I buy things for strange reasons. There isn't really a rhyme or reason. Is that wrong-headed? Time will tell. Today I'm listing a pair of cufflinks in the shape of wishbones. And here's why:
It’s Christmas vacation, and I’m fifteen years old, the self-conscious age when I cringe hourly at my family’s annoying behavior. On this evening, the phone rings and my Persian aunt beats me to it, answering with her signature singsong “khallooooo?”
I hear her ask the caller, “Say again please, your name?” and then “Please, again, what is it?” And finally, without even covering the receiver, she holds out the phone to me and says loudly, “It is a boy! His name is Evan, I think, and he speaks very badly!”
I grab the phone from my aunt because Evan is the hottest guy in school, and my aunt may have just ruined any chance I ever had with him. As I take the receiver and try to move away from my aunt, she proclaims loudly to the room, “You forgot! You lose! Everyone come! Mithra forgot!”
There is no Evan on the phone. The whole thing is a hoax. A set-up. A humiliating end to a Persian competition I entered into with my aunt an hour earlier. I am a casualty of the Wishbone game.
This weekend, my ten-year-old nephew, the most recent casualty of the Wishbone game, will be wearing a pink tutu on New Year’s Eve.
The game is a Persian spin on the classic American tradition of breaking the wishbone after Thanksgiving. Not surprisingly, the American game is straightforward and based on size. The person with the bigger half of the bone wins. The Persians break the wishbone too, but that’s only the commencement of the game. Like the pistol at the start of a foot race.
(At this point, we could diverge into an examination of the geo-political relations between Iran and the U.S. and how their cultural differences can be encapsulated in the context of a game but I’m just trying to sell some cufflinks.)
Once the wishbone is broken, a complex game of tag between the two competitors begins. The point of the game is to say “I remember” every time your opponent hands you something that you accept with your hands. If you do not remember to say, “I remember,” and your opponent announces that “You forgot!” then the game is over. In my rush to talk with Hot Evan and apologize for my Aunt’s embarrassing English, I completely forgot to tell her “I remember” when I grabbed the phone out of her hands.
I have seen my dad pretend to stumble with a full platter of food and his sister reflexively reach to take it from him without uttering the necessary “I remember.” “You forgot!” my dad hollered so triumphantly that my poor defeated aunt almost dropped the platter she just rescued. Fun, right?!
Clearly, the Wishbone game is one of strategy and cerebral discipline, of which most teenagers lack. (Although they do have the boldness to challenge their wise old aunts.) The game also has the possibility to go on forever if the players are adept enough. And the implications of losing can be supremely embarrassing… .
There was the time that my son lost to his aunt when he grabbed the video camera from her. It was another set-up. She deliberately fumbled with the camera controls because she knew he wouldn't and couldn't sit idly by. Her gamble payed off and he was obligated to wear a tiny speedo to the pool during a family vacation.
Last year, my niece lost and she was obligated to don a calico prairie girl dress and matching bonnet to the restaurant during a family vacation.
This year, like I mentioned, my nephew is obligated to wear a pretty pink tutu at the New Year's Day festivities during a family vacation.
It's all in the name of family traditions. And it's fodder for me, the shopkeeper.
Happy New Year, friends, and may you never forget to say "I remember!"
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