"I will make dinner," Timothy offered as he rummaged through the display, selecting a few boxes of whole grain pasta and some organic crushed tomatoes.
"That sounds great!" I replied. "It's been a while since I've had a chance to cook a nice meal, what with school and all. Anyone object if I take charge of Christmas dinner? I would love to roast a turkey in that stove!" I didn't know the first thing about roasting anything in a wood burning stove, but I was in the mood for an adventure.
"Sounds good to me!" Timothy said.
"Me too!" George chimed in, although in a slight "this I have got to see!" kind of way. I didn't yet understand the full array of George's cooking skills, which is a good thing because, if I had, I might not have been so eager with my offer.
Score three for Tom in the George Camp of Coolness: I had already grabbed a check in a restaurant AND introduced him to America's most hilarious author; and now I was offering to cook a major dinner. Nothing annoys George more than people who claim they are "afraid" to cook for him, so I'm glad I didn't yet know I had reason to be concerned.
Timothy prepared us a casual dinner of salad and pasta which we all enjoyed. After the dishes were done I said "would anyone like to play a game? I raided George's collection and brought a few things. How about Mille Bornes?"
"Mille Bornes? Why did you bring that? We really shouldn't be playing Mille Bornes. It's an awful, hateful game," Michael replied.
I was confused by Michael's characterization, as I had played Mille Bornes as a kid and had never thought anything of it. It's a Parker Brothers rummy-style card game which is set up as a road race. You play in teams, and the first team to finish the race by obtaining 700 km worth of cards wins. You also try to delay your opponents by giving them flat tires and making them run out of gas and that sort of thing.
"Puncturing people's tires and causing accidents is not my idea of a fun time. You can count me out," Michael declared.
"But we need four people or we can't play. Come on Michael, it will be fun!" George implored.
"Yeah, come on Michael. You can be my partner!" I added.
Reluctantly, Michael agreed. But little did I know what I had gotten us all into.
Almost as soon as I laid down my first card, Michael started objecting to whatever "strategy" he perceived me to have. "Oh look, he's throwing away mileage again. I have NO idea what he's doing - he is NOT playing well at all. Would one of you please trade partners?" Reminded me of Lucy and Ricky Ricardo playing bridge.
Things got worse as the game progressed and the accidents and flat tires started happening. George, in his increasingly impish manner, seemed to acquire every flat tire and accident card in the deck, and played them against us until I thought Michael would scream himself hoarse. "VERY FUNNY, George! Do you have to LAUGH at us every time you do that????" I was getting concerned about Michael's serious take on this "game."
Worse yet for Michael were the Coup Fourré cards, which you could play as a trump when someone tried to make you have an accident. As soon as they play the accident card, you yell "Coup Fourré!" while you lay down the card, countering the accident and causing your opponent to lose his turn.
As fate would have it, George got every Coup Fourré in the deck. And he didn't hesitate to throw them down with great aplomb, usually with an obnoxious fake stutter for added dramatic effect: "Oh, look, look what I have! C-C-C-C-C COUP-COUP-COUP-Fourré!" He nearly squealed with delight as the veins popped out of Michael's forehead.
By the third or fourth "C-C-C-Coup Fourré!" from George, Michael started shouting "KNOCK IF OFF, GEORGE! YOU ARE BEING COMPLETELY OBNOXIOUS! It's bad enough that I've got Lucy Ricardo for a partner; I don't need you rubbing my face in my own SHIT!!!"
"Calm down, Michael, it's only a game!" I said.
"Yes, it's a game! An evil, horrible, hateful game! I told you we shouldn't have played this!"
He was being so unreasonable and such a spoil sport that George and I couldn't help but giggle, although we both tried to stifle it. Later on in a calmer moment I approached Michael about his inappropriate competitive attitude with the card game, and in his defense he admitted it was an unreasonable trait he had picked up from his parents as a small child.
I suggested he refrain from engaging in any and all future recreational competitive activities, and he agreed it might be a good idea.
"But I don't need to remind you that you practically forced me into the game, do I?" Michael added.
"Well, I did encourage you to join us, but that was before I realized you weren't my cousin after all. You're like the secret love child of Joan Crawford and Attila the Hun."
"No, he's more like the little spear-guy from Trilogy of Terror!" George chimed in.
I nearly collapsed laughing at his mention of this 1975 Karen Black classic movie-of-the-week. For your enjoyment, here is a ten-second clip of the spear-guy:
Now it was my turn to be impressed. This George character was something else, I decided.