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Remember that game Master Mind? It was big in the 80’s and absolutely huge in the kitchen of the home I grew up in. My mom and I rocked Master Mind. In fact, my mom was the only person I was ever competitive with and not in a “big cougar, little cougar” sort of way. We didn’t try to out-cleavage each other when we went to lunch at Ruby Tuesday’s, nor did she try to flirt my teenage boyfriends away by answering the door with a dirty martini in one hand and her kitten heels in the other. I guess she didn’t really have a chance as I didn’t have teenage boyfriends. Mine were all well into their 30’s and 40’s. Oh stop it! I’m kidding of course! About the age thing—not the “no boyfriend thing.” Sadly.

But I did have a lot of boy friends and yes, they all adored my mom. She was always the “cool mom” and I’m proud to say she accomplished that the old-fashioned way. Every day after school Dan, Rudy, and Skippy (an unfortunate nickname I’m ashamed to take responsibility for) came over after school to play basketball and eat Thomas’ English Muffins and a delicious assortment of Tastykake treats. Years later mom told me she was a MILF before there was such a thing.

“Ew, Mom, do you even know what that means?”

“Hot mom.”

“Close enough.”

Ugh. I digress. (And probably need therapy.) This has nothing to do with my mom’s hotness or her willingness to admit it. It’s got nothing to do with the game Master Mind either or how much fun we had playing it. Wait a minute—I didn’t even finish that tangent! What I meant to say was competing with my mom was fun and we did it every chance we got. We had a pool table in the basement (and it’s a small wonder I never got very good at it) and every day after the boys left, she would look at me across the Tastykake-wrapper strewn kitchen table and say, “Rack ’em.”

We played best out of three and even went so far as to have our own championship, complete with a marked up poster board tracking our brackets. The championship went on for months until eventually we declared it was the final, final, for real championship best out of three. It was a very big deal. I thought about it all day at school. Rudy, Dan, and Skippy could not come over that day.

I won the first game. She won the second. And…wait for it…


It’s killing you, right?


Mom won the third game. She did her victory march around the table, brandishing her pool stick and fake-waved and blew kisses to her fans. Then, as she did and still does anytime she beats me, she burst into Mommie Dearest dialogue and proclaimed:

“I’m bigger and I’m faster. I will always beat you!”

And I would act out Christina’s part:

“Then I’m not going to play with you anymore! Ever!”

And then we’d both burst out laughing. This went on until she noticed the time and sent me upstairs to set the table for dinner. Winning was fun because you got bragging rights for the next 15 minutes but losing just meant pretending to be really offended by the winner’s blustering. After that we either got bored of trash talking or completely forget we played a game. One of the many benefits of not having a short-term memory. Maybe the old “it’s not whether you win or lose” adage is true. It’s more fun to just play the game and not worry about the outcome.

Now that I’m very far off topic, maybe it’s time to get to the point. My new Dragon column is up and just begging for you to read it. It’s called, Master Mind (now you see why I got on this tangent?) and it is about playing a game. Hmm…maybe not such a digression after all. Feel free to read it here.

I need to go call my mom. I miss her terribly for some reason.

Shelly Mazzanoble

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