Rock, Paper, Scissor

By Randy Lubin

This story was written in 2008 for a creative writing class at Washington University in St. Louis.

My father and I walked over to the crowd and asked a guy in referee stripes what was going on. He enlightened us: it was the national rock-paper-scissor competition, best of three, single-elimination, with the winner advancing to the international competition in Montreal for a shot at $10,000... and there was still time to register.

We had fond memories of playing RPS together when I was little. With hours to kill until AAA arrived, we decided to sign-up. The woman at the registration table raised an eyebrow when she saw my father’s prosthetic hand but before she could comment he wiggled the fingers and flashed the Vulcan Salute. Recent breakthroughs in biomechatronics allowed him individual control over each digit. He had been depressed about losing his hands and it was nice to see him showing a sense of humor.

I hadn't viewed RPS as anything more than a kids' game but some of the people here were very serious about the "sport" and fiercely competitive. As we waited for the competition to start I flipped through a pamphlet we had received at the registration table. The top RPS experts, it explained, had developed terms for each combination of three throws, called gambits. "The Crescendo," for example, is paper, scissors, and then rock.

Soon enough it was time for the first match- I was pitted against a little girl. I decided beforehand to play the "Fist Full of Dollars" gambit (Rock, Paper, Paper) as I had loved the movie. Clint Eastwood's luck was not on my side, though, and she beat me in two with paper and then scissors (I think she was using the "Paper Dolls" gambit). I shook her hand and went off to find my dad.

He had won and was seeking out his next opponent. I stayed with him through the next few rounds, and when the tow-truck driver called (sooner than expected) I ran back to the car. After he fixed the tire, I ran back to check on my dad.

Over the next hour he worked his way through several more rounds, each victory boosting his spirits. He eventually made it to the finals and in a match that made it to the third throw, his "Toolbox" beat an audacious "Scissor Sandwich."

My dad grinned as he stepped up to the stage to accept his trophy, a crown actually; the crowd began chanting "Speech! Speech! Speech!" Amused, he acquiesced; keeping his remarks brief, he thanked the World Rock-Paper-Scissor Society, his family, and his lucky prosthetic hand. He wore the crown for the rest of ride to Colorado, taking it off only for showers and sleep.