General Poetry posted December 11, 2020


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Competitor, Thy Name Is Woman

by Cynthia Adams1

Competition Contest Winner 


In 1971, my high school boyfriend, let’s call him Ron
(because that’s his name) was a piano prodigy and good looking.
I Sat front row at concerts and rolled my eyes at swooning girls.
I was way too proud to swoon back then (still am.)
But to his credit, Ron only had eyes (covered by thick glasses)
for me. I rather liked that … if this was a game, I was winning.

I was one of the best jocks but they didn’t call girls jocks then.
Not many boys went to girls’ varsity games but Ron did.
He clapped enthusiastically though I doubt he knew the rules.
When we lost the volleyball championship, we were plenty pissed.
Ron didn’t get that it was our broken hearts weeping off-key.
“It’s only a game,” he said … if this was a game, he was losing.

I left Ron senior year by gradually disappearing. I was afraid.
As his popularity grew, the girls got prettier, bolder.
Thought I’d let myself down easily so it wouldn’t hurt so much.
Ron’s sister later told me that he never would have left me
Though his parents wanted a “nice, Jewish girl.” (I wasn’t either.)
“He still chose you,” she said … if this was a game, I threw it.

At graduation, I won for “ Best Sportsmanship” and was bummed.
I wanted “Best Athlete” until Dad said Sportsmanship was better.
I sound petty and insecure in this story because I was (still am.)
But my petty, insecure old-woman-self understands competition:

We all compete against ourselves no matter who’s in the room.
It’s brave to strive for better … if this is a game, we can all win.


 


Writing Prompt
Write a free verse poem on competition. Tell what it means to be competitive and why you love competition or not. Free verse is a form of poetry that does not necessarily follow to any specific meter patterns, rhyme, or any other pattern. Free verse, despite its freedom, often still has some elements of form. Most free verse does observe a convention of lines and structure. No rhyming patterns.

Competition
Contest Winner


There is a line in Shakespeare's Hamlet: "Frailty, thy name is woman."
I like "Competitor, thy name is woman," better.

For better or worse, this is a true story.
Ron went on to win some of the most coveted awards in the music business. I suspect though, that he was never in it for the glory.
Though we've never run into each other (as we move in different worlds), I dream about him once a year or so. It is as if we are dropped into a conversation mid-sentence.
Perhaps it is a parallel universe.
Or maybe it's because we were born only hours apart and are somehow lightly tethered.
I don't know if he dreams about me.
Ron has been married three times.
The girls may all be nice but I don't think any of them are Jewish.

I was never an elite athlete but I was coveted by team managers into my mid-40's.
I was a pretty good therapist for thirty years and now I'm a writer. I married a writer who is better at it than me. He says I'm better. (Do you see why I married him?)



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