The All-In Game
by Charles C. Cole
Deck of a rental condo. GRIFF, IVAN , WADE, beers in hand, stand near a barbecue, waving politely at others unseen.
IVAN (Confidentially.): That girl needs sun block really badly. She’s so... exposed.
WADE: I know what she needs.
GRIFF: Not a blessed thing. Not from the likes of you two anyway.
IVAN: No offense, but what was Helen thinking by bringing your babysitter?
GRIFF: That she was in no real danger. Her exact words were: “Griff, this year, I’m going to relax, so we’re bringing the sitter. I don’t want to argue. You can look — I know you’ll look — but do not make an ass of yourself, not that she can’t handle you and your metrosexual fraternity brothers.”
IVAN: Metrosexual! I’m not metrosexual. Wait... Is that a good thing or a bad thing?
WADE: Did she say anything about going shopping? I overheard Darla and Missy talking about hitting the outlet stores this year.
IVAN: What about us? What do we get to do? And don’t say golf.
WADE: There’s always miniature golf.
IVAN: I suck at miniature golf.
WADE: We play it every year.
IVAN: I know. And I suck every year.
GRIFF: It’s a kid’s game; adults aren’t supposed to be good at it. That’s the point.
WADE: I know what you mean. It’s like foreplay. Foreplay is sex with training wheels. It’s for kids. I mean, who wants sex with training wheels?
GRIFF (Ignoring him.): As I said, it’s a kid’s world. Good for them, God love their ice cream-and-lemonade world. Leave them to their simple pleasures and let’s make up our own adult game, something with a clear winner, where winning feels like winning.
IVAN: I suck at games.
WADE: I’m in. Why not? I have a one-in-three chance of winning. That’s better odds than getting my coffee order right at the drive-through.
GRIFF: I’m just saying: Dude, you wanted the car, you daydreamed about it, you paid for the car. You own the car. Drive it. Rock the highway. It’s time to take it for a little joyride.
IVAN: Are we talking about Darla? Are you daring me to have time-share sex with my wife in somebody else’s bed, with you guys just down the hall?
GRIFF: Strive for the unattainable, my friend. Supersize your heart’s desire.
IVAN: What’s more unattainable than sex? I mean, my birthday’s still five months away. I don’t think it’s going to happen any time soon.
GRIFF: All I’m saying is: we’ve been coming here for years. All the families. A vacation for one generation and not so much for another generation and/or gender. So what about a contest, mix it up a little, a real win-win. The victor gets this place for a week next year, all to himself.
IVAN: Without the wife?
WADE: I think he means: only the wife, which could be a pretty good deal when you think about it. I can see the possibilities.
GRIFF: A romantic getaway. Fun in the sun, reservations-only skinnydipping, adults-only hot-tubbing, with a generous amount of time for discount shopping. Keep in mind: the losers have to arrange for back-home childcare for the winner.
IVAN: What’s the contest? I might be interested.
GRIFF: Simple: the first man to have sex with his wife wins. And you can’t — as in cannot — tell her why you want to have sex with her.
IVAN: Then why would she say yes?
GRIFF: Because you’ll earn it, dummy. Hold the door for her, brush her hand with yours when you inevitably collide in our cramped rent-a-kitchen, buy her flowers, compliment her on her recent weight loss.
(IVAN and Wade share a confused look.)
WADE: That’s it? That’s the whole deal? No catches? No gotchas?
GRIFF: One thing.
IVAN: I knew it.
GRIFF: I just want to compare situations first, to make sure we’re on an even playing field. (To WADE.) When’s the last time you “did it”?
IVAN: The day of the ice storm. She was cold and I was hot. The power was out and there was nothing else to do.
WADE: Six months ago, almost to the day.
IVAN: You remember? What was the occasion?
WADE: Mom died. I was in a bad way, okay. I was very close to my mom. Missy asked what she could do for me, to make me feel better. It was the first thing I could think of.
IVAN: Griff, what about you?
GRIFF: Three weeks ago.
IVAN: Three weeks?!
WADE: Either she was drunk off her butt or you got a promotion at work.
GRIFF: Neither. It just happened. Helen woke up from a very amorous dream about a young hunk of a movie star. She was still half-asleep, to be honest. So, three weeks. And the time before that was nine months. That’s about our cycle. Do the math. If the last time was three weeks ago, she’s going to think she can take the summer off, count on it. Believe me, this isn’t going to be any easier for me.
IVAN: So I have a shot?
GRIFF: Of course. We all have a shot.
WADE: And you’ll take care of our kids? Because there’s no way Missy’s going to trust them with just anyone, not with us out of state for a week.
GRIFF: Yes, of course. How hard can it be? And if I win, I expect the same.
IVAN: Why don’t we just rotate? You know, everyone gets a chance every three years.
GRIFF: You want to wait three years? No, I didn’t think so. That’s why. Besides, everyone wins even if they lose. Your wife gets flowers and you on your best behavior. You get sex with the only woman in Jupiter Bay who’ll have you, if you play your cards right. So you’re already a winner. I’m just raising the ante, upping the stakes, motivating you to take matters into your own sweaty hands. Is that such a bad thing? I ask you.
WADE: So we’re really doing this?
GRIFF: That’s up to your wife. Boys, it’s a reason to look forward to tomorrow. It’s a reason to dig down and be nice to the little lady when you’re hot and tired from an overdose of the vacation blues. From here on out, we’re gentlemen... with an agenda. Who doesn’t benefit from that? It’s “Mrs. Impossible” or mini-golf, and we know Ivan sucks at mini-golf.
WADE: I’m in.
IVAN: No dice.
WADE: Ivan, this is a golden opportunity. Embrace it.
IVAN: No, I mean: no dice, no cards, no counting, no tiny-assed pencils, no screaming humiliations around the dining room table. This could work. This could really work. You’re onto something here. It’s like paying it forward, only paying it back. If I’m nice to her, then she might be really nice to me. What a concept! Dude, we could change the world!
GRIFF: One step at a time, my friend. One step at a time.
IVAN: Anything’s better than mini-golf.
GRIFF: Go. Scheme. We’ll talk about “proof” later. I’m thinking a little bodacious PDA around the breakfast table.
GRIFF: Obviously, you were never in the military. Public Display of Affection: grab-ass. Ambush her from behind with a sudden, unexpected big wet kiss and an affectionate pat on the behind. If she doesn’t brush you off faster than a bee in her bonnet, we’ll know. And no full-on attempts until the day after tomorrow; we don’t want to come on too strong too soon and freak them out. For now, start laying the foundation to your night of passion. Here comes Helen. Go get some more beers, will you, fellas?
(IVAN and WADE exit. HELEN enters.)
HELEN: Was it something I said?
GRIFF: Actually, yes.
HELEN: So, did it work?
GRIFF: I think your friends are in for an obscenely romantic family vacation, details to be worked out later.
HELEN: That’s my man. (They kiss.)
Copyright © 2015 by Charles C. Cole