All I Got Was This Snake

All I Got Was This Snake:
Originally published on July 18, 2006

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As I write this I have a little snake on my shoulder.  It is kind of like a chip, but it is stuffed with cotton and would not taste good when placed in dip.  The snake is worth about a dollar, but I was lucky enough to only pay about twenty for it...

While at the boardwalk at Wildwood, NJ, this past weekend, I was labeled with my usual title as a sucker.  I am pretty sure that every boardwalk game has a picture of me on the wall that reads, "This guy will play your game, just acknowledge him."  On this particular evening, I was summoned from about 40 feet away...

"Hey you," someone yelled.  And of course I started to walk over.  After all, it was evident he knew me -- he even called me over by name...

But I didn't want to seem too eager to play his game, which consisted of throwing a softball into an angled plastic bucket, so I paused on my way over...

"You in the hat," he said. "I have an easy game for you."

And this was the clincher.  Not only did he know my name, but he somehow knew that I was wearing a hat.  It would not be right for me to ignore him -- I just had to play this game.  But only once...

He first began with the demonstration of how easy this game was: jumping over the ledge, grabbing a ball and throwing it lightly into the bucket.  "Now just do that two times in a row and you get an iPod," he said.

Granted, I already have an iPod.  But I did not win that iPod.  A won iPod would provide a ton of stories when people ask, "Hey, is that an iPod?" and I reply with "Yes, I won it in a game."  Perhaps this would grow into a tall tale so that three years from now, people would be asking me how I took over the world by throwing a softball into a bucket.  Or, better yet, how I took over a bucket by throwing a softball into the world.  Whatever the situation, I was ready for this game...

I missed my first shot but made the second, giving me hope that this was indeed possible.  Like any sucker, I gave him two more dollars, and then two more, until finally he began to negotiate:  "If you make one and your friend makes one, I'll give you both a prize," he said to me and my friend.  This, of course, entailed both of us giving two more dollars.  And to make a long story much shorter -- and to save myself from future embarrassment -- we were unsuccessful.  As I began to walk away, he handed me the stuffed snake that is currently on my shoulder.  He called it a consolation prize, perhaps because it is supposed to console me about why I lost twenty dollars to win something I already had.  But let's make it known right now that I won't fall for these scams anymore.  The next time I go to a boardwalk, I am not going to wear a hat.  That way, when someone refers to me as the guy in the hat, I can walk right by and say, "Hey, it's like you don't even know me," and I can proceed to spend twenty dollars on a boardwalk ice cream cone instead...

But I digress.

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