Thursday, August 4, 2011

The One-Up and the P Word

So I'll admit it...I've been known to eavesdrop. But it's okay--I'm a professional. It's part of the job description. Writers have to write authentic, believable dialogue, right? Yesterday, at the soccer field, was a perfect opportunity. At first I thought there was a fight breaking out. But I soon realized it was merely a "one-up". Here is how it went:

Five-year-old #1: "He's Mr. Big Ears!"

Five-year-old #2: "He's Mr. Big Ears Poopy!"

Five-year-old #1 (Determined not to lose): "He's Mr. Big Ears Poopy Head!"

Five-year-old #2 was unable to respond, because he was laughing uncontrollably when the P word came out. He was also looking nervously, and a little frantically over his shoulder for his mom.

There are definite rules and specific game strategies for the one-up. You have less than a second to respond--any delay in action and you forfeit to the other player(s).

If the one-up is of the insult variety, the player has to make sure they drum up the worst word possible, while staying in the safe realm of the Webster's dictionary (the one that sits on the big podium in the library--no online pseduo-dictionary words allowed.) Also, if a parent is within earshot, said word must be strong enough to only get you in the minimum amount of trouble--say, a knock-it-off look from yours, or someone else's parent. (The five-year-olds at the soccer field were definitely riding the line on that one. The P word is not one to be used lightly.)

If the one-up is of the I'm-cooler-than-you variety, player has to make sure they toss out something sort of believable, but not too over the top. If you're not sure what I'm talking about here, just listen in on a conversation between a few of the dads at the soccer field. I'm not talking about the nice, mild-mannered Dads shouting out, "Good job!" from the sidelines. The ones I'm referring to are easy to find. They're standing so close to the sidelines, no one can see past them. They are multi-tasking--carrying on their one-up while barking out "coaching" tips from the sidelines, and offering up friendly advice to the refs. You'll also be able to spot them by clothing. They may have come to the field right from work, but they managed to do a quick change into their soccer shorts from high school, so as to appear more professional in their one-upping and sideline coaching. Unfortunately, they are sometimes still wearing their work socks and shoes.

In case you are still foggy about this kind of one-up, I'll provide an example. We'll use a high school aged girls' soccer game as the setting:
Dad #1 (He toes the sideline and pushes his shorts down a little, because his post-post high school waistline is pressing at the waning elastic. ): "My daughter's looking pretty good out there. She's only a freshman, but as soon as the coach
learns her last name, she'll be off the end of that bench and starting."

Dad #2 (Quick nod, which is the equivalent of the oh, yeah?): I don't think you were here yet, but did you see my daughter at the warm-up? She was really moving that ball. I saw the coach looking at me when she was sprinting up the field. He probably heard about my game back in '87.

Unfortunately, Dad #1 lost by forfeit. He was unable to go on, because Five-year-old #1 chucked a Nerf ball from behind and he was doubled over with a hamstring injury.

Five-year-old #2 clinched the competition when he pointed at Dad #1 saying, "He's Mr. Big Mouth Poopy."

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