I Won $10 in a Beauty Contest! Go me!

A funny thing happened to me the other night…

You know how you sometimes wake up in the middle of the night disoriented? I guess my brain was still fuzzy because I got out of bed for a drink of water and my foot brushed against something soft and furry. “Oh, that must be Sydney,” I thought, half-asleep. So I bent down and started petting what I thought was my cat and scratching behind her ears. After several seconds of this, my eyes adjusted to the dim light and I found that I was, in fact, petting a stuffed animal that Tara had brought from Ely.

NOT my cat (but still plenty soft and furry).

Talk about a case of mistaken identity. In retrospect, I should have realized my error immediately, as we keep the bedroom door closed at all times and rarely allow Sydney inside. Upon realizing my error, I burst into a fit of maniacal laughter, rousing Tara from sleep.

“What’s going on?” she asked groggily.

“Err…nothing, honey. Go back to sleep.”

I confessed my mistake to her the next morning, and she got a good laugh out of that. A lot of people have told me recently, though the blog and Facebook, that I lead an odd life and have the weirdest stories. I’ll be the first to admit that between going on a paranormal investigation where a person’s body was possessed, visiting the Spam Museum in Minnesota, dealing with bugs in my food and rescuing people from the snow that I do tend to end up in situations that are, shall we say, atypical. One friend commented that “now you’re dragging lil’ ole Tara into it.” True dat, as my homies say. Like it or not, she’s along for the ride now.

But rest assured, every day does not involve hamsters eating through Billy Joel records or accidentally flirting with waitresses in 50s-themed hamburger joints. It’s true that I have a lot of adventures, but there are also plenty of quiet, relaxing times at home. One of my favorite pursuits is sitting on the covered patio out back listening to music while enjoying a beverage. Now that the weather has warmed up (well, kind of; is mid-60s “warming up”?), we’ve been spending lots of time out there. Tara is a big Cribbage fan and I’m always willing to learn new things, so she brought out her wooden board last weekend and taught me how to play.

Can I just say, whoever makes up the rules to card and board games must be either drunk or high at the time. Maybe both. It’s so outlandish, the things they come up with! Like the aforementioned Cribbage. Sets, runs, flushes, score 15 or 31, move your peg around an oval track. Nibs and Nobs. Muggins. WTF? Is this a card game or Harry Potter?! It’s all so random and obscure.

Cribbage: weird rules, but my latest addiction.

And yet, addictive as hell. We’ve played a bunch of games this past week. I’m happy to say that I even managed to win once (and keep the others close, or at least prevent my inevitable eventual loss from being a foregone conclusion). I’m enjoying playing Cribbage very much, and have to admit that it’s nice to play a real game, i.e. one that doesn’t require a downloaded app and a miniature phone screen.

Really, as odd as the rules seem, they’re no stranger than Gin Rummy or Dominoes or Yahtzee. Even Monopoly is a head scratcher. Why is Pennsylvania Avenue worth $450 with two houses while Baltic Avenue only nets you a measly $320 with four houses?! That’s twice the property on what is likely a similar sized street. Does Pennsylvania have a stricter HOA? Is there more crime and blight on Baltic? Who determined the relative property values of a bunch of streets in Atlantic City, anyway?! And seriously, a Get Out Of Jail Free card? You’d need one hell of an attorney (or a crooked judge) to pull off that stunt, not just a lucky roll of the dice.

Don’t even get me started on the $10 prize for winning second place in the Beauty Contest.

So yeah, games are weird. You know what else is weird? Fishing! Which is something else Tara and I have been doing recently. You can read all about our adventure on her newest blog post right here. What’s so weird about fishing, you may ask?


Willingly baiting a hook with a live worm, for instance. Or – odder still – a fake rubber worm that smells like yesterday’s lunch. Staring at a bobber for hours on end. And should you happen to catch a fish, then what? Don’t tell me you throw it back. Oh, please, no. Should we ever actually end up catching one, we are going to eat that sucker, yessir. Even if that involves gutting or scaling and filleting.

God, I hope we never catch one.

Plus, around here at least, they actually stock the lakes with fish. We caught them in the act yesterday. A big tanker truck backs up to the water, some guy unscrews a nozzle, and suddenly hundreds of fish are being dumped into the water. Screw natural selection, I suppose. I posted the below pic on my Facebook wall and got all kinds of comments ranging from “fake lake” to “that’s cheating.” Whatever. I was just ticked off that the truck came to stock the lake full of trout just as we were leaving. No wonder we didn’t catch a damn thing!

Be free, trout! Until somebody snags you with a hook, that is…

But like Cribbage, fishing – weird as it is, and even when you don’t catch a damn thing – turns out to be fun. 

Go figure.


Published by Mark Petruska

I'm a professional writer and editor living my best life in south central Wisconsin.

19 thoughts on “I Won $10 in a Beauty Contest! Go me!

    1. Thanks, Kathy! My Father’s Day has included a relaxing morning on the patio with a Voodoo Doughnut, and the promise of Bloody Marys later. Can’t get much better than that!


  1. “I bent down and started petting what I thought was my cat and scratching behind her ears. After several seconds of this, my eyes adjusted to the dim light and I found that I was, in fact, petting a stuffed animal that Tara had brought from Ely.”

    Bwhahahahahahahhahaha! OMG…that made me HOWL! HILARIOUS, Mark!

    I’ve never played Cribbage, but I have played Monopoly. The thing about Monopoly is that it takes FOREVER to complete a game. I know you’re going to think I’m insane, but my favorite game is CLUE – Professor Plum, in the library, with a candlestick!

    Happy Father’s Day, buddy!


    1. Thanks, Ron!

      I agree: Monopoly is a loooong game. Get Out Of Jail Free? I say if a player lands there then it’s game over for them! Unless they can fashion a shank out of toothpicks and stage an escape. Hmm…are you thinking Monopoly: Prison Edition like I am?!


  2. Joe and I like playing mancala, except he’s really strategic about it and I just play for fun, which means I usually lose. Looking forward to more weird stories, Mark and Tara!


  3. I hate fishing, but I love the gazing at the water part & can do that for hours!! The only card game my husband can ever remember is “Oh Shit” & you need at least 4 people to play it, so I’m stuck playing these games on FB!


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