Pitching a fit was one of my earliest talents. I had lots of reasons to pitch them. I was number two in line behind my sister, “Miss Perfect,” about whom I have previously written. I was number two in line ahead of four brothers. Each and every day posed a new opportunity for me to pitch a fit. If it wasn’t my sister's picking on me, it was my brothers not doing what I told them to do (basically, not responding to my picking on them.)
I never shied away from an opportunity. One particular day I was playing chess with my brother Timmy (yes, he endured that name until Jr. High, when he started the 3-Letter name trend followed by my other brothers.) Timmy was a year my junior and the biggest source of my frequent dissatisfaction. It mattered not the game, Timmy ALWAYS won!
So it was that we were sitting in the living room, engrossed in our latest battle of black vs. white, when my sister breezed through the room. With a quick glance at the board, this sister of mine, who would NEVER play such a game, broadcast to the world,
“Timmy’s Winning!!! Timmy’s Beating Judy!!!!”
Well, there you have it. I was already ticked that I was losing (again) and my two biggest irritants were focusing their attention on my failure. With barely a moment’s hesitation, the “white” bishop was in my hand and hurled through the air, directly at my sister!
Well, OK, I was a lousy shot, I have no depth perception and bad eyesight…but my intent was to hurl the bishop right at her head!
The bishop’s trajectory and velocity brought it to a direct and fatal impact with the wall. Now, we lived in England in those days and the walls were not the soft stuff of which our modern-day U.S. houses are constructed. No, these were plaster walls. The white wooden bishop, one of only two in my father’s prized chess set, broke in half!
OMG!!! I was going to be KILLED….
My dad used the belt for the least offense and THIS ONE WAS BIG!!!!
And so it was that I learned the true humiliation that accompanies admitting I have thrown a fit and lost control. My father did not use the belt. Nor did he scold me. He very carefully took the poor white bishop and painstakingly carved a new one. The burled maple of the new white bishop reminds me to this day that he is a “step bishop,” and his slightly different colored green felt slides just a little less easily across the board than does his “twin’s.”
But I learned a great lesson that day. While I might feel justified in throwing my fit, I must understand its lasting effect. I grew up a little that day. I was eleven years old, and it was about time!