It is said that September is the best kept secret in Oregon. Summer begins to shake off its intensity and mellow into warm sunny days. The sun sets before 8:00 PM as if to remind children that tomorrow is a school day. Like a squirrel preparing for the winter Oregonians take advantage of these sunny days and store them up for the long 5 month day of rain ahead. The Williams , Condellos and Unwins planned an impromptu picnic at Keizer’s secret park. We enjoyed each other company and rejoiced in the news that Erik’s sister from Kentucky just received word of their referral to adopt twins, a brother and sister who are 2 and a half months old, from Ethiopia. These babes cannot be in the arms of their parents fast enough (nor can the calls for other expectant parents come fast enough either).
After our picnic was finished Brian, Erik and I had some business to settle. The Secret Park is the home court of our epic Horseshoe Wars. It had been a very busy summer and unfortunately our weekly horseshoe game had been the casualty. Our arena was dry, hard, and grown over. We made a feeble attempt to work the ground before the ensuing battle. Just like Erik’s taste in footwear this game was going to be ugly. Our practice throws bounced off the hard surface like a super ball in a racquetball court. Erik gave me a new set of horseshoes for my retirement with a touching note declaring his horseshoe superiority. Erik proved true to his word as he put a steady shellacking on Brian and I. The ground was so hard that even the shoes that hit the post would fly several inches away from being point worthy. Erik was within 5 points of victory. Brian and I were 10 points behind. Erik was once again getting up on his familiar high horse. He smelled the taste of victory. Humility and grace sat beside me because Erik didn’t want them on his team. “I will win the game on the next turn.” Erik declared. Brian and I had all but conceded to his shoe throwing prowess when the memory of last years humiliating defeat was alluded to by his enormous ego. The competitive fires burned with in me. I thought to myself “I may not win but I’m going to go down with a fight.”
One thing that you must understand about our Horseshoe Wars is that horseshoes is just one of the games that is actually played. There is also a mental and trash talking game that goes on as well. Brian and Erik are Youth Pastors. Youth Pastors are the most pathetically low dirty rotten trash talkers on the face of the planet. They are so desperate for victory that all morale character and judgment are easily disposed of in lieu of victory. Knowing this I knew that I had to beat Erik in his own evil vices. My strategy was simple. Get in Erik’s head and make camp there until Brian or I won. This is Erik’s game. He is amazing at it, now I had to make it my own. On my next turn I employed my strategy. I started throwing rocks on the ground next to his feet as he threw, I would make strange noises or tell jokes. It was working - I was in Erik’s head. Brian for 15 minutes slowly and methodically was catching up. Erik had only scored 2 points in the last several turns. He was completely off his game. He was throwing rocks at me and doing everything he could to make me lose concentration. His game became all about distracting me. Several turns later Brian took the lead. Erik had not scored a point in ten minutes. Slowly and methodically I fought my way back into the game. I scored a ringer and low and behold I was tied with Erik. The score was Erik 18, Steve 18, and Brian 20. Our next turns were filled with tense anticipation. One horseshoe could win the game for any one of us. Brian and Erik faced off and Erik’s shoe hit the top of the stake and bounced off. Brian threw an ugly shoe and fate rolled it in for a point. Erik was still full of confidence as felt he could drop one closer and spoil Brian’s victory. Brian stood as close as he could to Erik in hopes of getting in his head. Erik was determined to keep him out and he took an eternity to make his last throw. Finally the moment came and the shoe was released from his hand. Hope feels Erik’s eyes as the shoe is judged to be on target. "POP" is the sound of Erik’s ego deflating into defeat. The shoe misses right and bounces into Horseshoe War legend. I’m happy to say that wasn’t the end of the story. When someone falls down the best thing for them to do is get back up. It didn’t take Erik long to get back on that high horse. “Brian is always on my team so I still beat you” He gloated. But even that wasn’t good enough for him. “We can play for second place.” The sun was setting as we squared off. It was an 18 all tie. The next throws would define our moods for the next couple of days. Perhaps it was just a match to determine second place but Erik and I knew that it was oh so much more. As the shoe left my hand I thought September is the best kept secret in Oregon. Well maybe, that is until today!
P.S. If you want to read more about Nina & Wes' adoption, and have a good cry, take a peek at their story here... http://bit.ly/cFanMx.