Bowling with Andy was the worst. He always lost. Normally this would make Tia quite happy, as she adored winning. Instead, it grated on her. Because every time…every blasted time Andy lost, he’d complain about it. Oh, how he wished he had more time to practice. Oh, to only be as good as Tia. Whine, whine, whine. What was she? His therapist?
Thankfully, this time, she had a plan. Andy stepped into the bowling alley from the blustering snow looking in a particularly whiney mood.
“Hey, Tia,” he said. “Ready to kick my butt again?”
“Not so fast,” Tia replied. “I brought you something.” From her bag, she pulled a small wooden horse carving. It had terrible craftsmanship, but Andy stared wide-eyed at it all the same.
“I got it on vacation in Selvadorada,” she lied. “When you pat its head, it unlocks all your hidden bowling potential.”
“Wow, really?” Andy asked, lapping the story up. “That’s amazing! What’s it called?”
“Um…” Plum. Tia hadn’t thought this far. “It’s…a…it’s a whinge.”
Instead of raising his eyebrows like any sensible person, Andy’s baby-face cheeks glowed with excitement. “Sounds cool. Unlocks my full potential, huh?”
“Exactly,” she promised, setting it on the table. She wanted to slam it down, but that probably wouldn’t go over well with the owner.
Andy leaned forward. “How does it work, though? I mean, is it cheating?”
“Of course not. It’s just a whinge. Sounds like a fancy word for ‘win’, doesn’t it? You will whinge so well with this whinge. You’ll be a real whinger.”
That was good enough for Andy, apparently. Full of unearned confidence, he patted the whinge as instructed and picked up a ball. His thick arm swung back and forth with all the grace of a wrecking crane in a wind storm as he let the ball fly.
It landed behind him.
“Aw, man,” he said, rubbing his hand. “Guess even a whinge can’t help me, huh?”
Tia gritted her teeth and seized the ball for her turn, before he had a chance to complain. She arced her arm backwards, acing a graceful, yet powerful throw. The ball went straight up the lane, looking ready to slam into the center pin and ensure a strike. Then at the last moment, it curved ever-so-slightly, knocking down all of the pins except one.
Tia’s jaw slackened. She stared in dismay. Then she turned to Andy. “Did you see? How unfair can you get? I can’t believe how close I was! Why would it even–” She paused mid-sentence, looked at Andy’s confused face, then back at the little wooden horse on the table.
“Maybe…you need to pat the whinge, too?” he suggested.
Tia winced. Along with losing, she hated admitting when she’d been a hypocrite. But just like losing, if you never did it, you never improved yourself.
“No thanks,” she said, waving the sculpture away. “I whinge enough already. Let’s break for a soda.”
And that is exactly what they did.