When we lived together in during the super early stages of our relationship, Jericho received a chess set as a gift. It sat on the coffee table unopened pretty much from the day he brought it home, until several weeks later when we found ourselves without power at the apartment. Jericho had forgotten to pay the electric bill, and they shut it off at the end of the day. Without TV and before smart phones were a thing, we sat on the couch bored with our usual conversations until I motioned to the chess set.
“Where did you get that?” I asked, pointing to the box.
“Stan got it from Betty and gave it to me. Why? Do you play?” Jericho answered.
“Yeah, I love Chess, but I haven’t played in years.” I answered. “We should play.”
“Right now?” Jericho asked, not exactly thrilled with the idea.
“Well… we can do that, or we can sit here and stare at each other some more. It’s not like we have a lot of options in the dark.” I laughed.
“Sure. Get it out and set up. I need to take the dog out, I’ll be right back.” Jericho consented still not really excited about it, but glad to have something to occupy the time as he hopped up and headed through the kitchen to the back door with the dog following happily behind.
I pulled the board out and set up the pieces waiting patiently for Jericho to return.
He did soon, sitting down on the edge of the couch not exactly close to me, but not exactly far away either. We hadn’t started dating yet, and were quite honestly still trying to figure each other out. Each interested in the other, but consumed in the other turmoil in our lives neither one ready or willing to make the first move.
“Are you ready? You go first.” Jericho said nodding toward the board, a look of intense study across his face as he watched me looking for some clue or tell to see if he could anticipate the first move before I made it.
I hesitated momentarily, but conceded to the first move. The game didn’t last very long as I quickly took command and pulled out an easy win.
“Ha! Check mate!” I called gleefully, quite pleased that I had been able to win the first time picking up a game in several years.
“Alright, but I totally let you win.” Jericho said with a smug tone. “Let’s play again. I won’t go so easy on you this time.”
“What’s the point of playing if you’re just going to let me win? It’s no fun if you’re not actually trying.” I huffed, the wind immediately removed from my sails.
“I know. I won’t let you win again. I don’t need to. I just wanted to see how you play, now that I know that you won’t be able to win.” Jericho replied with a deadly serious tone.
“You won’t LET me win? Really?” I said somewhere between offended and insulted.
“Come on. You wanted to play, so let’s play.” Jericho insisted, an obnoxious smile starting to spread across his face.
I huffed, and complied ready to step up to the challenge and show my skills. Our second game went quickly as well, this time Jericho taking the lead and eventually wiping me out in less than five moves. I was both irritated that he had won so arrogantly, and that he had tricked me into letting my guard down.
“See? I LET you win the first game. It’s the easiest way to get to know your opponent.” Jericho said, puffing up with pride.
“Whatever.” I said rolling my eyes. “One more game? Best two out of three.”
“Sure. If you want to LOSE again.” Jericho teased.
“Well, maybe I was just letting YOU win this round. Getting to know my opponent.” I teased back.
With that, Jericho genuinely laughed as he set up the board once again, and we started into our first game where each of us was actually paying attention and playing to win. This game took a bit more time, but much to our chagrin ended in a draw. Neither of us willing to accept a draw as an acceptable result we set up the board once again. Two more games, and two more draws later Jericho became visibly frustrated.
“What the fuck is this? You’re doing this on purpose aren’t you? Just to piss me off.” Jericho snapped as he swiped his pieces off of the board. “I’m going upstairs.” He huffed sulking off to his room.
“Okaaaaaaaaaaaaaay.” I said, confused but truly amused more than anything. I was just happy to have something to do aside from stare at the wall until it was time to go to sleep, it wasn’t like the game was life and death or anything.
I picked up the game and put it back into the box before rounding up a few scattered candles and finding the book I had been reading. It was a little difficult to see being so dark, but I would just have to make do.
Anyway… I wanted to share this as a metaphor for the current shenanigans. Specifically the fact that once we got up to speed with the other’s tactics and intentions neither of us could win, each perfectly matched in both intelligence and the ability to anticipate each other’s next move. I think our ability to anticipate each other has gone haywire over the years. We both got caught off guard during the break up, neither one of us really expecting the emotional fall out nor many of the out of character actions we took because of it. We were no longer able to anticipate the next move both being so extremely out of character. That lead to doubt about everything, and a little bit of doubt grows into a big lot of anticipation. Maybe it really is all just pure coincidence? Think about it…