Playing a game with competitive people doesn't have to be exasperating and frustrating; it can actually be pretty fun. Proof of that was seen when 55 members of Julie and Welby Rushton's family decided to play a little game—the Amazing Race.
We were split into 10–15 teams—Gary and Bob tried their hardest to keep families split up, and they did a pretty good job. I have never been particularly close to my Carter/Rushton cousins or aunts and uncles, but I have always loved spending time with my dad's family. For that reason I was glad that the teams were divided the way they were. It not only forced family bonding, but it also added a new level of competition to the race. Everyone wanted to beat the members of their own family more than anything else.
After Bob, Gayla, Gary, and Paula were to their respective stations, Dad set us loose. He was bombarded by team leaders—the brothers, the sister, and their spouses—all of whom were pushing and shoving to be the first to get their clue. Then a long line of cars shot down the street and began making its way through the suddenly dangerous town of Payson, Utah.
Everyone was in on the game. Even the small children who didn't really know what was going on were excited. Brooke—at least I think it was Brooke—kept calling everyone losers and then giggling away. Brad was convinced that we won the game every time we ran back to the car after doing some ridiculous stunt like mummifying ourselves in toilet paper. That stunt greatly contributed to the "not breaking any traffic laws" because most of the drivers hadn't recovered from their dizziness when they hurtled back onto the road. Too bad Gary didn't get to see his brilliant plan in motion.
We spent the next hour or so zooming past each other on the road and doing whatever we could to slow other groups down when their stations overlapped with ours. No one questioned putting pantyhose on their head if it meant beating their spouses or siblings back to Bob's house. No one had a problem with fishing for a lamp shade and then putting it on their head if it meant having bragging rights for the rest of eternity. These were sacrifices we were all willing to make.
In the end, it was Rod's group that won. (And Kenny's group—even though he wasn't driving he had to make sure everyone knew that he played a part in winning.) The cars trailed back over the next half hour, along with the complaints and excuses for not winning the race: the roads were different than they were 20 years ago, the old man in front of us was going 20 MPH the entire time, our route was strategically inconvenient, the clues were confusing (about half of the groups ended up going to the wrong ballpark), I got stuck with all of the little kids, or—this was probably the most popular excuse—I was actually following traffic laws the entire time. But we all know that no one really did follow the traffic rules the entire time. Rod summed it up pretty well when he said, "When I went to Payson High School, the speed limit was 55." That's probably why he won.
Amidst all of the playful banter, I think I detected a strong desire for a rematch. And I am sure that will lead to another rematch because none of us will want to stop until we have our fair share of winning. Which is never going to happen, by the way, because even if all of us could satiate our desire to win in a normal lifetime, we would never get to that point; eventually the competition would get so hot that innocent bystanders would end up in the hospital and various family members would have to be bailed out of jail.
But until the Amazing Carter/Rushton Race is banned from the universe for the better good of mankind, I'm pretty sure we'll create some pretty legendary stories. I can just see all the uncles 50 years from now—all of them completely bald and unable to walk—telling their grandchildren, "When I was your age, I nearly killed your great-uncle when I towed his car into the swimming pool down town."
You gotta love family reunions.