I was unaware of the intensity of my obsession with competitions until Edward told me of the Valentine contest that required a love story to be written in the form of a Haiku poem. The prize was pretty amazing, and I felt the adrenaline rush start at the bottom of my toes, and before I could ask who was responsible for the challenge, I was at my computer, fingers poised, ready to type.
Convinced that I could pen a decent ode, one worthy of competition status, and continue with my evenings designated tasks, in a very short time, I brought up a clean page on my screen. I can hear the laughter now from those who are familiar with this particular style of Japanese writing. 'Okay, Edward, so I have to write in poetry form, my love story'. Edward nodded, and repeated, 'in Haiku'. 'Uh huh', I replied, and then asked, 'What on earth is Haiku?'
The internet really is an amazing tool, and with a couple of clicks I found out exactly what was Haiku! Loosely translated, I had to write my own love story, in seventeen syllables, five in the first and last lines, with seven in the middle; refer to a season, nature and/or our physical senses. The last line had to encompass the 'whole thing'. I felt like I was playing a game of charades! Of course, those who know me understand that I couldn't give a simple 'Yes' or 'No' answer in less than seventeen words, let alone syllables. My personal love story, and how I got to be where I am now, is an epic adventure; it would have a section to itself in the library! Yet I was expected to put all of this into three lines. However, a challenge is a challenge, and within half an hour I had not only discovered the art of Haiku, but had written a poem, including all the attributes required, and entered the competition. The announcement of 'I've done it', was responded to with, 'Of course you have', from all three of my evenings household companions.
Winning is not a necessity. Coming second, or third, is not an option. Strange as it may seem, as competitive as I have come to realise that I am, I would rather come last than know I had a chance of winning, and blew it.
When I was working in Regent Street, London, I entered a Mother's Day Competition. I had to say why my mum was the best mum. Upon returning to work, I told my colleagues and read them my entry. My mum is the best mum, because....she always has the over-ripe banana, burnt piece of toast and fried egg with the broken yoke. They laughed so much that I decided not to mention it again. Approximately ten months, whilst eating dinner, my mum told me that I had received a letter from Dickens and Jones. With the competition having closed nearly a year earlier, I could only assume it was correspondence regarding my account. As I read the contents, I became totally incoherent, and finally let my mother take the letter from my hand. I had won a day out for my mum, tea in the restaurant, a hairdo and £100. The next day I managed to negotiate lunch instead of tea (I told them I cannot get time off work at 4pm), and a voucher for beauty treatments, as mum could not think of anything worse than sitting in a strange hairdresser for a couple of hours (obviously this is where I inherit my 'wasting time' programme). The £100 was accepted as graciously as it was given.
I haven't entered a competition 'physically' for many years. I am very focused and take no prisoners. Adrenaline is a mean beast and it rises within me and takes over. I see nothing but the prize. Of course when it is a quiz, I can't predict the questions, so have to rely on my dustbin mind. This is not the same as a mind like a dustbin. It means I store a lot of rubbish, trash and irrelevant information in my head. Trivial pursuit is an appetizer to the complex motherboard that is my brain. The only thing stopping me from becoming a genius University Professor is that all the answers are at the end of jumbled lines. If you have ever seen one of those puzzles that says, 'which path should the chicken take to reach the coop', (or similar) with all the squiggly lines, you have seen a picture of my very strange mind.
I once won a 'Krypton Factor' type contest. There were many different rounds. I came in second on the observation round, joint first in the general knowledge, and then there was an obstacle course. I would like to think that zimmer frame users would have been safe in my path, but looking back, it would be a close call. Not only did I win, but I didn't need the extra ten seconds 'compensation for girls'. It was a scary realisation that I was so competitive.
The best way I can justify my fascination (obsession makes it sound chronic!) is to compare it to other 'kicks', like roller coasters or fast cars.