The Problem with Competing Against Caroline

Okay. Here’s the deal. I’m a pretty competitive person. And it turns out that my wife’s a bit competitive, too. And from time to time those competitive spirits collide, if you will.

I’ve written about said collisions a time or two, you know. Most notably a tennis-related collision. I won’t bore you with the details, but the long story short is this: I used to regularly wax my wife at tennis. I’m talking 0-and-0-type stuff here.

But then she started playing tennis regularly and formally via a competitive league and went all Evonne Goolegong on me outta nowhere. So I challenged her to a match. And she…

kicked my ass.

6-4 in the first set (though I’d rallied from down 4-0, mind you) and 3-2 in a truncated second set. And while I had a hard time accepting defeat on that particular day, I eventually came around. I mean, it’s not like I’m some sore loser who sits around making up tons of excuses or anything. Besides, it was easy to be a gracious loser when I knew deep down inside that had I not been super out of shape I would have easily won despite the fact my wife plays, oh I dunno, 19 hours a week or whatever.

Anyway, I’ve challenged her several times since then. You know. To set the record straight. (And, for what it’s worth, that record is at least 5 to 1 in favor of yours truly.) But she’s all “Nope. I don’t want to.” I’m sure it has nothing to do with the fact that I’m in really good shape right now thanks to working out like a fiend for the past 18 months.

But by now, I’m off track. Because this post isn’t about tennis per se. It’s about competing against my wife. More specifically our battle on the cornhole court.

And no, cornhole is not a Beavis and Butthead term. Well, it is, but that’s not the context in which I use it here. Cornhole is a beanbag game whereby competitors take turns throwing their beanbags at a wooden board with a circular cutout near the top. Each bag that lands on the board is worth one point. Each bag that goes in the hole is worth three. The winner of each round is awarded his or her net score. So, for example, if one player scores five and another scores three, the player with five is awarded two points for the round. The first player to 21 wins.

And it turns out that Caroline loves her some cornhole (insert your joke here), but there’s just one problem. The only person she ever plays is me and I’m way, way, way better than she is.

So she’s instituted a handicap system whereby I spot her (get this) 20 points. So, in essence, to “win” all she needs to do is manage to outscore me by one measly point in any of the rounds we play.

Still, I’m an agreeable chap, so I spotted her 20. And the first round I got three in the hole and one on the board while she missed on all four of her throws. The next round? More of the same. I got three in and missed on the other while she, again, went goose egg.

“Oooh. Good try, honey,” I said as her last bag missed the mark. “Let’s see, 20 to 19. Close game, no?”

Eye roll. Possibly a bird flip. Tough to say.

My first bag that round? It went in.

“Okay. That’s it,” Caroline said.


“It’s not fair.”

“I know. I’ve spotted you 20 points. It’s totally not fair.”

“But you’re still killing me,” she said.

“No I’m not. I’m down by one.”

“Yeah,” she said, “but you’ve already got one in the hole this round. So that’s like three more.”

“Only if you don’t make a comeback this round. Remember, each round is a net score, Caroline.”

“I know it’s a net score. But it’s still not fair.”

“Well whaddya want me to do?”

“Not count that bag.”

“Okay. Fine,” I said. “We won’t count that bag.”

Big mistake. Because Caroline managed to squeak out one point that round, thereby winning the game 21 to 19.

“YES!” she screamed, complete with a Tiger Woods fist pump. “I win!”

I couldn’t resist pointing out the irony of such a celebration given that I’d spotted her 23 points in a game that only required 21 to win.

“You’re just mad because you lost.”

Which I was. No question. So we played again. And I spotted her 20 again. And I think she won that one “21” to 17.

“Wow!” she said at the end of that one. “Two in a row. I’m on FIRE!”

So we played again. And I rattled off 20 straight to “even” the score: 20 to “20.” And as we walked down to the board we’d just thrown at, Caroline kept right on walking. All the way through the door and inside our house.

“What are you doing?” I said. “It’s 20 all. There’s still more game left.”

“No,” she said with a nod of her head. “I don’t wanna play anymore.”

“Why not?”

“Because I wanna protect my winning streak.”

My face, a never-before-seen shade of red, I’m certain. I begged and lobbied and lobbied and begged for her to continue the game, but to no avail. She stood firm on wanting to protect her “winning streak.”

“That’s chicken shit,” I finally said.

“I don’t think it’s chicken shit,” she said.

“That’s because you’re the chicken who shit it.”

“Maybe. But this chicken won tonight’s cornhole tourney two games to zero, big boy. Deal with it.”

Ah, that Caroline. She’s a feisty little number, no?

By the way, if you have any “battle of the sexes” moments which involve your spouse or significant other, I’d love to hear about them. You know, in hopes of making myself feel better and all.

Thanks to my sister (who just started a blog) for the picture used above. Which, by the way, was taken with the world’s oldest camera ever.

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About john cave osborne

John Cave Osborne is a writer whose work has appeared on such sites as DisneyBaby, Babble, YahooShine, TLC and the Huffington Post. He was also referenced by Jezebel one time, but he’s pretty sure they were making fun of him. He and his wife, Caroline, live with their five children and spastic dog in Knoxville, TN. Nothing annoys him more than joke-heavy bios written in the third person, with the possible exception of Corey Feldman.

  • Home and Uncool

    I think the beard is holding back your game, man.

    • john cave osborne

      in more ways than one, i might add.

    • John Cave Osborne

      in more ways than one, bro. 

  • Graham da Ponte

    Thanks for the picture credit. I say, if it still takes pix worthy of a JCO blog it must be pretty awesome.

    • John Cave Osborne

      if you’d read to the end, dear sister, you would have seen the proper acknowledgement given, as well as the reference to what a POS it is. ha ha. 

  • Julie Higley

    Hilarious! Y’all crack me up!

    • John Cave Osborne

      i know, right? i’m telling you, Julie, she’s quite a card, that Caroline is. very feisty.