The tiddlywinks channel
Two men sat at a table, several tiddlywinks in front of each of them, their attention on the little pot in the middle. They were not smiling. They were concentrating. After all, it was the eighth-finals. And it was being broadcast on the Twiddlywinks Channel.
“Hey, I used to—”
“Shh!” someone hissed. “This is important!”
Everyone else in the bleachers surrounding the table on all four sides clearly agreed. They were absolutely quiet. Respectful. The player in the red uniform focused, thinking very hard about his next move.
“The squidger!” someone shouted to him helpfully. “You have to pick up the squidger!”
After a few more very long tension-filled moments, the player picked up his squidger. Everyone cheered.
“Okay, now flip your wink into the pot!” someone else said encouragingly.
The player studied the table, concentrating.
“The pot’s in the center of the table!” Another supportive fan.
Just as he was about to flip his wink, he stopped. The crowd held its breath.
He pulled a squidger cloth from his pocket and cleaned the squidger.
Then he studied the table again, leaning to the left and the right. Then he got up from his chair and took another look at the table.
“He’s gotta be careful not to go offside,” the commentator whispered.
“He does,” the other commentator agreed, “but he’s gotta take a good reading of the distance and angle of orientation involved in this next shot. He might not get another one.”
Satisfied, the player returned to his seat and stared at the pile of blue and red winks in front of him. Finally, he picked up a red one. And made the shot.
A groan rose from half the crowd as the wink fell short of the pot. The other half cheered.
“Let’s watch the replay of that shot, Jim.”
The shot was replayed. In slow motion.
“Oh, see that? It fell short.”
“Yeah, that’s a shame.”
The shot was replayed again, this time from a different angle.
“Yes, it definitely fell short, Joe, no doubt about that call.”
A few tense moments later, the player in yellow flipped his last wink. It landed on the red wink that had fallen short. Even louder groans and cheers rose from the crowd.
“Oh, he’s been squopped!” Jim cried out. “That’s gotta be humiliating.”
“Yes, and that’s game,” the camera cut to a clock. “Let’s hope the crowd keeps it together. We don’t want a repeat of the riot that occurred yesterday.”
“We’re going to cut to a commercial while the referee tallies up the tiddlies—”
Several fans were on their feet in the bleachers, shouting and shaking their fists.
The commercial was for a complete set of twiddlywink player cards. Twenty-five in all, a different player, menacing in close-up, on each card.
“Well, Joe,” they were back on the air, and the referee had declared the player in yellow to be the winner, “this is a real shame. A real shame. And I don’t think anyone of us saw this coming, Cody out of the quarter-finals. If anyone could’ve made that last shot, Cody could’ve. He’s one of the best players in the league.”
“And one of the highest paid too, at $5.2 million last year,” Jim said.
“You know, he even had a twiddlywinks scholarship to Princeton.”
Jim shook his head. “What’s the world coming to?”
Jass Richards has a master’s degree in philosophy and for a (very) brief time was a stand-up comic (now she’s more of a sprawled-on-the-couch comic). Despite these attributes, she has received four Ontario Arts Council grants. In addition to her Rev and Dylan series (The Road Trip Dialogues, The Blasphemy Tour and License to Do That), which has reportedly made people snort root beer out their noses, she has written This Will Not Look Good on My Resume, a collection of short stories described as “a bit of quirky fun that slaps you upside the head,” and its sequel, Dogs Just Wanna Have Fun (“… terrifically funny and ingeniously acerbic…” Dr. Patricia Bloom, My Magic Dog). All of her books, including her most recent, TurboJetslams: Proof #29 of the Non-Existence of God, can be purchased (in print and various e-formats) at all the usual online places. “The TwiddlyWinks Channel” is adapted from License to Do That.