For boys too young to drive, there is another version of Chicken; it’s played with a knife. The participants stand a few feet apart, facing each other, and barefoot. Then, they take turns throwing the knife, sticking it in the ground as close as possible to the bare feet of their opponent. Whoever flinches or moves is the loser—they are “chicken.”
I’ve always been a little stubborn, or determined as I choose to call it, especially when it comes to games and even more so for those games that might label me chicken. Having an older brother who thrived on testing me only served to steel my resolve. Which is how one day I ended up with a knife between my toes.
It’s been about 40 years ago now but I remember the scene like it was yesterday. I watched the knife flipping through the air, knowing it was headed straight for my foot. But I didn’t move. Then, I felt the steel blade against the skin of both of my toes. Still, I didn’t move. I knew if I so much as twitched a muscle, my brother would call me chicken—for the rest of my life. Couldn’t have that, knife wounds would heal. Being branded a chicken could last forever!
Looking down at the knife, I waited for what I thought would be a delayed reaction pain, but none came. And no blood appeared! The blade of the knife was positioned perfectly in the small slit of space next to my big toe. It took a few seconds to realize that I still had my toes intact, all of them! I hadn’t even been cut!
Of course, I was quite pleased with myself. No one, best of all, my brother, could say I was chicken!
My brother though, was not quite as happy with the situation as I. I suppose all he could think of was how much trouble he’d be in had he chopped off my toes. (There may have been a twinge of worry about my well being too, I guess). I can still hear him excitedly yelling, “What were you thinking? Why didn’t you move?”
I got the distinct impression he was mad at me! And he wouldn’t finish our game either, ever. We never played that game again. That was kind of a bummer. On a positive note, he couldn’t ever call me chicken—and he didn’t. He did have another name for me though—idiot!