“Your friend Cody is nice,” mom said, making obligatory communication. I rolled my eyes.
“Well, we had a nice conversation.”
“You and Cody?”
“He’s the kid with the chess kit?”
“We talked at the park. While I waited for your soccer game to end.”
“He’s not really my friend. He’s … kinda annoying.”
“Don’t you guys go to chess club together? You’ve been to his house.”
“We hang out, but he annoys me. He thinks he is SO good at chess. That’s all he talks about.”
Mom paused. “He thinks he’s good?”
“Like Bobby Fischer’s second coming.”
“Is he really good just thinks he is?”
Pre-teen’s worst dilemma – admitting your rival’s aptitude. “He usually beats me,” I said sheepishly. “Sometimes he attempts a strategy he read about in a book. Then I might win.”
“We played in the park. And I won. He didn’t seem that good.”
Occasionally mom indulges me with a game. She’s never won. Although sometimes I lighten up, give her a fighting chance.
“What was his opening move?”
“He jumped over the pawns and brought out a horse.”
“A knight? Aggressive move.”
“Maybe that was his problem. Trying too hard.”
I looked over her way to stage my disbelief face. Then I noticed her summer top. A lacy edge of bra showed through. Her face looked really clean, smoother than the faces of most other moms.
The next day I said, “Hey Cody, knight to king’s bishop three,” and punched his face.