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Humor July 2015

Ernie's World

The Amazing (I lived) Race

By Ernie Witham

We found out we arrived third and were therefore eliminated. It was probably okay. The next task was to run back down the wharf to the beach and dig for the envelope. My calves were screaming, my lungs exploding. Even my hair hurt.

We do not have regular family birthdays. One year we had a 50-foot inflatable obstacle course. Another year we had a western theme, complete with a roping steer made from a wooden sawhorse and a "snakes in your boots" game.

Still, when 13-year-old Charlie said he wanted “The Amazing Race” as his theme, we all did a collective "huh?"

"You don't mean like the one on television, that goes all over the world?"

"Nope. Just around here."

We did a collective "whew!"

The game started in our backyard with four sets of colored t-shirts: red, blue, orange and green. "The color of your t-shirt determines your team."

Charlie yelled: "Go!" We ran the length of the backyard to get our first envelope. "Go to the tennis court," it said. "One team member must hit two tennis balls into the mid-court bucket while the other member solves a puzzle." Four of us started hitting balls. After we all missed we said: "now what?"

"You have to run to the other end, get the balls, run back and keep trying until you make two," Charlie said. So we did. Again and again and again. I wondered briefly if anyone in the family knew CPR.

Finally, a few balls went in and we got down on our hands and knees to help our partners assemble a 48-piece map-of-the-world puzzle. "I think Australia goes over here." "Africa seems to be upside down." Where's Canada, where's Canada?"

We earned our next clue. "Get in your car," it said.

"I thought the games were just around here," I said to Charlie.

"Santa Barbara is just around here," he said, smiling and batting his eyelashes.

We read the rest of the clue: "Go to a place that used to hold the jail and has lots of murals. Go to the highest point. The last team to arrive will be eliminated."

"That's the Santa Barbara Courthouse!" We ran to the house, grabbed car keys and were out the door.

"Wait! Can we borrow a car?" The red team asked.

"Sure, take mine," I said.

It was Saturday. The courthouse was mobbed with tourists heading to the clock tower for the famous red-tile-roof view of Santa Barbara. "Excuse us. Pardon us," we said as we ran up flight after flight of stairs. I was now breathing so hard I was echoing off the historic walls. We decided to catch the elevator.

"We're pretty full," a tourist said.

"Nonsense," we said. The red team came bounding up the stairs and squeezed on also. The door would not close. An alarm went off.

"Too much weight," the tourist said.

"Nonsense," we said. Finally, the red team jumped off and the door closed.

On the roof, Charlie handed us the next task. "Run to the sunken gardens. Look for the tutus."

"Tutus?"

"One team member has to put on a tutu and dance to the “Nutcracker Suite” for a minute and 13 seconds, while the other person records it on their phone." We danced. I forgot to hit the record button. We danced again, a bit less enthusiastically.

We were now down to three teams. The next task: "Go to a statue with dolphins. Run to the compass on the floor at the Center of the Sea."

"Stearn's Wharf!" We headed down Garden Street. I saw my car behind us. Then I saw my car pass us. "Wait!"

We found parking on Chapala. The orange team was already on the wharf. The red team ran past us. We raced by throngs of tourists. "Excuse us. Pardon us," I wheezed.

At the compass we found out we arrived third and were therefore eliminated. It was probably okay. The next task was to run back down the wharf to the beach and dig for the envelope. My calves were screaming, my lungs exploding. Even my hair hurt.

The final task was to buy a pint of Haagan Daz chocolate ice cream, then meet at Charlie's house. When we arrived, the red team was wearing new shirts. They were bright yellow and had giant letters on them that said: "WINNER."

"Thanks for letting us use the car," they said. "You probably would have won if we didn't have your car."

Next birthday, if I survive, no more Mr. Nice Guy!

 

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