34: The Feather Duster

34: The Feather Duster

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Amazing Mom

The Feather Duster

It may be that all games are silly.

But then, so are humans.

~Robert Lynd

“Mom, I just landed on you,” I said with a fake apologetic look on my seven-year-old face. “And you know what that means.”

Mom sighed. “And I was almost home, too.” We were playing the board game Trouble, and everyone knows that if you land on another player’s piece, he or she has to start all over.

I shrugged and apologized, although I wasn’t really sorry.

Mom pushed down on the Pop-O-Matic device that the good people at the toy company designed to replace actually rolling a dice. “I never win when we play games,” she said.

“But it’s still fun, right?” my little sister, Mandy, asked.

“Yes, it’s always fun spending time with you guys,” she said. Her smile grew bigger. “You’re my monsters.” It might sound bad, but that was what she called my siblings and me. She said it with such love that we all knew it was a term of endearment, just the same as “honey” or “sweetie.”

“If I roll a five, I win,” my older brother, Mike, said. He pressed the Pop-O-Matic and up popped the five. “Yes!” he hissed, with a fist in the air.

“How could you have won already?” Mom asked. “I’m not even close.”

“That’s because we all landed on you and sent you back to Start,” I said. “I think each of us sent you back at least once.”

Mom pretended to pout. “How many times did you guys have to start over?”

“Not as many times as you did,” Mike said with a grin.

“So who wants to play again?” I asked.

“Not me,” Mom said. “If I don’t win, it’s no fun.”

“That’s not good sportsmanship.”

Mom grinned. “I know. I’m only kidding. I can’t play again because I’ve got housework to do.”

My siblings and I reset the game while Mom got out the feather duster.

“Mom, will you please play with us again?” Mandy asked. “It’s so much more fun when you play.”

She pretended to think about it. “Will you make me go back to Start this time?”

“If we land on you, we will,” I said pragmatically.

Mom wrinkled her nose. “Then I’m not playing.” She turned and started dusting the lamps in the room.

“Please, Mom, won’t you play?”

With no warning, Mom turned and started tickling us with the feather duster. “I told you, if I don’t win, it’s no fun!” she said, giggling.

We screamed and held up our hands to block the tickling. But the feather duster’s long handle gave her the advantage. We jumped up and ran away from her. To our surprise—and delight—she chased us, still giggling and tickling whomever she could reach.

We ran around the house, laughing so hard it hurt, while Mom chased us. All the while, she was shouting, “If I don’t win, it’s no fun,” which was eventually shortened to, “I no win, no fun.”

I don’t know how long the game lasted, but it felt like hours. I was breathless—both from running and from laughing—by the time Mom stopped chasing us and returned to using the feather duster for its intended purpose.

When my dad got home from work that night, we told him about our new game, which we’d dubbed, “I no win, no fun.” Dad smiled and nodded, but we could tell he didn’t get it. It just sounded strange for a thirty-something-year-old woman to be chasing her children around the house with a feather duster.

And maybe it was strange, but maybe that’s what made it so wonderful. My mom was like everyone else’s mom. She cooked our dinner and washed our clothes. She worked part-time in our local library. Chasing us around the house with a feather duster was out of character for her. It was so unexpected—in the most wonderfully crazy way.

When I was a kid, we took a family vacation every summer. Every year, Mom and Dad piled us into our station wagon—complete with wood paneling—and drove us from Indiana to one of America’s must-see attractions. I’ve seen the Grand Canyon, Old Faithful, and Mount Rushmore. I’ve been to Washington, D.C., Hershey, Pennsylvania, and even the Vermont Teddy Bear Company factory. My parents went to a lot of effort to make these family vacations memorable for my siblings and me.

But strange as it may be, “I no win, no fun” is one of my fondest childhood memories.

To this day, more than thirty years later, I still vividly recall the look on her face and the sound of her laughter as she chased us.

Only my mom could take a feather duster and turn it into the best day ever.

~Diane Stark

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