(This was a comment in another thread, but I thought I’d promote it to actual post and perhaps even start a series of stories from my life. Just for the sake of posterity, you know.)

I don’t know why, but as a child I developed a rather strange game to keep me occupied. It was a sort of stick-whacking single-elimination tournament. I spent quite a bit of an entire summer playing this game.

I would go out in the yard and find two sticks, and then I’d toss one up in the air and whack it with the other one. Then I’d reverse the sticks and do it again and again until one of them broke. The unbroken stick would survive to the next round.

Eventually I found this one stick that was, I think, part of an old gnarled root. It wasn’t very thick, except on one end where a gnarly knot swelled up. It was sturdy enough to swing like a bat, but flexible enough to bend when whacked with another stick.

Once I picked up that stick, it was unbeatable. It easily defeated sticks twice as thick as itself time after time. Held on the knotless end, the gnarly knot became the head of a wooden club that whipped into opposing sticks with thunderous force.

For weeks that one stick dispatched dozens of sturdier looking sticks. It was the Spiderman of stickdom. Small and scrawny, it hid an inner strength of ten normal sticks. Wiry and tough, it absorbed the crushing blows of bigger sticks and snapped back into shape with no more than the loss of bits of bark.

So of course that meant the competition had to escalate. Eventually that wiry little knot-headed stick was breaking sticks as thick as my leg (well, I was pretty scrawny then). And it wouldn’t be one hit either, these were epic battles, with each blow on the wiry little stick sending it dozens of yards downfield, sometimes leading to frantic searches in underbrush to retrieve it.

That little stick never failed me, but I failed the little stick. One day, in yet another epic battle with a bruiser of a log, My whipping aim was off, and instead of catching the log with the knot, it hit just below the knot, and with that one hit, the Spiderstick was destroyed. I looked in stunned silence at the broken remains in my hand as the knot head whirled through the air to be lost forever in the woods behind our trailer.

A sad day. I never had the heart to play the stick olympics again.