In Oklahoma one of our favorite pastimes is horseshoes. At each end of the dirt (north to south or east to west) is a metal stake in the ground. You stand at one end and throw the u-shaped horseshoe to try and make a ringer on the stake. We can play this for several hours. I never perfected the game of horseshoes. I would throw the horseshoe and it would swing around the stake and fall off never quite staying around the stake. I could repeat this action for the longest time while others could get a dead ringer; they could do it. As a child I opted to watch rather than participate; it was a scary game to me – what if I couldn’t do it? What if I could never make a ringer? What if I spent each time with the same problem: almost a ringer but not quite.
As I got older, I started to participate and found my prediction to be correct; almost a dead ringer but not quite. The game became impossible for me so I eventually gave it up altogether. For some reason, this is the pastime where I grew up. The idea that you put your energy into throwing something to chance, hold your breath, wait and almost have it within your grasp but then by chance you lose it; game over. It’s like the wastebasket game; if I make this into the wastebasket it will happen, but if I miss it won’t. Though much like horseshoes you keep trying for a ringer, but with the wastebasket game it becomes best two-outta-three.
This pastime isn’t like football, basketball, or baseball where you win or lose. It’s not like a board game where there is strategy. It’s not even like a video game where it’s about your reaction. Nope, this pastime is about aiming and crossing your fingers that everything you gave was enough to swirl around that stake and stay; a ringer. Everyone is trying for a ringer, but too often it ends up try after try after try until eventually, maybe, you get one. Then, there are those people that can throw a horseshoe at the stake and get a ringer every time. No talent, no skill, just luck. I suppose that is why a horseshoe symbolizes good luck.