| Each of us is born with some sort of weird or unusual knack or ability. When I was a kid I knew other kids who could fold their tongues up on the sides and would demonstrate that peculiar talent with each other as if it were some kind of contest. If you couldn't fold your tongue you were looked upon with a certain amount of pitiful amusement. A lot of people could do it, but I was completely incapable. For some reason I got it in my head that it was a talent that could be acquired through practice, so I spent more hours than I care to remember sitting in front of a mirror trying to fold up my tongue, a process that involved a considerable amount of facial contortions. I was lucky that my face didn't freeze that way. Someone finally informed me that the ability to fold up one's tongue was strictly hereditary, a fact that ended my quest and made it possible for me to blame my failure on my parents. It was all good in the end.
My son, Chuck, recently realized that I possess an odd talent that surprised him thoroughly and which he can use to his advantage. He likes to play video games, primarily the kind that involve some full scale military conflict or other and he prides himself on his virtual reality combat skills. Thankfully, he is fully aware that the ability to push buttons and move joysticks really fast in no way involves the skills necessary in combat, a reality that far too frequently seems to elude some of his friends and people he plays with. He likes to play online with lots of other faceless people, with whom he sometimes communicates via a special microphone. One evening I was sitting next to him on the couch sewing a hem on a skirt and watching him play. I couldn't help noticing that none of the players appeared to be utilizing anything even remotely like tactics in the game. Mostly they just ran around spraying about a zillion rounds of automatic fire everywhere willy-nilly, with no plan and no coordination between team members. It was just a lot of noise and things blowing up with very little progress toward the goal. I asked Chuck about it and he told me that was what most people did. I suppose it seems like a good idea if your demise to reincarnation period lasts about 10 seconds. Who needs finesse? I had him tell me about the game, just basic stuff, like numbers of players, the various goals, what they had for arms and ordinance, etc., and then I studied the playing field. I told him that unlike in real life, sniping more than once or twice from a fixed position was causing him to get shot. “Mom,” he said, sighing manfully, “when you find a good sniping spot you usually stay in it.”
“For sure,” I agreed, “if you want the enemy to spot your muzzle flash and take you out. On the other hand, if you move even marginally in any direction immediately after taking your shot, you will have the chance to take out anyone who is targeting you before they can figure out what you are doing.” He pointed out that dead enemies can't see your muzzle flash. I countered with the facts that one of the other totally unrealistic 20 snipers would see it (sniping seems to be very popular in these games) and/or his dead enemy would be back in 10 seconds and unless he was a total idiot, would remember where the shot came from. He admitted I was right and began to do what I told him to do. I then made a number of suggestions for strategies to quickly and successfully capture the enemy base, which weapons with what qualities were best for each operation, and theorized about how he should coordinate with his team. He did what I said and made suggestions via the microphone to his team mates. They ignored him at first until the round was over and his statistics were far better than anyone else in the game. The next round he passed on everything I told him, his squad actually listened, and presto...the round was over and they were the victors in record time with minimal virtual casualties.
The fact of the matter is, for some odd reason, I have this bizarre ability with military tactics and strategy. Maybe it's in the blood. When I was in the Army and we had any tactical exercises, I was always head of the class. Sadly, back in those days, they didn't allow women to do any of that kind of thing, for all I know, they still don't. My commanding officer used to bemoan the fact that I was a woman and ask why I couldn't have been a man, which didn't exactly endear him to me. I didn't blame him too much though, I was a female soldier with a weird natural ability for which there was no practical outlet in the Army. It's kind of silly, really. Any woman who has had to work at a job while simultaneously running a household full of kids, their friends, various animals, and differing schedules and goals knows all about strategy and tactics.
Chuck was duly impressed, but reluctant to let on that he was.
“Now I know why we always have to approach weekend chores like the invasion of Normandy,” he snarked.
“If you don't get to cover immediately you are going to be shot,” I told him calmly.
Right after I said it someone put a virtual bullet in his virtual character. Serves him right. I love it when a plan comes together.