Decisions, Decisions

At the Southwestern U.S. Pro-Am Rock Paper Scissors Invitational, the choices are limited, the competition fierce

"You can win this thing!" says Peter Adams his friend and "client" Haught Carlof San Francisco limbers up in the shade. Despite the strip of tape across Carl's chest that reads, "I'm throwing scissors," Carl practices all three moves. Telling your opponent what you're going to throw is a well-known maneuver on the circuit. A snazzy outfit with sweatbands and short shorts doesn't hurt either. Of course it doesn't always help. And it definitely doesn't help this time.

"I didn't get the position on the field I wanted," complains Carl after his quick defeat. "I'm used to the European grip. Everything went wrong when I went with the 90-degree paper."

According to World RPS rules, paper must be thrown parallel to the ground so as not to be confused with scissors. All other variations will be disqualified.

"This competition is shit!" pouts CoachHa, a petulant Healdsburg "loser" who is rumored to be trying to buy his way back into the competition. "Last year, you could buy your way back in. This year, no one's budging."

"We're here to insure that the rules of play are observed and the officiating is held up to world standards," affirms Graham Walker as the wine flows and the music of DJ Laird thumps across the patio.

"I expect a decent level of competition at the regional level," says Roshambollah, "but honestly I haven't even broken a sweat yet."

Under a nearby umbrella, the 10-year-old Bullis admits to being nervous now that he knows what he's up against. Not to mention the $1,000 at stake. He calms his nerves by playing video games on his father's cell phone while his family keeps him supplied with Rock Star energy drinks.

"It's just for fun," assures his father, but even he seems a bit taken aback by the media attention.

In the next round, both Bullis and Roshamballah are eliminated. The final eight include first-time competitors Laine Justice and Jennifer Derrick of Healdsburg; Tiffany Talley of Santa Rosa; and Zana Svihir and Ayelette Robinson of San Francisco.

"It's a fix," slurs CoachHa. "All the competitors are sleeping with the owner of the winery."

While CoachHa's accusations prove overblown, Roshambo Winery president Naomi Johnson Brilliant breathes a sigh of relief when her boyfriend Scott Keneally loses to "Cool Hand" Robinson. The final round, between steely-eyed Robinson and the blond and boozy Derrick, proves to be a nail-biter.

"Remember Maverick!" shouts a Robinson supporter in reference to the moment when Derrick made the young boy cry. "Remember Maverick!"

Despite the taunts, Derrick proves unflappable. When Robinson finally cracks a smile midway through the round, everyone in the crowd knows it's all but over.

"Sure, I felt bad for the kid," says Derrick, not sounding bad at all when asked about Maverick, "but this is a competition, right? You gotta do what you gotta do."

Trophies and monies are issued: $100 and a doll with a bronze hand for a head to Tiffany Talley; $500 and a silver "hang ten" hand to Ayelette Robinson; and $1,000 with a gold "fuck you" finger to Jennifer Derrick. It seems a sad way to end the day.

"Street match. In the parking lot," hisses CoachHa.

A motley, somewhat drunken crew gathers in the parking lot next to the roach coach. Crumpled dollar bills are exchanged -- four dollars, ten dollars, and the big money game for $20 between CoachHa and San Francisco's Dan Rollman. Two of the day's lesser referees offer to officiate. The circle tightens. Jeering, pushing, yelling, belligerent challenges, and still Rollman takes it all.

"I never win in tournament," says Rollman. "Not one throw. But out here I kill. I'm like a streetballer, one of those guys who'll never play in the NBA, but you gotta respect their skill."

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