Description of a Game
(A Piece for Four Hands)

Alexander Waxman

I. The Very Basic Basics

Rock, Paper, Scissors is a game played by brothers, for it is the meaningful resemblance of hands which lends the game its poignancy. In order to determine if the game you are playing is Rock, Paper, Scissors, ask yourself the following question: Is the person standing or sitting across from me with his fist clenched and raised in the air as if to strike my brother? If the answer is yes, then chances are the game you are playing is Rock, Paper, Scissors, or at least one like it.

II. Zen

Rock, Paper, Scissors is a true mental game, and so best played when the lines connecting the brothers' brains are taut, prone, strong, attached with invisible three-pronged hooks with barbs such as those found on fishing lures like The Atom Popper, The Bleeding Wild Shiner, The Sinking Twitchbait, The Top Dog Jr. Surface Walker, and Swedish-style swimmers like Redfins and Hellcats that fool bass, blues, and fluke all season.

III. The Approach

The brothers will stand or sit facing each other at a distance of one to two meters -- neither too close, nor too far -- in keeping with the separation of years between them.

IV. Team Colors

Team colors will be worn as determined by the succession of the brothers' births. These colors will serve to clearly differentiate the older brother (blue) from the younger brother (red).

V. On Siblings

It's how you feel you've been treated.

VI. Optimal Pitches

Optimal pitches are various, and were recently been expanded to include the following:
1. Down in the dark dirt under the painted deck slats.
2. In the tall grass beyond the Fisherman's Landing.
3. On the long-scarred blacktop.
4. In the shadowy shed amid the rusty shovels and spades, the plastic trashbins, the spent propane tanks, high-power headlamps, fishing rods engraved with names on their reels, the chum bucket, the splintered moss-grown shingle that doubles as a pitcher's rubber in summer months, the bulging plug bag hanging from its hook, the crusted clam rake, the father's rain suit hung upside-down from its boots, the gaff hook with the clear plastic grip and the cork stuck to its tip, the fillet knife in the leather sheath, spools of salt-crusted rope.
5. In the bowels of the groaning steel ferry.
6. In the TV room with the TV set and the matching husband pillows, the scratchy wool blankets.

Note: In order to unlock Rock, Paper, Scissors' unique possibilities, a hearty constitution is a must. As such, sick brothers, crippled brothers, syphilitic brothers, arthritic brothers, septic brothers, dyspeptic brothers, gangrenous brothers, brothers with gout, ringworm, rot gut, diarrhea, piles, cerebral-palsy, tremors, strep throat, festering wounds, brothers trapped in wells, drooling chair-bound brothers, deaf-mute brothers, brothers suffering senility, vertigo, psycho-sexual afflictions, genetic abnormalities, brothers awaiting kidney transplants, drunk brothers, blind brothers, fasting brothers, brothers with severed spinal cords, etc. should be forced to watch from the upstairs window, through a pair of Baltimore Colts binoculars, by parting the slats of the venetian blinds.

VII. Stakes

Prior to the casting of the hands, the brothers will describe and agree upon the stakes, which include (but are not limited to):

1. Who will lean down and look over the lip of cliff.

2. Who will steer the light skiff with the sputtering motor.

3. Who will sponge out the curled-up saw bugs soaking in the sink.

4. Who will fetch the overthrown ball that has bounced into the beach plums.

5. Who will own up to the broken windshield.

6. Who will ride up front next to the father and get to do the stick shift.

7. Who will don the good chest waders and who will wear the leaky rubber boots.

VIII. The Striking Stance

Once the pitch has been established and the stakes have been agreed upon, the brothers will raise their hands in the air and clench them tightly above their shoulders as if to strike. This is known as the "striking stance." Once the stance has been assumed (or assuming the stance is continual) there will follow three preliminary thrusts of the fists against the air. (Note: these thrusts are not the actual casting of the hands, but strictly preliminary, meant to establish rhythm and induce the hypnagogic state.)

VIII. Hypnagogic States

As the fists descend, time and space will recline along invisible axis, equally and readily outwards in all directions. Observable trance states have included: deep blue shading to violet, abutting, cylindrical, white, and Fellini-esque.


In the casting of the hands, the brothers must project one of the following hand configurations:
The Bludgeoning Rock
The Smothering Paper
The Hungry Shears
Neither brother may hesitate in the casting of his hand, whether he cast rock, paper, or scissors. Should either brother fail to cast his hand, or should the younger brother fling a befuddled fist, then the older brother may abort, and leave his brother standing alone on the pitch.

IX. Once in the Theatre of Hands

Once the hands have been cast between them and they are laid out in one of the three possible configurations, the brothers' hands will touch. The hands (now touching) will act out one of the following:

1. The rock (as represented by the tightly clenched fist) will descend and smash the scissors to bits.

2. The paper (as represented by the blank rigid hand) will come down and cover the rock, cutting off its oxygen supply.

3. The scissors (as represented by the two extended fingers opening and closing) will eat into the sheet.

In the case of paired hands, the brothers will immediately retract, pump their fists three times against the air, and cast again, until an opposing combination is put forth.

Final Note: Only when the older brother has claimed his victory will the younger brother go to the shed, retrieve the red plastic gas can, screw in the collapsible nozzle, douse himself with gasoline, and perform ritual immolation at his brother's feet.