The Showdown at Willow Rock

The above picture of the dollar doesn’t and can’t display itself as a hard-earned dollar. With the naked eyes, it’s viewed simply as is.

It’s a crazy world out there, especially now when you consider the political divide in our nation. People are edgy. Drivers around Central New York seem to be bigger dickbags lately. And who knows how much will society will regress?

I’ll have you know the mentioned dollar was made in a showdown. It wasn’t a battle with bullets, but a risky and mental ordeal.

Willow Rock Brewing Company is one of Syracuse’s newest breweries, and it will be celebrating its one-year anniversary next week. To commemorate the event, they’ll be releasing three limited edition beers: Bear (a hoppy imperial amber), Ninja (Russian imperial stout) and Cowboy (bourbon barrel-aged scotch ale). To piggyback: There will also be a “Bear, Ninja, Cowboy” tournament as well, which will cost $10 to enter.

The information about the event is splashed all over the digital world, and it’s just as obvious in the brewery, which is located at 115 Game Road (near the now-closed Danzer’s as a reference point).

According to Urban Dictionary, the game is played in similar fashion to the immortal “Rock, Paper, Scissors,” with the exception it’s performance-based. You still get to use your hands, but to emphasize your choice.

While at the brewery for the Syracuse Area Paranormal meet-and-greet and while waiting for my crowler of brunch to be filled, sealed and delivered into my paws, it was difficult not to talk to the adjacent person chuckling about it.

To prepare, you’re going to have to practice. — I said.

She looked back at me. Would you like to play?

Yeah, let’s do it.

How much do you want to play for?

In a split second the game evolved from joking around and practice to a monetary-fueled game of chance. No matter, it was a matter of dignity.

I asked — Oh, we’re betting on this?

Yes, She said. How about a buck?


To me, I looked older. Although older doesn’t necessarily mean wiser — and not to discredit the infallibility of a woman’s intuition — being older does speak for experience. Over the last couple years I’ve had better luck with handy games of  chance.

While we were discussing the terms of our agreement, her friend walked just in time to be the judge.

This isn’t your great-great-great grandfather’s take fifteen paces, turn and draw ordeal. The two competitors have to face each other, looking into each other’s eyes and trying to get a glimpse into the other’s soul.

Go! — the friend said. There was barely enough time to collect thoughts and prepare a strategy. Her arms flew up and her claw-like hands were raised above her head. Her mouth was in a scowl. She was Bear.

Bear, I have determined, is the Rock equivalent simply based on confidence, bluntness and ferocity.

My hands flung up into Cowboy, guns blazing. My pistols are up for discussion, but it was clear I was ready to fire into a beastly mammal. Instead of opting for stereotypical finger pistols, I held an invisible gun; blame it on the improv. My forefinger was in “coochy-coo” tickle the cheek of a child position.

The rules are as is: Bear mauls Ninja. Ninja kicks the crap out of Cowboy. Cowboy shoots, kills Bear.

Uh! — She said in disbelief, and she tilted her head back. She reached into her pocket for the dollar.

No. — I said. I wasn’t going to let her off that easily. It’s always best out of three. She shrugged her shoulders as if to say of course.

I first kicked myself, because it could have been over. One-and-done. In-and-out, local procedure. However, I enjoy a good competition.

We took our positions. As the thoughts of what next ran through my head, my forehead twitched with the drops of perspiration hanging on for dear life. If one of those salty bombs were to get into my eye, the game could be determined by that distraction.

I ruled out her using Bear again. Since it was a new game, she would want to try to get the most out of it and try new things. The feeling was mutual. What she had was Cowboy and Ninja to work with.

My guess was: She thinks I’m going to go with Bear. As previously mentioned, Bear is the go-to Rock equivalent. When you win with Rock, it’s always a great win. Break those scissors.

However, my scissors refused to be broken.


I broke out my ninja skills, kicked the two pistols out of her hands and took the victory.

She slapped the folded dollar in my hand. And for a brief moment I felt as proud and confident as the Bear. I didn’t roar in celebration; that would have been strange. However, I did collect my Brunch stout filled-crowler, which let out a snap of satisfaction when cracking it later that night.


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