Let's face it, as Dads, all we want to be are real-life superheroes. Bullet-proof, infallible, capable of all things. For this reason alone, winning my daughter a stuffed unicorn at the San Mateo County Fair two years ago was one of my greatest "dad wins" ever and, in the moment, the only thing that mattered. The thing is, I SUCK at those games. MAYBE I've won one other thing in my life. The odds of it actually happening were slim-to-none.
We walked up to the balloon dart-board game, she pointed to one of the biggest stuffed animals on the rack and said:
"Daddy, I want the unicorn."
The unicorn was the holy grail. It required expert marksmanship: all three darts had to hit their marks for this dream to happen and I was determined to make it a reality. No pressure.
The first dart sailed true and terminated it's target with extreme prejudice. My daughter was delighted to hear the loud "pop!" as I dispatched the first balloon with the precision of a trained government assassin. The hit on dart number two was just as deadly and efficient. I've totally got this. I could already visualize the unicorn in my daughter's arms and a 'thank you' hug and kiss firmly planted on my cheek. It was coming.
Then came the moment of reckoning.
The third dart sailed wide. Not only did it miss the balloon, it almost missed the board entirely barely hitting the corner before falling harmlessly to the asphalt. It was over and I had failed.
The carnie saw my look of utter devastation and seized the moment to make a quick buck.
"I'll give you one more for two bucks."
Hell yeah I was taking that deal. Dart number four knew it was put on this earth for one purpose alone: To bring home the unicorn.
The throw, the pop, the win.
The squeal, the hug, the smile in the photo.
Greatest. Day. Ever.