We were two cars racing head on towards each other, playing Chicken, and waiting for the other to swerve first. The black tar of the road was left with the skid marks of you taking off too quickly not allowing your tires to gain traction under the heavy weight of your car’s frame. I understood the rush. You had to jump on the chance of playing this game with someone so willing and eager to meet your approval. All you wanted was to destroy, and I was willing to lend a hand by playing along. It all came down to who was more daring, and who was willing to go the farthest without turning the wheel to avoid the crash.
I understood at the time only three choices, the first being that you could swerve out of the way while I didn’t. You would have reached your limits with me, but you cared enough not to hurt me. You avoid the crash, but I get to be selfish by trying to love you, irregardless of consequence and the hurt I would cause you. Choice two was a reversal of the first: I swerve, but you keep heading straight towards me. We miss each other, but now you are willing to hurt me to get what you want. You don’t care, up until the last second, if I am going to pull the wheel, and you definitely don’t mind scraping my side doors and scarring me. There is a certain pain in knowing our friendship was worth less than the short term satisfaction of winning a game. The last choice evident to me was a head-on collision: total destruction. No one pulls the wheel, no one swerves out of the way. In this last case, neither of us are willing to give in and admit how being willing to hurt each other is wrong. In this scenario, we continue on the path we are on regardless of consequences, pretending the future is a vague concept rather than rushing towards us, and needing one of us to take the responsible course of action and end the game, but losing pride and the person you care for the most in the process.
These were the three courses of action that I saw as our engines revved and we both took off from the north and south. All these options would hurt me, but I played the game because I wanted to see what would occur (because, who wouldn’t?).
So this is how it happened: I swerved at the last minute as you kept the steering wheel steady between your two hands, content in meeting me head on.
What I didn’t understand is why you didn’t swerve? How did you know that I’d back down first? How were you so willing to see me hurt if it meant you’d win? I didn’t want to swerve either, but I also knew that one of us had to try and avoid the impact of decisions we were heading towards.
There was a fourth option that didn’t find it’s way into my thoughts until recently..
Option four was that we both swerved. We both saw the ways in which we treated each other as being wrong, and we both swerved away at the same time, maybe even long before we had committed to this game. Thus, we are given the opportunity to hurt each other and make impact, but we choose not to and step away from the situation. That would have been fair, wouldn’t you say?
We both should have swerved. Why was that so hard?
This is how you broke my heart: game theory.