One morning my mother drove me to school. She interrupted my detailed speech arguing the beneficial aspects of getting a belly button ring to jack up the volume on the radio. In between sound clips of flapping dove wings and wind chimes her favorite Christian pop station announced a giveaway. She shoved her phone into my chest, shouted things like “Dial, damn it!”, and missed the signs for irony and the highway on-ramp. So I dialed God’s FM connection, damn it, and waited as rings and rings passed by. And then!
Nothing, just a prerecorded loop of hymns humming every forty rings or so. Midway through some song of victory in Christ, a voice answered, and so mind-numbed from focused waiting I replied in a shaken, awed voice. “Hello?,” was all I could say because in that minute I thought I’d managed to get Jesus on the line. “YOU’RE A WINNER! GOTTA A WINNER ON THE LINE! BIG WINNER! WINNING!,” The Son’s voice was less calm than I’d imagined it would be. “What’s your name, winner ?,” he asked and chucked. Less all-knowing that I’d expected, too. A few weeks later a gospel CD and a bumper sticker arrived in the mail. My mother snatched my loot, reasoning that technically she’d won by default since it was her phone and holy hip-hop channel of choice. I consoled myself with the notion that I was the real victor, in the spiritual side of things, as I’d been called a winner by a smooth-throated deity DJ.
Some of us just aren’t meant to win, I tell myself. Consistency is key, I also say, because lining my losses up in a tidy row makes them almost feel like some sort of successful streak. Throughout years of friends getting gift cards in the mail and relatives scraping pennies to scratch their way to cash prizes, and even my small son collecting the luckiest, prize-marked pumpkin in the patch, I’ve decided that it’s best not to count my losses and focus instead on why winning isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Who wants free money? Am I right? So I was just keeping with tradition when my brother recently asked for a ride to some run down office park in a grimy part of town. Yes, I was just staying true to my defeated self when said building housed a radio station and said radio station hosted a giveaway and said brother-bumming-ride won an all expense paid trip to some gloriously Mexican resort. So I rambled off all sorts of well wishes and congratulatory falseness and tried to talk myself into feeling like knowing a winner, driving a winner to fetch his winnings is a kind of like a victory despite the vicariousness of it all. Besides, I prefer the dry, frigid winter air, and I hear that besides the sunny beaches and fruity cocktails and overall relaxed vibe of paradise Mexico is pretty much a suck hole.
When it came time to draw some winning names for pretty blog prizes, I was above the whole idea of claiming them myself. One thousand entry slips marked TORITORITORITORITORITORI, well, that would just be ridiculous. Who has time for that right?
I do. But I didn’t. Stopped at 32 1/2 pregnant and or hanging chads before that pesky conscience talked me out of cheating.
So it is with nary an ounce of envy that I present a gorgeous, one-of-a-kind artwork from The Grace In Life to champion commenter Jacquelin Cangro . I’m so happy for you. Really. My neck gets this red when I’m elated, like a joy rash.
Congratulations you two. And for the rest of you, hold those loser heads up high. You’ve successfully accomplished not winning. A champion runner up is what you are. I can tell you from experience that counts for *something!
*Not a prize, though. Because you lost. So maybe something in the figurative sense… like a life lesson.. about losing?