Monday, October 29, 2007

A nice night for an evening

This past Saturday I attended the Lonestar Emmy Awards in Dallas. Nominated with two other programs in the Instructional/Informational category, my wife and I got all gussied up, dressed to then nines to look our best with all the news celebrities who would be all around us.

The lady to my left at our banquet table of 12 was a very cordial, amicable field reporter from an Austin network. She was not only up for an Emmy herself for a spot she did on a controversial court case with an unpopular verdict (just listening to her talk about it really made me wish I had seen her two minute piece in the name of justice), but she was also chosen to be a presenter. Knowing it was my first time, and being a little prescient perhaps, she was wanted to impress upon the fact that nobody "wins" the Emmy, we're ALL winners. One can only be "AWARDED" the Emmy. She never offered a phrase for those nominees who are NOT "awarded" the Emmy. If they didn't LOSE, were they just out-awarded?

Whatever you call this 2nd-tier class of nominees, I am now proudly a member of its club--meaning I was "out-awarded" in my category.

The evening started out with the usual apprehension that goes with me wearing a tie, but after we sat and met the people at our table (lucky table number 7), we became relaxed and began enjoying our salads. Then came our main course: expensive little meat thingies that resembled small sirloins. Apparently the more expensive a piece of meat (our tickets were $110 each), the less it is supposed to be cooked. My wife's meat thingie was so red, it could have been wearing a bell (and she's a well-done type of lady)! I'm more inspired by frugality and value, rather than my concerned for taste or acquiring some disease, so I ate all of mine. I thought it would be inappropriate to eat off her plate, so I sadly watched 6 cubic inches and $45 of meat thingie leave the table with the table attendant. Determined not to let this happen again, I showed less concern for Emmy etiquette when it came time for dessert. I'm not a big fan of custard (especially of Flan!), but I'll eat anything if I've paid for it, especially if I've paid too much for it.

So two Flan tower desserts later, I'm done with dinner and ready to receive my Emmy. As the program works slowly toward my category, I'm really not listening very carefully to the self-applauding comments of the celebrity presenters or the the mandated 15 second or less acceptant speeches; I was refining my speech in my mind, trying to trim it down to 15 seconds and make it so memorable that they'd have to give me another Emmy for my acceptance speech performance. I had the opening down, "Four score and twenty days ago . . .", I knew I'd mention math in there somewhere, acknowledge educators in general, thank my wonderful, beautiful wife, all while looking deserving, yet humble.

For the category immediately preceding mine, a new group of presenters emerged: a group of high-school students who won last year for a student production. I thought, "Great! High School students! I TEACH high school--what a great omen!! Come on lucky table number 7!" Then something unexpected happened. After awarding the Emmy, they announced there was another "winner" from that category (which means now that the graph of Emmy winners per category would fail the vertical-line test for functionality.) After the second "winner," they announced that the third and final nominee in that category would ALSO be receiving an Emmy! Wow! No losers! A perfect 3 for 3 in that category. Everything was crescendoing in my favor.

As they announced my show in the next category, they projected the name on the giant, huge, enormous screen for all to see. My wife had been waiting to capture it on digital film for posterity, when some Bozo stood up right as she snapped the photo. Darn the luck.

The tension was building. The students fumbled with the sealed card with the winner's name concealed. They began to read nervously. " . . . and the Emmy goes to" (I began to push my chair out from the table, swallowed hard, and "Here's to your Health." I coughed hard, and pretended to scratch my nose as I wiped what I felt was a small tear of disappointment developing in my eye. Everyone at the table looked over at me like I was an orphaned puppy with sounds of "aaaawwwwwwwwwwwww."

BUT, there was still hope! The last category had multiple winners, perhaps this was a new trend. I didn't hear a word of the acceptance speech for the show that out-awarded me, although I found my hands clapping reflexively. The spotlight soon shifted back to the high-school student presenters. I eagerly anticipate the next sound they would utter . . . . . .

"The next categor. . . . . . I heard no more. My heart sank, my shoulders dropped, I chugged the the last bit of water in my goblet. My wife put her gentle hand on my back and asked, "Are you alright?" "Yes," I lied.

Throughout the rest of the evening, I slowly got back into the celebratory mood, feigning interest in the winners in the other categories. The man next to my wife reassured me that the two other shows in my category were giant, huge, enormous markets with giant, huge, enormous budgets. It was remarkable that I could, with just a side project and a potential viewership of 40 thousand, compete with full-time professionals with markets of 4 million viewers. That really put it into perspective for me. I decided I would let the Academy's spurn spur me on to work harder on my current project, and if I ever had another opportunity, I'd go in with different expectation.

As of now, I am very grateful for the experience and the privilege of attending an exclusive function as an initiate. Being competitive and too hard on myself are character flaws that are both gifts and curses. Learning to deal with disappointment is something I don't really ever want to get good at, because that would require a lot of practice, but I think I'm slowly learning to move past them more quickly. My 7-year-old son said it best when I called him on the phone shortly after the announcement: "DAD!!! Second Place is AWESOME!!!" He's sooooo right. Thanks, buddy!

The one thing that is still troubling me, though, is not why I didn't win, but how I could have let that raw piece of expensive steak on my wife's plate go to waste. That will take a bit longer to get over.


Anonymous said...

You are a winner in my book.

kwkorpi said...


Now back to teaching Math!

Anonymous said...

That $110 steak wasn't nearly as good as the $13 hamburger I injested earlier at the hotel. And, the reason I didn't finish my $110 meal wasn't that the steak was too raw as much as I didn't want to cleanse the smoky taste of 100% Angus topped with homemade gaucamole, cheddar cheese, tomato, and sprouts on a hot-out-of-the-oven bun (not to mention the adorable little bottle of mustard or the perfectly crispy fries, thanks to hot oil) from my palate. Now, quit being so hard on yourself.

kwkorpi said...

Didn't you leave a dab of ketchup and a sprig up sprouts on your cheesburger plate earlier that day? Dang it! I HATE wasting. Now I'm stressed out.

Brenda said...

Congratulations on being a winner - not many people get to go to those events!