Winner, winner chicken dinner. In the same way con men bark out hope to get you to part with your hard earned cash, contests have the ability to turn sane people into wild eyed hopeful little children just itching to give up a piece of yourself to become a winner. It is that ever present beast on your shoulder urging that you can win something, anything, and everything. It’s fun to dream of being in first place, getting rich, winning a trip, car or even a chicken dinner. But beware, contesting is very habit forming.
Don’t get me wrong I, as I suspect most of us do, fall into the contest trap. It sets your heart to race, your eyes get bigger and you get all giddy. If the prize is big enough or is just what you desire sometimes little beads of sweat can form just above your upper lip as you wait for the results to be announced or the game to end. Come on now, we have all been there.
In school during gym when the weather was warm we sometimes were ushered outside and ran to the football field some 5 or 6 blocks away. Well run when you are in high school is sometimes a synonym for trot or saunter. This one afternoon the exercise period was somehow connected to a football. Yes with girls! I for the life of me cannot remember what we did during that 40 minutes, but I do remember the contest part of the class. At the end we were split into three groups. One person from each group kicked the football and the group that had the farthest kick got to head back to school first.
Now upon first glance of that statement you might say, “Big deal.” But take yourself back to some contest in your past that still sticks in your craw. I say that because I know….. Well here is what happened.
I found myself third in line as the designated kicker for my third of the class. While a great friend of mine, let’s call her Goosey Margaret, was the kicker for the second third. I don’t even remember who the first kicker was. Sorry whoever you were! I may not have much of a sport winning physique, but I have leg muscles that have been known to kick 100 year old tree stumps out of the ground to become landscape pieces in my yard. So when I hauled off and kicked that football you can be assured it knew who was boss. It flew down field like a pea flicked by the Jolly Green Giant. Upon landing it threw up a puff of dust off of my field of dreams. I knew I had kicked my little brown piggy farthest. With heart racing, eyes big a saucers I waited for the P.E. teacher to announce me as the winner. My third of the class girls were primed and ready to be the first bunch to head back those 5 or 6 blocks. When “it” happened. The teacher said my kick was second farthest. What? Second? Did she not see the dust? My little piggy football was yards, okay feet if not mere inches farther than Goosey’s piggy football. Yes I was crest fallen, but that one contest, that one kick, that one second place brought forth into this crazy world yet another contestant. Me.
However I am very pick and choose about the contest rings I throw my hat into. I live in Nevada so I do occasionally drop a few quarters into the slots to keep the economy strong. But I don’t enter the sweepstakes that tout a guy will come to my door with flowers, balloons and a huge check. The only guy I want bringing flowers to me I married years and years ago.
I occasionally enter writing contests. I have read stories of writers who have won many contests and they more often than not say it is no big thing. It is just another award that clutters up their desk. I don’t believe that for a second. If it is just another award, why did they enter the contest?
I am, in the writing world, a baby writer. Haven’t been out there long. As a matter of fact this is my 99th column! I enter a contest each week with this column. And I love it. I am judged each time I hit send and my words fly until they land in front of readers like you. My wish is that you win a little laughter, put an award of remembrance of your life events on your shelf with my stories, and get all giddy with anticipation of what is to come next. Most important know that as you read and I write it is a win-win for us, you and I. Thanks! See you next week.
Trina Machacek lives in Eureka. Her book ITY BITS can be found on Kindle. Share your thoughts and opinions with her at firstname.lastname@example.org.