Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Honorable Mentions

Every year, about this time, I seem to receive one or two accolades from editors who have selected some of my published work, or who want to hold it up as exemplary or for accommodation.  I always cherish these accolades, and I make it a point to tell my wife about them so she will know that I have at least one redeeming quality.  I usually show her the editor's letter or my name printed in the list of "award winners" so she will know that I am not lying (like I lie about my weight and my dental checkups). 

Last week I received one of these niceties: an "honorable mention" selection for one of my poems.  (Thank you, Nancy & Donna for the recognition.)  In this case, the editors had selected my sonnet "Full Moon" as one of the top ten poems they had published in 2011 (from among some 300 total).  Okay, and thank you, again.

When I told my wife about this she said, "Oh, they gave you an award, huh?"

"Yeah," I said.  "An honorable mention."

"Sounds about right for you," she said. 

Indeed, I've always been an honorable guy.  That's about all I can say for myself and my full 40-year body of literary work.  Years ago, I once received more 2nd place track and field ribbons than the coach had seen in his lifetime.  He told me, "You need to remember that your favorite color is blue."  But I've never been a first-place guy.  There's always someone better, and I know it.  In fact, if I was winning, I would usually pull back at the finish line so someone else could step in for the win.  It has always been difficult for me to pound someone into submission and claim the top prize.  Even as a teenager, I can remember throwing a few contests that I would have won easily (in basketball, academics, writing) . . . I just preferred a lower place.  This was the one "flaw" that used to drive my coaches crazy.  "Why can't you just pound the pulp out of that little prick?" they'd say.  "I can't bring myself to do it," I would tell them.  "I have a conscience."

Still, I can accept an honorable mention.  God knows I wouldn't know what to do with a large cash prize, or a trophy, or a first-place award.  I would feel the weight of it, and for the rest of my life I would be trying to live up to the hype.

"You should frame that honorable mention letter," my wife told me.

"No . . . " I said.  "I'll just keep trying to write something better.  I wouldn't want to jinx my losing streak."   

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