to be a good loser
by Mad Dog
fascinated by losers. We cheer
for the underdog, pull for the downtrodden, and love watching
“America’s Biggest Chowderheads Doing Incredibly Stupid Things
That Should Embarrass Them No End When It Appears on TV But
Face it, no one wants to be a loser. Rare is the person who,
when asked to list their life’s goals, puts down: “Get married,
get a good job, have wonderful children, then screw it all up and
spend the rest of my days being miserable.” At least not since
Prozac became the One-A-Day pill of choice.
someone has to lose. In the grand scheme of the universe, and
contrary to what Ed McMahon and Dick Clark would like you to
believe, we can’t all be winners. For every winner there must be a
loser. It’s like yin and yang, positive and negative, action and
reaction, Bush and Gore. Sorry, the last one’s a bad example—by
the time all was said and done they did a good job of proving
they’re both losers.
We like winners. We give
them awards, stay up late to watch them on The Tonight Show, then
wake up early to see them ride down the street as the grand marshal
of a parade, proving that winning has nothing to do with
self-respect. Richard Hatch became an instant celebrity when he won
on Survivor. Hillary Rodham Clinton turned into a big winner
after her husband became president, she became senator, and book
publishers lost their minds, starting a bidding war for her memoirs
which topped out at over $7 million. In case you’re wondering,
that’s about $23,333.33 per page, $80 per word, and more interns
than you can shake a, well, a stick at.
Nobody likes a
sore loser. It’s much better to smile than to pout, throw a temper
tantrum or, if you’re a full-blooded American, go to court.
the truth is, we’re more fascinated by losers. We cheer for the
underdog, pull for the downtrodden, and love watching “America’s
Biggest Chowderheads Doing Incredibly Stupid Things That Should
Embarrass Them No End When It Appears on TV But Doesn’t.” We
even go so far as to bet on losers to win, though that may be more a
matter of greed since the odds are so much better. Plus if the dark
horse actually does win then suddenly there are two losers who for
once turned out to be winners.
So it’s not surprising
that there’s a popular website called Failure
Magazine which is devoted to losers like the Susan B.
Anthony dollar, New Coke, and anyone who bought a lifetime
membership to the Louie Anderson 24-Hr Fitness Center. There’s
also Bride Again, a magazine devoted to losers. I mean,
people getting married for the second time. It will probably be very
successful since the publisher was smart enough not to use their
first choice of a name: Used Merchandise. The magazine covers
such useful topics as whether it’s okay to invite the exes, if
it’s cool to say “I’ll give it a good shot” for your vows,
and whether you can save on photographer’s fees by reusing your
first wedding pictures, cutting and pasting the new groom’s head
onto the old groom’s body.
Winning gracefully is easy.
Losing gracefully isn’t. After all, nobody likes a sore loser.
It’s much better to smile than to pout, throw a temper tantrum or,
if you’re a full-blooded American, go to court. You didn’t see
Susan Lucci do any of these things the 1,278 times she was nominated
for an Emmy and didn’t win, now did you? This doesn’t mean she
didn’t do it, but we didn’t see it, and as Cher’s plastic
surgeon likes to point out, it’s appearances that count.
at one time or another we all have to lose, here are a few simple
guidelines which hopefully will make you a better loser:
yourself that no one loses all the time. Even Kevin Costner made
some good movies early on in his career.
Always smile and congratulate the winner, telling him or her how
happy you are for them. Watch the Academy Awards if you want to see
how the pros do it. Hopefully you can be more sincere and there
won’t be a TV audience of lip readers who recognize that the word
you just muttered begins with ‘f’, ends in ‘uck’, and is
shorter than firetruck.
-- Memorize as many
appropriate platitudes as possible, like “May the best man win”,
“Winning isn’t everything”, and “It’s not whether you win
or lose, but how you play the game.” Try to avoid saying things
like “Cheaters never prosper”, “The good die young,” or any
word that begins with ‘f’, ends in ‘uck’, and is shorter
-- Remember that
while a loser trips on the sidewalk, breaks his leg, and hobbles
around in a cast, a winner does the exact same thing. Sure the
winner ends up with a few million bucks in the bank because he sued
the city for not maintaining the sidewalk, the store it’s in front
of for not sweeping the dust off, and God for creating the dust in
the first place, but don’t forget that money is the root of all
evil. Then when you quit crying, call your lawyer. The statute of
limitations may not have expired.
-- Remind yourself
that no one loses all the time. Even Kevin Costner made some good
movies early on in his career.
-- Know when to give
up. Don’t be like the presidential candidates, Pauley Shore, and
Kellogg Co., which sued Exxon saying their “Tiger in a tank”
infringes on Tony the Tiger, this despite the fact that both have
been around for thirty years. Remember, Kenny Rogers once sang,
“You have to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em.”
Of course he didn’t take his own advice and hasn’t had a hit
song in years. See what I mean?
©2000 Mad Dog
Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
These columns appear in better newspapers across the country. Read
them as your concession speech.