On most days I turn on my computer to find that I’ve been invited to join a contest or have supposedly won one I never entered. Let me be clear: I never win contests* and seldom enter them. I’m a great finder of things, particularly in the homes of people on vacation.
My streak of bad luck at winning contests started with, surprisingly, a win. It happened in the fourth grade when my entire grade school was herded into the all-purpose room for the annual end-of-the-year assembly. In our midst was Captain Satellite, a local celebrity who showed cartoons and Three Stooges movies on local TV after school. For an hour he ran cartoons on a defective movie projector and told jokes.
Coincidentally, Ruthie Cardinas was seated next to me. Ruthie was my neighbor, but she was in the second grade and I didn’t want to be humiliated by socializing with her, at school anyway. Ruthie was too small to see over the person seated in front of her and she squirmed and whined throughout most of the assembly. I was sitting on the aisle and had a mostly unobstructed view, but shortly before the assembly ended I switched seats with her to shut her up.
Shortly after making the swap, Captain Satellite reached for the mike and made an announcement that silenced the chattering mob. He said, “Somebody in this auditorium is going home with a shiny Schwinn bicycle today.”
Scores of mouths dropped open.
“Taking home a new Schwinn today is…” He paused for dramatic effect, as dramatic
as a middle-aged man in a satellite costume can look, “…the boy or girl with a gold star taped to the underside of their chair.”
Kids reached down between their legs and fingered the underside of their chairs. To my surprise, and horror, Ruthie held up the gold star and began shouting, “I won! I won!”
The gold star had been taped beneath the chair I’d sat on throughout the assembly and had given up only minutes earlier.
“Like hell you won!” I said, grabbing the star from her hand and bumping her off her (my) seat. “I won!” I said as she lay sprawled in the aisle. “I only let you sit in my seat for a little while because you couldn’t see.”
I doubt it will come as a surprise to anyone that the principal sided with Ruthie. She got to take home the Schwinn. She rode it past my driveway every day that summer while I pretended to blow her up with my laser vision.
Now you know why I don’t enter contests.
*In January my perfect fifty year losing streak came to an end when I won a contest sponsored by Heather Arundel at My Demon Spirits. Check out her wonderful blog (here). What's the best thing you ever won?