November 4, 2008

We Can't All Be Winners: An Ode to the 'Lovable Loser'

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On Friday, I had a pretty spectacular night, I’m not going to lie. My costume was well planned and well executed (I was a member of the S.W.A.T team), my house threw a ridiculous party and no one got hurt. Halloween was shaping up to be epic — that is until I lost my wallet. Don’t ask me how it happened, especially since, I know, the party was at my own house. But somewhere between my bedroom and an ill-fated trip to College Town Pizza, my beloved wallet escaped me. I should preface this with two points. First, I do not own many possessions, so although to some of you the loss of a wallet may not seem like a big deal, to me, it was nothing short of tragedy. Second, there will eventually be a tie between my wallet woes and the wonderfully wide world of sports. I see those raised eyebrows, Ben Eisen, but believe me, there is.
I spent the better part of my Saturday afternoon traipsing around C-Town, making inquiries at every single disreputable eatery on College Avenue and Dryden Avenue. The responses I got varied from polite, to confused (the lady at Little Thai House apparently doesn’t speak much English), to disrespectful (a guy behind the counter at CTP asked me if my lost wallet was “hot”). I am still unsure as to whether he was hitting on me, or on my Coach wallet, but I am doubtful that his line works on anything, animate or otherwise. The net result of my frantic search was zero, a result that was not surprising, but stung nonetheless. Thrown into a state of depression, I started to reflect on other pathetic aspects of my life, using my loss as a segway into a general, internal list of other reasons why I am a “loser.” Well, for one thing, I never get enough sleep, and this chronic fatigue often results in a very, very ineffectual class participation grade. That’s right, I sleep through all of my classes, no matter how interesting they are. (To all my professors, I am deeply sorry. It’s not you, it’s me. Clearly.) I also have a terrible tendency to lose things that have special meaning to me. I eat greasy food late at night, send out of control emails at three in the morning and find myself far more hilarious than do the majority of the people around me. Perhaps, the ultimate litmus test of my loserness is this column, which has been called, in no particular order: manic, over-caffeinated, wandering, pointless and frantic. I have decided not to take any of this generously given advice to heart, however. Sorry, friends.
Despite my numerous faults, I feel sincerely that I am what some might classify a “lovable loser.” Being a lovable loser is not exactly the same as being a winner, of course, but it is as close as you can get. Lovable losers like to throw around terms like “rebuilding year,” so as to give their losses meaning. That’s nice. They may lose, possibly all of the time, but they always retain their dignity and poise. They bring brownies to halftime and juice boxes to the post-game huddle. They are good sports and tend to look at adversity as an important step on the stairway to greatness, not a stumbling block that causes you to fall flat on your face in front of your entire seminar class.
And so, in honor of, well, me, I have decided to pay tribute to some lovable losers that have been in the news recently. In the sporting world, unfortunately, there is no grey area in terms of achievement. There are wins, there are losses, and once in a great while there are ties (which I am choosing to ignore because they’re annoying and dilute my point.) So here’s to you, you “LL’s.” You came close. Unfortunately, not close enough.
Topping my list are the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays were recently defeated in the World Series by the Philadelphia Phillies. In the interest of journalistic integrity, I must admit that I am a huge Phillies fan. I was ecstatic to see my team win, and more than a little surprised to boot. I also would like to disclose the fact that I have a very interesting scar on my big toe, a souvenir from the summer I was stung by an honest-to-God ray along the California coast. But this doesn’t mean I don’t respect the Rays — far from it. I’m sending you good thoughts even now. You’re young, you’re hot and your 23-year-old stars name is one letter away from Eva Longoria’s. The stars seem aligned in your favor. Keep chugging along, boys. I’m sure you’ll make it back to the Fall Classic. And when you do, I’ll be cheering for you … probably … unless I like the other team more.
Losing gracefully has never been the particular shtick of the Dallas Cowboys, but I think their performance against the New York Giants on Sunday night football may have taught them a lesson in humility. I hope everyone who reads this column goes out immediately after and buys a get-well card for quarterback Tony Romo’s injured pinky. (That must really hurt — better FedEx him some air kisses as well.) The 35-14 pounding they suffered at the hands of the Giants may have finally knocked that insufferable cockiness out of Terrell Owens’s artificially bleached smile. Actually, it probably had no impact, but at least fans didn’t have to suffer through any more of T.O.’s moronic touchdown celebrations, complete with mandatory, league-issued reprimands. Now that I think about it, the Cowboys aren’t so much lovable as they are losers. Ah, well.
Yesterday afternoon during my scenic walk down to the Sun’s office, I thought about several different examples of lovable losers whom I could end my column with. Cornell’s men’s soccer team? Too obvious. Cornell’s football team? I’d prefer not to get fired. Suddenly the choice was clear. Now, I know this may seem a bit presumptuous, and possibly redundant given the amount of attention these two soon-to-be losers have been receiving lately, but I just can’t help myself — sorry J.M. and S.P., tag, you’re it. Life is full of competitions. Sometimes they matter a lot, and sometimes they don’t matter at all. It can be hard to keep the two categories in perspective, especially during the stressful time period otherwise known as “college.” But today, there is a competition going on that is of the utmost importance. It is the Super Bowl, the World Series, the NBA Finals, the World Cup, all rolled into one. No, I am not being facetious or hyperbolic. For once, I am dead serious. Please cast your ballot today. We can’t all be winners, but for once, you have the chance to determine which team wins the title, takes home the trophy and drinks from that championship cup. Choose carefully, choose wisely. Peter Finocchiaro knows what I’m talking about. Bennett-Smith out. Obama ’08.