Tuesday, December 24, 2013

7th Place is No Place

A NASCAR racer by the name of Junior Johnson one said "second place is no place." Being a 'good old boy', Junior was at least bright enough to notice how the winners circle only had room enough for one, and he was determined to be that one, every chance he got.  I'm fairly certain old Junior also noticed that all the cameras, girls, and most of the money were also being distributed in the winner's circle, and when he finished second, not a whole lot of attention was being payed to him.  Patton once said that 'Americans love a winner', and he was right. Who wants to be Miss Congenitally? To be told well honey at least you have a great personality.  The second most beautiful women in the world, who remembers her except maybe her parents and the slug lucky enough to be banging her, and he is probably only doing that as some sort of consolation fuck.

If second place is no place then try to extrapolate that out a few more places. Does anyone, other than fans of the team involved, or punters who lost money on them remember who LOST the last World Series, World Cup, Super Bowl, or Euros? A limited few, and the only reason the number is as high as it is, is because some of those losers are entire countries.  Few of us neutrals remember the loser, the second place bastard who on his or her day just 'wasn't quite good enough.'  Third place? Hell boy, they only give prizes for 3rd place in the Olympics (which I am sure M. Johnson would find highly suspect), and horse racing.  The horse doesn't know any better, and the poor 3rd place Olympic bastard has to stand on a podium, and listen to the winner's national anthem blare out that he is the second loser of the lot. I am sure the bronze and silver medals are nice, and make a good story to tell, but they don't call it the 'ecstasy of the gold' for no reason.

Fourth place is the superfecta in horse racing, a bet that only the truly idiotic, or optimistic (which are actually the same thing) even bother trying to hit. Once again, the horse doesn't know any better, he or she is just trying to get that screaming, whip happy midget off their back, and go back to the barn and eat oats, or whatever horses do in their spare time. Fifth, or sixth places? Really do you remember the sixth fellow to climb Mount Everest (it was Hans Rudolph von Gunten, and he did in May 24th, 1956), and I am quite sure he was cursing Edmund Hilary's name the entire trip.  Yes fifth and sixth are some sad sacks, some lonely men or women who probably really shouldn't have been in the competition to begin with. What sort of excuse do you provide your fans, your trainer, or even yourself for finishing 6th? Depending on the size of the field, in theory 6th isn't that bad, but still who is going to record your feat for the sake of posterity. You aren't even going to be the answer to a trivia question, because no one would get the answer right.

This leads us to 7th place. 7th place in horse racing will usually give you a clear view of the field, from the back. Not a whole lot going for you if you finish 7th. I suppose a lot of Olympic events finals consist of eight places, so you aren't dead last, but you are a lot closer to last than you are ever going to get to first.  I was recently 'semi' involved in a competition in which it was clear that I was going to finish 7th. I was unsure of the size of the field, but even before I had a chance to 'ride the lists', I knew that places 1 through 6 were already predetermined.  Seventh place was and is not appealing to me, and I chose 'not to run' (a la Jerry Seinfeld). The candle (as the saying goes) was just not quite worth the game. I do not (as a general rule) like to lose, in anything. Play me in checkers, video golf, trivia, or cards, and you will find me a stubborn competitor. I may not be the best at anything, but I certainly am not 7th best. One could say that just because you know you aren't going to finish in the top six is no reason to not compete. Do it for the love of the game, and all that other bullshit that coaches spout out to teams they know are full of losers, mommy's boys, and myopic asthmatics. Truth be told, I have engaged in many a contest where I knew I was going to have my ass handed to me on a plate, with a side of 'I told you so' sauce.  Besides, there was no love involved in this game.

This game's outcome was long since determined before my invitation 'to play' was received. I don't like to lose, and I like pre-determined outcomes even less. The game continues apace without me, and I am no longer interested in who finishes 7th place in it.  I am still uncertain of the size of the field, but it seems to be a crowded one. More power to the people who are playing it for the sake of saying they finished the course (as it were), but for me, and the few shreds of dignity I have remaining, I will respectfully return my ticket, take my toys, and go the fuck home.  After all some of the finest competitors in the world have had enough sense to understand that sometimes it is the race NOT run that defines them just as much, if not more, as the races they ran.  God Jul.

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