I was selected to compete in the Jacksonville round of the recent Florida’s Funniest Comedian competition. Rosalind McCoy, Danny Johnson, and Tommy Torres were announced as the three winners — in no particular order, we were told. However, I’ve listed them in what I think is the appropriate order: alphabetical, based on the third letter of their last names. (I was going to do the second letter, but “Johnson” and “Torres” are both “o,” and that confused me.)
But I think I won. In fact, I think that all 12 of the contestants won. That’s because I often hear people say that winning is just playing the game, with all your heart. Winning is just going out there and trying. Well, we tried.
I’m celebrating my victory, and I promise not to “Aw, shucks, don’t mention it” your congratulations and pats on my back, even virtual pats on my back through Facebook or my blog, or, better, your “monetized” congratulations in the form of buying my new book here.
I wasn’t raised to view winning in this way, however. My father used to tell me, before any sort of competition, “Come home with your shield, or on it.”
I haven’t been home in 20 years.
That’s not because I haven’t won anything. It’s because I don’t have a shield. I assume my father must, at some point, have given me a shield, and that I must have lost it somewhere. I don’t want to appear irresponsible.
If I had the shield, I’d probably show up “with it,” because “on it” implies that I’d somehow be riding the shield as if it were a horse or Hovercraft, and I don’t know how to drive a shield.
A friend of mine explained that what my father said was a metaphor. It’s something Spartan women told their husbands and sons before battle, and now it’s the slogan for U.S. Green Beret Task Force Spartan (thank God, because otherwise I’d have to think of my father as a woman). “On your shield” meant that the soldier would be dead. The metaphor is another way of saying “Do or die,” or, more accurately, “Win or die,” or “Win or don’t bother coming home.” (Given that “home” meant “Sparta,” which no longer exists, I don’t think this metaphor applies to Americans.)
My friend (a word some people use to describe their psychiatrists) said I have a problem with metaphor. And with reality. That means I’m totally screwed. I can’t “retreat into fantasy,” because I might end up advancing into reality.
What I do know is that all the other contestants and I won Florida’s Funniest the other night.
Buy my new book here.