Awards season has recently passed: The Academy Awards, the Golden Globes, The Grammys. Although I occasionally watch the ‘recaps’ the next day to see the fashions, I generally avoid the long and, I think, boring shows themselves. This year I actually watched the opening of the Oscars just to see what Chris Rock would do with the race issue, currently at the forefront of the U.S. election campaigns. (Although this issue fights for equal time with Donald Trump’s reality/horror show, “Watch me! I’m WINNING!”)
I thought Rock’s comments were brilliant — to the point yet still funny enough that the privileged audience, delivered to the event in chauffeured limos and decked out in their designer gowns, tuxes and borrowed jewels, attempted to put smiles on their faces and appear sympathetic and ‘with’ the people — that would be the struggling people living in ghettos and dealing with tainted water. I’ll just bet this audience didn’t have a second thought about drinking the bottled water they were offered. Although, since they were probably drinking expensive champagne for the most part, perhaps the issue just didn’t seem on point.
Since I didn’t watch much of the show, I was spared the cringe-worthy acceptance speeches wherein the recipients thanked everyone from their pet dogs or gerbils to their third cousin, once removed, for their success. I confess that I have waited, other years, to hear an actor thank their ‘perfect’ hound, and then add:”Well, there was that ONE time Cedric didn’t catch the frisbee and attacked the neighbor’s cat…but still, he’s an inspiration to me.”
I understand that these evenings and the statues they win are important to the individuals singled out for praise. Why, in the next month, I will receive an award myself. It is an award from my alma mater, a university where I have done volunteer work for years. I do appreciate the recognition, but I have to admit, I am somewhat conflicted, the way I imagine the winners of ‘Lifetime Achievement’ prizes must feel. It seems more like an end, a dirge for things already accomplished but not likely to be repeated in the future since you’re old, not quite but soon-to-be useless, or a has-been. Or is it just me? I half expect a large hook to appear to usher me off the stage– a signal that my 15 seconds of glory has vanished. But perhaps I’m being too sensitive and overly critical. It’s a lovely gesture and I don’t want to appear ungrateful.
In the academic world, awards, scholarships, grants are given out regularly. And I have to admit, it is reassuring, if you’re a student studying under a prof with his or her walls covered with awards, to see that you’re in good hands and that his or her success might well foretell yours. The plaques and honors on the wall are a gauge of your potential accomplishments during your career.
If only mothers were rewarded in this way.
But, hey, we are! Every time our children give us mushy Mother’s Day cards with touching handwritten notes, every time we are presented with macaroni bracelets or Christmas tree ornaments, every time we are given flowers ‘just because’ or taken out for dinner or invited along with them on an adventure…we are rewarded with the best, the most sincere awards around. And those are the ones worth cherishing. The other things are nice too, but I wouldn’t trade those honors for the personal ones.
Don’t get me wrong — I’d still love to win the Mark Twain or Leacock award for humor writing, but there’s still time. No hook for me yet!