I can't tell you too much more about that without compromising my anonymity, particularly in light of the way it turned out.
I got a letter a month or so ago that congratulated me on being named a finalist in the contest... and had I bought my ticket yet? They sure did want all the finalists to show up -- just not enough to 'comp' them.
Well, I was thrilled about all this, but knew enough to grumble a bit when I told Long Suffering Spouse. "Hmmmph," she said. "That sounds like the kind of contest you'd win. Congratulations -- pay us money. How much is this going to cost? $50?"
No, I admitted, rather sheepishly; the awards luncheon would set me back $60.
"Sixty dollars!" said Long Suffering Spouse -- thinking no doubt about our already staggering credit card debt and the bills about to come due for Younger Daughter's wedding. "Have you even paid your rent this month?" When I assured her I had, her attitude softened a bit. "Well, maybe something good will come of it," she conceded.
I paid the $60.
But determined to wring at least $60 worth of publicity from the occasion, when the sponsoring association put out a press release naming all the finalists, I linked to it on Facebook.
I achieved my objective: I got a couple of dozen comments and "likes," some from judges and political types, and I was feeling pretty good about myself again when Youngest Son called. (Youngest Son was still away at South Janesville College).
"Wow, Dad," he said, "I saw your post on Facebook and read the press release. Pretty good stuff."
I puffed up to twice my normal size. "Yes," I agreed, with all the false modesty I could muster.
"Yeah," Youngest Son continued. "There's newspaper reporters, and TV reporters, and magazine writers, and radio reporters." He paused for a minute. "And then there's you."
Pffffffffft. All the air went out of the balloon again. "Yes," I admitted sadly. "It's kind of like Sesame Street -- One of these things is not like the other; one of these things is not the same...."
But the big day arrived -- and lo and behold, I won! Half of the the finalists received the top award and I was the recipient in my category. I got a beautiful leaded glass trophy, etched with my name and the award and everything.
That handsome award (and paying the $2.25 fare) got me admitted to the subway that evening.
But, still, I was pretty geeked about it -- and I wanted to make certain that I'd gotten the full $60-worth out of the occasion. Although there were a number of photos taken at the luncheon, none of them made it online anywhere where I could
It was pretty darned impressive stuff. Nearly all of the other finalists had received major awards from other journalistic or governmental watchdog groups; one was even a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in its category. I spent a good chunk of Saturday -- when not watching Youngest Son's conference baseball tournament online -- putting a post together about it all. I put that up, finally, with links to all the finalists' different awards and everything, and then linked my post to Facebook for good measure.
Sure enough -- more "likes," more complimentary comments, and I was again feeling pretty good about myself.
Then, yesterday afternoon, as much of the family that was in town gathered at our house for Mother's Day. (More about this, perhaps, later in the week.)
At one point Long Suffering Spouse asked Oldest Son if he'd seen my trophy. (I had proposed blocking the front door with it, but Long Suffering Spouse vetoed that idea. Still, she gave it a pretty prominent place in the living room and it would have been difficult to miss.) Oldest Son allowed that he had. He'd even seen the post I put up about it, he said. "I tried to read it, too," he said, "but it was so boring I couldn't finish. I tried again and gave up. I showed it to Abby; she works with lawyers, maybe she could get through it, I thought, but she couldn't read it either."
Oldest Son's wife, Abby, sitting right next to her husband, chose at that moment to be intently engaged in conversation with someone -- anyone -- else.
It didn't matter.