Musings On Losing
I work in the industry of losing. It happens in bulk 8 to 12 times a day. No matter the outcome, there’s only one winner in a pool of several. The loser count becomes exponential when you consider the team of people attached to each contender. Of course you have the usual suspects: the jockey, trainer and owner. But the trainer also has a staff. Assistants, groomers, riders, poop shovelers, et cetera. It’s very possible that when a horse loses a race, 20-30 people lose with them. In a field of 10, there are 180-270 losers. In theory, today will have 1,620-2,430 losses. But that doesn’t account for the most important people of all: the gamblers. Welp. Let me rephrase. In my line of work, I bear witness to hundreds of thousands of losses every single day. But they don’t give up. They come back over and over again, hoping for a different result. And when that happens, the bliss is unadulterated. Just refer to Rich Strike’s Kentucky Derby win or any time Jalon Samuel pulls off an upset. When the loser wins, we’re reminded of why we bear through all the loss to begin with. All the people that lose don’t consider themselves a loser. They simply just try and live to try another day.
I started playing No More Heroes 3 yesterday. An afterthought Christmas gift that I totally forgot was even coming. Because I am what many would consider to be a “Jamoke” or “Mid”, I gravitated straight to the easiest mode, a setting I can’t change once the game starts. After 3 hours of playing, I realized a horrible truth: my character isn’t getting hurt at all. It turns out that playing on easy mode renders the player completely invincible. As appealing as that sounds, it simply isn’t. I may prefer to have the least amount of resistance, but no resistance just feels masturbatory and wrong. So I swallowed my pride, threw the 3 hours out the window and started over again. And then I died. Over and over and over and over again. I grunted, I swore, I annoyed my wife, but most of all, I felt like I was actually accomplishing something. Also, the kill screen displaying in bold letters, “You Dead” is the best thing I’ve seen since Scarface’s “You Fucked Up”. I didn’t mind losing because the game reminded me of how ridiculous everything is. Losing all the time doesn’t make you a loser. You could just be a scrappy novice with too much time on your hands.
At halftime, Brook Lopez already had 10 points. In the last 5 games, he was averaging 20.2 points. I only needed 15 out of him. As the kids would say, I was “sitting pretty”. And then he proceeded to do nothing. Nothing at all. For two whole quarters. Giannis was an absolute ball hog, reminding me of why I turned my back on the NBA 20 years ago. Nobody else even stood a chance. In overtime, Brook was sitting at 14 points and he threw nothing but bricks. Shots he should have made just didn’t find the bucket. He didn’t make that one measly point and it attributed to his actual team losing. That was that. These losses are nothing but typical. The quarterback that just needs to throw one more pass opts to kneel. The batter gets subbed out for the lefty in the 5th. The Detroit Lions exist. Losing is in my blood, but I still win often enough to overshadow it. I win all the damn time. It’s great. I enjoy it. But winning doesn’t make a good story. Losing does.
I haven’t written in over 3 months. Before that, I was still writing sparingly. I was keeping score on days that I wrote vs days that I didn’t and posting it at the bottom of each piece. I’ve been carrying a losing record for most of the year. I’m not going to start hiding my record. I’m not going to start at 0-0 and claim that this time things will be different, new year with a new me or some other pseudo-inspirational thing that people like to say this time of year and forget 19 days later when they had a bad day and know that tomorrow won’t be any better and nothing matters. I’m not about doing that. I’m going to wear my losing record as a badge of honor. I’m going to loudly proclaim, “Hey! There were 243 days that I didn’t write! But there was also 55 days when I did! I want a sandwich!”
I met a kid named Deacon the other day. I resisted making a Steely Dan reference. He’s fucking 8. He most likely wouldn’t get the reference and would see me as a loser. And if he did actually get the reference, his peers would think he’s a loser. Nobody wins. Nobody gets a name when they lose. They call Alabama the Crimson Tide. Call me