By LYNDON ZAITZ
Everyone likes to win—an award, a ribbon, a title, a contest. The recent Academy Awards made me think about the awards and honors I have won. It was my first award that was like winning an Oscar.
I had won a contest or two before my big win on May 19, 1976. In second grade at Keizer Elementary School I won a coupon for a free 19¢ burger at Bob’s Burgers for having my poster design chosen as the winner. I can’t even remember what the topic was—don’t care; I won.
By 1976 I had traded in my academic pursuits for the glory of the stage. By the middle of my junior year I was a part of the drama department; I was no drama geek, per se, I had other interests as well.
By the time my high school career was ending I had trod the boards as Man in Subway in Bells Are Ringing, the lead in You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, and as Lt. Frank Burns in our high school production of M*A*S*H—it’s hard to picture a school approving it these days. I was the all-singing, all-dancing lifeguard in No, No Nanette.
At the end of the school the drama class/department held an irreverent awards program, set up in such a way that every graduating senior got some sort of an award. At the awards dinner in my senior year, my classmates won this award and that award, even my younger brother won a best actor award for a role that mirrored Woody Allen.
All the awards had been presented. Except one. Each year the teacher, Al Osburg, gave out The Ozzie, an award he personally gave out. It is still hard to discern what the criteria was for the award. Mr. Osburg gave a few remarks and said the winner of The Ozzie is…me.
I rose and walked to the dais to thunderous applause from the 40 or so people in attendance. The award was basically a trophy with a rendition of the sad/happy masks on top where the bowler or the batter would normally be.
I was happy to win. I was emotional; I cried and I thanked the people in the room for giving me a home in high school.
Winning never gets old. I didn’t win anything again until years later. I was honored with awards from some entries into a state-wide contest by the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association.
I, like everyone else, likes to win things. When I was a Toastmaster with a Salem club, 10 of my required speeches won nine blue ribbons. Just as the theatre department was a welcome fit in my final high school days, Toastmasters filled a need and did help with public speaking. Though I haven’t been a member of Toastmasters for a number of years, I do use what I acquired in that organization every day—that was my lasting award.
I don’t win every time. There are honors or awards over many years I wish I had received. But like they say at the Oscars and other awards: it nice just to be considered. A segment of the public decries the awarding of green ribbons so everyone feels like a winner and no one is loser.
Well, there are losers. Losing doesn’t create losers, it makes one try harder, it keeps one humble. Instead of moping, just think, “I didn’t win. This time.”