After my 3rd place finish in my Yahoo Fantasy Football League for the 2nd consecutive year, it reminded me of the 1st time I ever received a bronze medal…
1986 was my last year as a #CubScout, so I wanted to leave a legacy! Every year the area packs would compete in the Pinewood Derby Contest. My Dad and I bought the standard car kit, but it was gonna be the fastest in the world. Like I said, I’ve always dreamed big.
I love my Dad. He taught me how to plan, use power tools, woodworking tools, and maybe even patience. After weeks of tireless work (it was only days!), my derby car was ready to rock. I was gonna win it all.
Thankfully it was race day!
We drove to the Pinewood Derby Contest site, which was my elementary school in Mountlake Terrace. If memory serves, about 20 boys were there to race. They had set up 4-bracket, 5-car “heat” system to advance you had to win or 2nd place. My heart sunk as I saw that it wasn’t one race like my hero, Dale Earnhardt, who would race against 42 other cars on Sunday.
It was on display for everyone to see. I looked up at Dad, which he smiled back at me. After registering my car, I was given an arbitrary race number represented on the board.
Finally, it was time for my first race.
My heart was pounding so hard it threatened to leave my chest…
I picked my lane to race, and the other racers did so too. The gate dropped on the inclined race track so the pinewood derby car tore down to the finish line. I won! I frowned as I would have to keep winning, with the competition being more difficult than the previous “heat”.
After what seemed hours, it was the final heat.
I was eager to pick my lane as it was the one that kept me winning, and as competitive as I was I didn’t want someone else to ‘steal it’. My best friend, Chris Snell, myself and 2 other boys made it. Same as the other heats, the gates dropped, and our cars raced down the ramp. Chris won! Another boy was just behind, and I earned 3rd place.
I WAS PISSED!
There was a podium, which each of us were given the according medal per place: gold for 1st, silver for 2nd and bronze for 3rd. I was disgusted that I stomped off the podium in front of my Dad, marched out to our Datsun B210, sat in the passenger seat, arms akimbo, and locked the door.
[I just told this story to Charrina prior to writing it – she asked with her eyebrows raised ‘You did this in front of Dad?’]
The 5-minute drive was silent except of my piss-pour attempt at stifling my crying of angry tears. I stomped my way into the house, flung the bronze medal into my shared bedroom with my sister, and went outside with my derby car still clutched in my hand.
I sat next to our wood shelter for hours. Dad appeared around the corner with the bronze medal in his hand.
Dad: Sonny boy, why are you so mad?
Me: I didn’t win. All I got was 3rd place!
D: Yes, you did earn 3rd place. That’s great.
M: That’s bullshit! All that hard work, only to be beat in the finals. We had the best car! We should’ve won. 3rd is nothing!
D: [my Dad trying to restraint himself from being exasperated] Sonny boy, I appreciate your fire and competitive spirit. I really do. But 3rd place is still 3rd place, which is a podium finish.
Can you imagine how those 17 other boys who worked just as hard, if not harder, only to walk away from the contest with nothing?Let’s look at it this way – only 2 other boys were better than you on this day. And maybe on another day, or set of circumstances, you will be the winner. The point is, no child of mine will be a sore-loser. You congratulate the winner with a handshake, no matter what.
3rd place is something, Carlos. So please be proud [he put it back around my neck] because you learned so much with wood working, strategy and determination. However, you have some humble pie to eat. Let’s grab your coat, because we’re going to Chris’s house.
M: Tonight? Why tonight?
D: Because I said so.
He explained in the car ride to my best friend’s house what I was to do. He waited and watched in the car. I knocked on the door, Kay, his mom answered. She was surprised I was there, but I simply asked for Chris.
Chris: Hi, Los.
Me: Hi, Chris. I’m sorry I was a sore-loser this afternoon. [paused and looked over my shoulder – Dad still watching] I wanted to say congratulations, I’m glad that my best friend won today if it wasn’t me. We exchanged handshakes.
I could tell he was completely confused because he oblivious to my behavior at the Pinewood Derby.
This wouldn’t the last time I earned 3rd place in a contest – there was a photo contest at the Issaquah Pickering Place Tully’s. You guessed it, I won 3rd place. Except this time around I was super proud of my accomplishment. That … and a solid 20 years of maturity had happened.
Yahoo Fantasy Football
Finally … that brings us to today, 12/26/2018. I was first to congratulate Bryan on winning this year’s Yahoo FF. 3rd place prize money in our league is your entry fee – so I won $20. The same 20 dollars that I needed to play.
What’s my point?
My point is simple: Humble pie tastes good as long as you’re not salty.