Now, here’s a war I can get behind.
Emerging from the ATM yesterday – none the richer, since some vengeful deity has decreed against my having any money this week – I encountered one of the ubiquitous United Homeless Organization tables. Usually the pitch is some variation of “Give just a penny to help feed the homeless.”
Yesterday the table was womanned by a lady calling out very clearly, “Give a penny, help defeat the homeless.”
If I’d had a penny to spare, I might have done it. I would very much like to defeat the homeless. Actually, I would like to defeat anyone. I would love to experience the thrill of victory. To gloat, to crow, to lord it over my vanquished enemy. The homeless? Bring ’em on.
Like some intellectual Al Bundy, my victories came early in life. Leading my eighth-grade class to victory over Russell’s class in the big current-events trivia match. Receiving some academic awards. Getting into Harvard (much harder than getting through it, by the way). Getting the girl I was madly in love with to marry me.
But where are the victories now? Whenever do mature adults get to win things? These days I can’t even win an argument.
Sure, you can call a radio station and win passes to a concert, or buy a lottery ticket that returns a few bucks. But that’s winning against chance. Where’s the joy of defeating a real foe? Where?
I guess it’s like the great composer Charles Ives said: “Prizes are for children.” Except if you get famous. Then you can accept your Oscar or Emmy or Grammy, graciously thank all the people who got you where you are, and go home and gloat.
But not us regular people. So I give up. You win. Satisfied?