Friday, July 03, 2009

Second place

I allow myself only a moment or two of sitting stunned, and then pull myself out of my seat and start clapping in the direction of the Ambassadors’ section of the crowd. They’ve earned the ovation.

It’s heartening to look to my left and see that every single man and woman in the Vocal Majority section is doing the same. The loss hurts, but the Ambassadors deserve their moment in the spotlight. And I’m proud, very proud of my VM brothers and their families that they can put aside their own disappointment and cheer on their “brothers in harmony.”

“And in First Place, with a record 2926 points, an average score of 97.5” – wow, really? That’s amazing!St. Charles, Missouri, the Ambassadors of Harmony!

The crowd is going bonkers, and we in the VM are cheering as loudly as any of them. We’ll lick our wounds later, but this is the Ambassador’s time. Hey, I’ll bet most of us are in the “denial” stage of grieving anyway. It certainly doesn’t seem real to me yet.

Okay, yes it does. As I walk out of the arena with my family and we go to find the end of the line for the bus – and having 7000 people empty from the arena at once means we’re in for a wait – I feel like the wind has been knocked out of me.

So many thoughts are bouncing through my brain. What do we do now? Wait, this means we’ll be competing again next year, doesn’t it? Hang on, this can’t be right… The VM doesn’t lose. That’s been engrained in me from my earliest contact with the chorus. It’s even enshrined in the fact that a new member is a rookie until he gets his first gold medal.

Oh, great, I realize. I’m still a rookie!

I’m trying to be upbeat as we wait for the bus. Becky can tell my smile is pretty forced.

Hey, I tell myself – you just came in second in an international competition that most guys in this hobby never dream of competing in. There are hundreds of choruses who would be thrilled to compete, much less win a medal.

All of that is true, and intellectually I get it. But that’s any other chorus. I’m in the Vocal Majority. We don’t lose.

It doesn’t help that I keep remembering a slogan Nike put on billboards during the Atlanta Olympics a few years back: “You don’t win silver. You lose gold.”

The long line for the bus doesn’t seem to move much for the first half hour. There’s a guy from the Ambassadors of Harmony in line about fifteen feet ahead of me. He seems to be aware of my presence, too, and is graciously keeping his celebrating low-key. Good guys, those Ambassadors.

Finally the line starts to move, and we eventually get on a bus back to the Hilton. Time to gather with my VM brothers and figure out where we go from here.

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