My Voices Article for July/August (stevieslaw)

“The Only Thing—“. The LAGuide to the Art of Winning.
Here at Stevieslaw, we have all signed up for a gentle yoga program at the local YMCA. Once a week we try to lose ourselves in the formal stretches and poses—sunrise salutation, warrior one and warrior two, and others whose names I haven’t mastered yet. I am ashamed to say I haven’t mastered the ability to lose myself—to float egoless—either. I find that each week I spend a good part of the lesson time searching the group to see if I am winning. Yes, it’s gentle yoga and yes, many of the people who attend—often including me—need chairs to help them stand on one leg, but I still somehow view my yoga class as a competition. I want to win.
I share that desire with nearly all Americans. They want to win also. While more than 99% of the nation can’t tell you what Secretary of State John Kerry said about Syria this weekend—perhaps because they don’t know who Kerry is or what a Secretary of State does and, for that matter where Syria might be, more than 100% of our fellow citizens can tell you that Vince Lombardi of the Green Bay Packers coined the phrase, “Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing.” Of course, they would be wrong, as Vince apparently stole the quote from UCLA coach Henry Russell Sanders, who said it some ten years earlier. But I guess Vince was determined to be the one with the best quote ever. And because he is a winner we forgive him, just as we are quite willing to forgive our public enemy number 1’s, even going so far as to glorify them in movies. Think of Bonnie and Clyde. But forgive our number 2’s. Phooey. Yes, we are a competitive people. We grow up singing (from Annie Get Your Gun):
Anything you can do,
I can do better
I can do anything
Better than you.
And with that in mind, we take great pleasure and welcome responsibility in publishing, “The Only Thing—“The Less-intelligent-than-average-American Guide to the Art of Winning.” In the guide, you will learn that being a winner is often a matter of making the right choices.
1. In sports, you should pick a sport where the competition is not strong because no one wants to play it. My college, for example, had the number 1 pick-up-sticks team in the nation. Of course, the college was nestled in the mountains of Southern Appalachia and we could all practice by attempting to pick up rattlesnakes blindfolded, but that needn’t be your story. In the guide, we identify 500 of the least popular sports ever.
2. In sporting events, you must remember that if the team you root for is number 1, than you are number 1. Yes, chanting we’re number one, as you gulp your beer and munch your chips by the TV in air conditioned comfort, is certainly the moral equivalent of winning the big match played for over four hours In 110 degree heat. Hey, you have the t-shirt. Choose well! My friends are Mets fans. Why? My older brother, Bad Barry, introduced me to an important concept in the mid-fifties, when he declared that I was a NY Yankee, Green Bay Packer and Boston Celtic fan. I was only eleven months old at the time, but still old enough to know that when BadB spoke, you listened and simply shook your head yes. Find the best of the best in the Guide. Moreover, our interactive feature will allow you to change teams, instantly, as conditions change.
3. In games, you must choose your competition with the same care you use to choose self-help guides. You can be the words-with-friends champ if every member of your playing group is taking English as a second language on Wednesday nights at the local high school. Chess champ—register for classes for infants on line. Bridge, no sweat, give lessons to those who know so little of the game that they don’t even know the number of cards in a deck.
4. Always remember that being number 1 clearly extends to your offspring and your offspring’s offspring. Sure, bragging is fine but the real war for number one is being fought out in ever more outrageous bumper stickers. Your kid is an honor student? My kid eats honor students for lunch. Now with the simple cd included in the guide and some help from our spy agency, The NSA, you can move on to the brave new world of interactive bumper stickers. You will have the ability to evaluate the lives of the people in all the cars around you, find their weak points and rotate through a series of bumper stickers establishing that you are much, much better than they will ever be.
5. Be number 1 forever. We will identify the most probable locations of the fountain of youth. Find it and be the oldest person ever. That’s number 1.
Be a winner. Buy the guide. Then use it— not to win one for “the gipper”, but to win one for your Number 1—you.

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