It occurred to me the other day that I probably hold the world’s record for the greatest number of times a person has come close to having a big dream come true… and then failed miserably.
The first example that comes to mind happened back in the early 1990s when I, on about my 700th diet, became desperate to cheat because of an intense, unrelenting craving for chocolate. I didn’t, however, want my husband to find out how weak I was. So, thinking I was clever, I hid some Hershey bars in the VCR in the bedroom. Then, all I had to do was hit the “eject” button on the VCR, and up would pop my secret stash of chocolate bars.
“I have something I want you to see,” my husband said to me one night. He held up a video camera and proceeded to show me a video he’d secretly taped of me popping chocolate bars out of the VCR and stuffing them, nearly whole, into my mouth.
I was aghast. “How on earth did you tape me?”
“I suspected you were up to something when you started spending time in the bedroom every night right after supper, so I hid the camera in the closet facing the bed, opened the door just a crack and aimed it through there. Then I just let it record for an hour.”
Before I could respond, he added, laughing, “And guess what? I sent it to ‘America’s Funniest Home Videos!’”
My first thought was to wrap my chocolate-covered fingers around his neck and strangle him. My second thought was maybe it wouldn’t be so terrible to look like a complete fool on national TV…if it meant winning $10,000.
About a month later, a packet of paperwork and release forms arrived from “America’s Funniest Home Videos.” They loved the video, they said. They wanted to air it, they also said.
Excited, my husband and I quickly signed everything and sent it back. We then couldn’t wait to tell all of our friends, relatives, neighbors and anyone else who would listen, that I was going to be on TV. We anxiously waited for the video to air.
I’m still waiting.
Another big letdown happened the time I entered a weight-loss contest in “Star” magazine. The prize was $500 and a photo spread in the publication. To enter, contestants had to send “before” and “after” photos along with their favorite diet and exercise tips. I had just spent months working very hard to drop 80 pounds, so I decided to enter the contest.
Months passed and I completely forgot about it…until the day before my husband and I were scheduled to leave on a long-planned vacation. That’s when I received a call from the “Star,” telling me I’d won the contest.
Before I could catch my breath, the female caller said, “We’ll be over in the morning for your photo shoot."
Panicking, a million thoughts raced through my mind, such as how fast I could get my house completely redecorated.
“My husband and I are leaving on vacation to Las Vegas in the morning,” I explained to her. “We already have tickets for our flight and a couple of must-see shows there. Please, can we postpone the shoot for just a week?”
There was a long silence on the other end of the phone. Finally, the woman said, “Well…OK,” in a tone that clearly told me it wasn’t. “We’ll get back to you.”
Once again, I’m still waiting…particularly for my $500.
Then, about 10 years ago, I wrote a humorous article about baking called, “Attack of the Giant Dough Ball.” I sent a query letter to “Woman’s Day” magazine, asking if they might be interested in seeing it. I also enclosed a few of my already-published columns as samples of my work.
Weeks passed, and I didn’t think about the query letter again…until I received an email from an editor at “Woman’s Day.” She said the magazine preferred to stay away from humor about cooking, but she really was impressed with the sample columns I’d sent and was wondering if I had any other humorous pieces she could see.
I sat down and thought of a bunch of funny things (that didn’t involve cooking) I could write about that might appeal to her: laundry mishaps, swimsuit shopping, bridesmaids’ gowns, backseat drivers, and a few more. I figured whichever topic she chose, I quickly could write an article about it and zip it right off to her.
“All of your ideas sound great,” she wrote back. “Send all of them!”
I panicked. How on earth, I wondered, was I going to write eight articles and send them to her before she was old enough for retirement? The answer was to spend about 10 hours a day at my computer, writing.
Just when my eyeballs were about to fall out of their sockets from staring endlessly at my computer screen, I finally finished the articles and emailed them to “Woman’s Day.” Never had I felt so positive, so optimistic. This finally was going to be my big break, I told myself. After all, why else would the editor ask for so many of my articles? Did she want me to write and contribute humor columns on a regular basis, the way Erma Bombeck had done for “Good Housekeeping?”
I even checked one of my writers’ guides to see what “Woman’s Day” was paying per article back then. When I learned it was $2,000 and up, I nearly suffered a coronary.
Each day that followed seemed like an eternity. Whenever the phone rang, my heartbeat quickened. Whenever I checked my email, I held my breath.
“No news is good news,” my husband kept telling me every time I’d whine about the anticipation driving me crazy.
Finally, when I barely could take the stress any longer, an email arrived from the editor. She wrote: “I'm very sorry for taking so long to get back to you about your essays. While they're funny and well- written, the tone is not quite right for our magazine. Thank you very much for taking the time to send them. Please let me know if you have any more ideas for essays, and feel free to email me.”
I was totally confused. My tone wasn’t right for her magazine, yet she still wanted me to send her more ideas? Why?
Anyway, I could list another dozen or so similar letdowns, but I think I’ve tortured myself enough for the time being.
Meanwhile, I’m still waiting for my big break.
With my luck, it probably will be my hip.
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