Thursday, March 08, 2018

Silver Medal

The Super Bowl is over. Hit the reset button.
The Academy Awards are over. Hit the reset button.
The institutional memory of the United States is full. Hit the reset button.
The Where Are They Now file continues to expand as we swarm all over what is new and better and updated and fresh.
Who remembers last years' best picture nominees? History will soon present us with a pause that will ask us to remember which years Tom Brady lost the Super Bowl and which ones he won. What number iPhone are we on currently? The 2019 model year begins soon, and you'll want to get your reservation in for the all-Bluetooth Ford F-150.
As the old saying goes, "If it ain't broke, put it in a new box and charge more for it."
I am infamous in my household for hanging on to T-shirts long past their freshness date. My beloved Friday running shirt is now more than forty years old, and while it is nearly translucent gauze at this point, I cling to it as if it were an important link to the past. Do I really need the remnants of this garment to remember the stories of scrounging in the university athletic dumpsters behind the team house at Folsom Field? It gives me a talking point, much in the same way we can return to the moment in the eighty-ninth Oscar ceremony where La-La Land was announced as the winner of Best Picture before accountants scrambled from the wings to make their big reveal that it was actually Moonlight that won the trophy. Just as Martin Scorsese will forever glare at the empty spot on his mantle where his Oscar for Raging Bull does not stand, Peyton Manning will not remember his Super Bowl performance against the Seattle Seahawks after the snap that went sailing over his head on the first play from scrimmage. Just that one football drifting past his head, falling into the end zone for a safety that brought the rest of that house of cards down on top of him and his teammates for the rest of the afternoon.
And maybe that's the function I hold in our society: remembering the also-rans. The ones that didn't make it to the top before their fifteen minutes expired. There is not a question about the relative merits of burning out versus fading away. On a long enough timeline, everyone's moment in the sun is just that: a moment. It's time to pick up and move on, since the public demands its sacrifice and the altar for 2018 is currently bare. Who will be this year's model? We'll have to wait and see. And I'll be keeping track of second place.

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