The High Cost of Losing

Thanks, but Honorable Mention is still not winning.

Bev Potter
3 min readFeb 15, 2024


Photo by Igor Omilaev on Unsplash

I “won” honorable mention in a contest recently, and, like sore losers everywhere, I’m disgruntled.

Honorable mention is code for, “You lost, but not as badly as other people lost. In fact, you almost won, which is still losing, but you should be happy you came so close! In fact, if that one other person hadn’t entered — she missed the deadline, or was one word over the cutoff, or was too depressed to hit the ‘send’ button, or had cholera—you would be the winner right now instead of her! Isn’t that great!!?”

I was never a good loser, which explains the gaping hole in my high school resume where all the sports should be. I was a brain, not a jock. I only wanted to participate in things where I knew I could decimate my competition. Not just win, but grind them into the dirt and then expel some sort of bodily fluid on them.

Nothing has changed. I haven’t “grown” or “matured”. All the intervening years of losing have possibly made me even worse at it.

So to compensate, I sometimes enter small contests where I know I’m head and shoulders, and even torso above the competition. I’m a ringer.

I thought this particular contest would qualify, since about 30 people enter it and they’re mostly housewives who’ve been told by their friends in the PTA that they’re funny.

I know most humor writers, the market being what it is (nonexistent), would give their eye teeth (why is it always “eye teeth”? Are they really that important? I feel like I would miss a molar a lot more) to win anything at all.

But the funny thing about tasting even a tiny spoonful of sweet, sweet success is that your expectations go up accordingly. You start expecting to win.

I even had a little dream scenario cooked up where I would Uber (at their expense) to the seminar where the award is being presented and read my moving, heartfelt, artfully crafted essay to a packed auditorium of (mostly) women who would sob shamelessly into their program guides.



Bev Potter

Legal secretary by day, insomniac by night. Ally. BA, MA. Humor, pop culture, and things that make you think. My weekly-ish newsletter is