Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Most Awkward Award Show Moment I've Seen

Much like the other viewers of the Oscars telecast on Sunday night, I was in complete shock when the wrong winner was announced for best picture and the producers of La La Land accepted an award that, as it turned out, didn't belong to them. It was incredibly uncomfortable to watch. I cringed. I'm cringing as I replay the scene in my head while writing this post, four days later.

It was not, however, the most awkward award show moment I've seen. There was a more embarrassing mix-up back in 1993, during a ceremony at a middle school in New York. I remember it like it was yesterday, because I was the one who made the mistake.

It was a Thursday night in May, and my schoolmates and I assembled in the auditorium to honor the top academic performances. I couldn't name you one nominee from that year. I couldn't even tell you if I was a nominee. There were no ballots, to the best of my knowledge. 

We were all told to show up, so we did. It was as simple as that. If Woody Allen had been my classmate, he would have been forced to participate or else face suspension.

Here are some other ways in which this award ceremony in no way resembled the Oscars:

* The attendees were dressed in their finest flannel tees.
* Every single attendee brought at least one parent as his or her date.
* It opened with a monologue by a principal, not a comedian.
* Winners were presented not with statues, but rather with certificates. Or maybe with #2 pencils. Or vouchers for one complimentary serving of tater tots in the cafeteria. Something along those lines. 
* There were no after-parties. Though, to be fair, my family did take me to a nearby Carvel for a Flying Saucer.

Here's one way in which this award ceremony did resemble the Oscars:

* It went on for way too long.

By 9:30, I was nodding off. I couldn't help it. I was tired. I was bored. I'd lost interest. It just didn't seem very likely that I'd win anything. 

And then...."Shane!" Followed by a round of applause. Did I hear right? Had my name been announced? It sure sounded like it, but I was half-asleep. I sought confirmation.

"Did they just call my name?" I asked my friends sitting next to me. "Yes!" they answered with enthusiasm. A little too much enthusiasm. A suspicious amount of enthusiasm. My gut told me that they weren't telling the truth, that they were hoping I'd make a fool of myself by walking onto the stage.

Unfortunately, my brain told me, "You idiot, there's a chance you may have won something for once in your life! Get up there and find out!"

I listened to my brain, like the idiot that I am. I stood up, marched down the aisle, got on that stage, approached the presenter and asked him, "Did you call my name?"



I turned around, got off that stage, marched up the aisle, and sat down in my seat. My friends laughed. Other audience members laughed. A lot more laughter than there was for the monologue, that's for sure.

I can sympathize with what the La La Land producers went through last Sunday. But at least they heard their name called before they took the stage. I never had my name called, and I still took the stage.

That was the most awkward award show moment I've seen.

You know what was really weird about it? The category I thought I'd won? The actual winner was Moonlight.

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