Monday, December 21, 2015

The Instinct to Not to Look

Yeah, I heard about Steve Harvey’s mistake, misreading the card and mistakenly announcing the runner-up as the winner at the climax of last night’s Miss Universe pageant in Las Vegas.

Saw that being passed around Twitter moments after it happened, but I didn’t click through to see any video or explore it much further. Such screw-ups can certainly be funny to watch. And in fact one of my first thoughts upon hearing the story was how on a couple of occasions I’ve watched Harvey hosting Family Feud and genuinely laughed out loud at what were basically people saying dumb things and/or screwing up (with Harvey’s wry responses accentuating the humor).

But for whatever reason I often have a hard time getting much enjoyment out of watching others fail, especially in big, conspicuous ways. Maybe I’ve built up some empathy or something after decades spent speaking before groups and/or writing for an audience, knowing how unpleasant making mistakes can be, even small ones. Whatever the cause might be, my instinct seems to be not to look. The opposite of “rubbernecking,” if there's a word for that.

Speaking of looking away, earlier on Sunday I was riveted by my Carolina Panthers delivering a thumping to the New York Giants for most of three quarters, building up a 35-7 lead while turning Giants’ star receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. into a complete basket case. I saw Beckham respond to things not going his way by picking up three personal fouls, including once obviously trying to injure Panthers cornerback Josh Norman with a helmet-to-helmet hit away from the play.

I was right on the verge of getting a little irrational myself watching Beckham’s antics when I got pulled away from the game thanks to some unavoidable business to tend to here on the farm. As a result, I missed the entire fourth quarter that saw the Giants come storming back to tie the game, with the villain Beckham actually being the one to catch the TD pass that made it 35-all.

Thankfully the Panthers were able to tack on a winning FG to win the game and preserve their undefeated season for another week. And perhaps even more thankfully, I avoided the stress of watching all of that play out, as I’m sure that like Beckham I would’ve turned into a basket case myself.

Whereas with the Harvey gaffe I looked away intentionally, with the Panthers-Giants finale I was made to not to look by circumstances beyond my control. Both examples make me think a little of how back in the day when playing poker online I’d sometimes find myself looking away from the screen during all-in situations as the board filled out street-by-street. It wasn’t superstition -- rather, it was merely a defensive gesture designed to minimize the stress of having to fade another’s outs or root for my own.

I guess it happened a few times as well that I’d look back in time to be momentarily confused by the result, thinking I’d won -- “wait, wait, wait... my straight got there! ohhhh, he’s got the flush” -- when in fact I had lost.

You know, like poor Miss Colombia. Or the Giants. Or Harvey, for whom the night’s best moment turned out to be the worst.

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Blogger Memphis MOJO said...

Carolina Panthers delivering a thumping to the New York Giants for most of three quarters, building up a 35-7 lead

I was watching the game and at this point the announcers speculated that Carolina would pull Cam Newton. "No need to get him injured," you see.

12/21/2015 6:27 PM  
Blogger Short-Stacked Shamus said...

Yea, I remember that -- I had to step away shortly afterwards (when it was 35-14). Will be interesting to see how the Panthers handle these last two weeks, esp. if they clinch home field next wk.

12/22/2015 2:34 PM  

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