Sunday, May 22, 2011

Not a Leg Lamp, But Still Cool

HARBESON: Hey, I got an award!

> SOUTHERN INDIANA — Sunday started out like most Sundays for me. Upon waking, my husband and I had our usual skirmish, maneuvering for prime kitchen table space in order to spread out our respective sections of the newspaper while eating breakfast.

After the battle was over and table boundaries agreed upon, I settled into my relaxed Sunday morning reading mode ... until I read something so shocking that I spit active yogurt cultures all over page four.

Apparently, I won second place in the General Interest Column category in Division 4 of the 2011 Associated Press Managing Editor’s Awards. I didn’t even know I was eligible for such an award until Editor Shea Van Hoy invited me to submit three columns from 2010 if I wanted to participate. Thanks Shea.

Yeah, yeah, I understand I received second place, but still it’s an award. I don’t know a lot about it but I wonder if there is some sort of tangible acknowledgment other than a mention in the paper.

I hope so, because I’ve been feeling really jealous when seeing the awards my family has received lately. For example, my mom earned several shiny medals at last year’s local Senior Games.

(By the way, watch out seniors because she is determined to win more medals again this year. The woman is absolutely possessed. She even excused herself from our Mother’s Day party because she needed to “go shoot some hoops.” So if anyone reading this planned to enter in the 79-86 age category, consider this a fair warning to practice.)

Then a couple weeks ago, my daughter and son-in-law received huge sparkly medals for finishing the Derby Festival Mini-Marathon. Are cool medals only reserved for people who actually get off their butts and do something physical?

If so, I still deserve such a medal because writing this column is very physical for me. Just ask my husband. He’ll tell you I often run through the rooms of our house, sometimes yelling and screaming at the same time. I also stomp on the stairs and pound my fingers on the keyboard. I’ve even been known to throw things occasionally.

It’s quite a workout.

So, I’m sure you agree that such activity deserves a medal or maybe even the newspaper equivalent of a leg lamp — that fantastic award the Dad wins in the movie, “A Christmas Story.” Well maybe I shouldn’t expect that much. After all, leg lamps are for major awards and I came in second.

On the other hand, I already know second place will be plenty good enough for my friend, Jim, who will use it to confirm his view that I am part of a horrible group known as the media elite. But if there is such a thing, I still don’t think I’m a member because no one at the paper even told me I won an award before I read the article.

I spent some time wondering why neither Shea nor anyone else at the paper personally informed me I had placed in these awards and I think I know why, at least as far as Shea is concerned.

It’s because he knew I’d just have to write a column about it and this was his way of making sure he would get his name mentioned in an award-winning newspaper column.

Some of you are probably thinking he didn’t tell me because of a concern that I might turn into a prima donna and make crazy demands. However, that can’t possibly happen because I already act like a prima donna and make crazy demands.

It can’t get any worse. Or can it?

— Sellersburg resident and award-winning columnist Debbie Harbeson wonders if the newspaper version of a leg lamp award is a bird cage.


  1. Well, this is the other Jim, and I either have a problem with second place, or I'd sure like to read whoever got first. You're a wonderful writer, and I'm encouraged to see that somebody connected with the Associated Press is awake and can read.

    I'm also guessing that I know why your local editor was hoping you wouldn't notice your own award. I'm guessing that right now he gets your column .... um, for free, maybe? And it may have occurred to him that the life of that arrangement might be limited when it turns out that you're a national award winner.

    Hey, if you'd like, I'll be your agent, for, say, 5% of the gross. I'll have a little chat with Shea. It'll be brief, on my part, at least ... consisting entirely of: "Show me the money."

    Seriously: congratulations!

  2. Thanks Jim, and just to be clear, it was for the Indiana Associated Press Managing Editors.

    I think I'll definitely contact you if I decide I want an agent. :) In the meantime you can go find that first place winner and break his keyboard or something. ;)