I’m not much for New Year’s resolutions, old enough now to know how well that goes. But thanks to performer Mariah Carey, I’m giving it a go again in 2017.
This year, I’m going to practice being a good loser.
If you missed it, Carey was performing on “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” with Ryan Seacrest just before midnight. Actually, she was trying to perform, but she couldn’t hear anything because of an earpiece malfunction. She strutted around a bit, forced a smile, prayed for a miracle and eventually threw up her hands and left the stage.
Lots of social media criticism followed, because that’s what we do best, but what seemed lacking in the cheap-seats commentary was anybody suggesting how she might have more gracefully dealt with an embarrassing and hugely public disappointment.
For heaven’s sake, she didn’t throw anything.
Besides, who among us isn’t going to have our own malfunction or two in 2017? Here, then, are a few unsolicited suggestions directed at myself, but available to you, just in case.
Avoid blaming others. Tempting? Absolutely. The singer’s manager, Stella Bulochnikov, fingered Dick Clark Productions and producer Mark Shimmel. Hmmm. Here is where I throw in one of my favorite grown-up phrases: “When you’re explaining, you’re losing.”
The producers may very well have screwed up, but it doesn’t change the outcome. Ever watch an adult shouting about how everybody else dropped the ball? How the ref stinks? Folks like that lose credibility, and an audience, mighty quickly. Besides, our goal (remember?) is to show what a grand sport we are. So, on to the next suggestion.
Apologize. And do it right. Even if others did conspire to make a mess of things for the pop culture star, she can still say she’s sorry that she wasn’t able to perform the songs she had long rehearsed and was so eager to sing for us. We, too, can say we’re sorry that we didn’t show up on time, left the kitchen a mess, said something hurtful in a moment of anger. Be specific. Express that we understand why this would be upsetting. And, most important, do not repeat the act. I repeat: Do not repeat.
Prepare better next time. The chance of repeating is lessened if we prepare, practice, get in the right mind-set. Make sure the headset works, the PowerPoint is set, the car has gas, the arrival time is clear. And know that, even if we do all these things, the world might conspire against us with a flat tire.
So always have a Plan B. An extra mic. Handouts. An Uber app. A stand-up comic who can entertain until we get there. (OK, maybe that last idea is impractical). But do have a Plan B.
Use humor. When I was a teenager, I remember crossing a street after a snowstorm and slipping on my derriere. It had turned into a sunny afternoon and cars were stopped in all directions, their drivers staring at me. I got up and bowed dramatically. Drivers honked and laughed with delighted surprise. I’m a little worried that might have been my finest moment on Earth, but, hey, so be it.
Forgive ourselves. Those inner critics? Put them on notice that we are going to be kinder to people this year, including ourselves. And let them know that they need to get with the program pronto.
Find the silver lining. Yes, I know that’s totally cheesy but I don’t care. It’s good for us to say, “on the other hand.” For example, on the other hand, Carey’s lucky. Her screw-up occurred in the final minutes of 2016. Into the dumpster fire those few unfortunate moments go. Good riddance.
Here’s wishing her, and all of us, smooth performances going forward.