My 20-year-old daughter bounced into the kitchen; eyes sparkling with the delight of knowing that she knew something I didn't.
The options of what the "what" may be, were endless. I did a lightning fast review of possibilities that ranged from a good grade on one of her assignments at University, all the way down to the scintillating idea that Brad may have left Angelina and gone back to Jen.
With such a plethora of "whats" to choose from, I decided to go with the safest response.
"Dunno Kylie. What?"
Leaning forward, she threw her arms around me in an enormous Kylie-type hug and squealed, "Hugh Laurie is up for an Emmy!"
Well! That was exciting news.
No, seriously I mean it that WAS exciting news.
British Actor, Hugh Laurie, has been a favorite of ours for years. Long before he ever became the star of the Fox Network television show, "House," Kylie and I had loved him particularly for the role he played as "George" in the hysterically funny Blackadder series. So the news that he had been nominated for the award of "Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series" in the 2005 Emmys, was enough to make my day. The fact that I had never before had the slightest bit of interest in any award shows, including the Emmys, didn't matter. This time was different!
Kylie and I did a little huggy-happy-dance around the kitchen to celebrate the news then reality bit.
"But he won't win you know."
The instant I made that doom-laden pronouncement, my daughter recoiled in horror and said, "Gee Mum, it's great to see you being so optimistic."
I shrugged sadly and explained. "It's not because he doesn't deserve to win because you and I both know that he does. I mean, honestly, like d'uh, everyone knows that."
"So?" Kylie prompted, still looking at me as though I'd crawled out from under a rock.
"It's just that I REALLY want to see him win," I continued, "and you should know by now that almost every time I start cheering someone on, it's like the kiss of death on their chances."
Okay, I know that sounded a bit melodramatic, but to be honest, based on past performance, it's not that far from the truth. Sporting teams, golf pros, racing car drivers, political candidates, talent show contestants they all seem to drop like flies as soon as I don the pom-poms and start cheering from the sidelines. I guess you could say I'm the Typhoid Mary of long-term celebrity success because, of course, the world revolves around me and I have so much influence on such things.
Kylie's expression changed to one of deep thoughtfulness as I came to the end of my very succinct and quite believable explanation. At that point I believe she was tossing up between two options one, to contact the men in white jackets; and two, to show great compassion and understanding toward her obviously delusional mother.
In the end she went with three, which was to jump into the delusion herself just to be on the safe side.
"Well, if that's the case," the 20-year-old fount of all wisdom began, "then I strongly suggest that you don't cheer him on at all."
Of course! Why hadn't I thought of that before? From that point on, I would act nonchalant about the whole thing. If the subject came up, I'd brush it aside with a puzzled, "Emmys? Is it that time again?" And if someone were to be foolish enough to mention that Hugh had been nominated, I'd simply respond in my most disinterested fashion, "Really? Oh, that must be quite nice for him."
For the first month after the nominees were announced, the task of ignoring the hype was extremely easy. Living on the other side of the world, in Australia, certainly helped me to keep my distance and maintain my "couldn't care less" exterior. In fact, whole days would go by, and I wouldn't even give the awards a second thought.
Yes, for those initial 31 days, keeping my hopes down was a piece of cake but then things began to go wrong.
To start with, by this time the "fount of all wisdom" had obviously forgotten that her mother wasn't to be excited on this particular subject, and so didn't think twice about waving relevant pictures and articles under my nose as her own excitement began to build.
Each time she did, little stirrings of hope started to bubble to the surface often rising to the top before I had time to grab a pin and pop them back into oblivion! Still, I was able to catch enough of them to successfully avoid a full scale optimism break out from happening just!
Then, two weeks before the big event, the advertising started not only on the free-to-air channel that had the Australian rights to telecast the ceremony, but also on several cable channels as well. Even the Biography Channel got in on the act with a week of documentaries spotlighting notable Emmy Award winners from the past, together with some of the better known nominees from today.
I couldn't escape it! Emmy fever was everywhere or at the very least, Emmy "slight-increase-in-temperature." No matter where I turned, there was something crouching in wait, just looking for any opportunity to jump out and remind me that the "big day" was fast approaching. Normally, I wouldn't bat an eyelid but this wasn't "normally."
By this point, the little bubbles of hope were really simmering and it was all I could do to keep the lid on things so that they didn't spill over and make a humungous mess everywhere. It wasn't easy.
Then one week before the gala night, I hit my most vulnerable point, with a veritable pressure cooker of optimism brewing inside, and no outlet for it to escape. In a moment of weakness, I did a "Google" and went surfing on the Net keywords, "Hugh, Laurie, House, Emmy, Nomination."
Yes ... I was living a lie. I was a closet cheerleader and it was all about to come exploding out.
Clicking from site to site, I eventually came across an article that had been written shortly after the nominations were announced. It turned out to be my complete undoing.
In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter on the July 14, 2005, Mr. Laurie was quoted as saying, "I'm still reeling ... I've been doing this for 20-odd years and never really been sure that I've been doing the right thing, that I've been in the right place at the right time. It's wonderful to feel at last that maybe I didn't pick the wrong career, that I didn't take a wrong turning, that maybe this is something that I ought to be doing."
That did it! The sound of someone in need of encouragement was all that was required for the encourager in me to finally break loose from my self-imposed restraints. The cheerleader unfurled her pom-poms and the eternal optimist at last said, "Hey, this glass looks like it's more than half full!"
From that point on, there was no turning back.
The days raced by as the final countdown began, until at last, the red carpet moment arrived.
Even though I was as giddy as a schoolgirl with the excitement of being set free to hope, I was determined not to watch the actual telecast. For those of us in the land Down Under, the live broadcast was set to begin at 9 am on Monday, 19th September. Being a "can't-stand-award-shows" type of person from way back, I was quite happy to go about my normal business and worry about who won what later or better yet, "Hugh" won what later!
But even that wasn't meant to be.
Two days before the event, our computer crashed, leaving me cut off from the work that I would normally be doing on a Monday morning. So, with no other option (apart from the very unappealing chores of dusting, vacuuming, mopping and cleaning the bathroom), I set up the ironing board in front of the television and used the off-line time to press the weekend laundry.
Of course, the fact that the Emmys just happened to be on at that particular moment, was purely coincidental.
Kylie wandered in and out of the room as she prepared to leave for work, all the while grumbling that she would much rather stay home and watch the show with me. This attitude was made worse when she missed a five second glimpse of our "hero" arriving on the scene, because she was in the shower.
I yelled, and a towel-draped daughter came running but she was too late, missing his arrival by less than a millisecond.
"Rats!" she fumed. "Now I have to go to stinky work and I won't see anything at all. It's not fair."
Twenty minutes later, she was gone and I was alone with my ironing, television and pom-poms.
After that, the time dragged interminably as the long, drawn out ceremony meandered its way to a climax. It was then I realized why these events are not my favorite form of viewing I am way too impatient! I wanted to cut to the chase.
Even so, I stayed put waiting with bated breath for that one, all-important, award to be announced. The painful process was made momentarily less excruciating when the creator of "House," David Shore, won the Emmy for "Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series."
In that instant, my hope skyrocketed to a world-record high!
As the telecast drew near its conclusion, the time arrived to finally announce which of the five nominees would have the honor of taking home the award for Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series.
I sat poised on the edge of my seat, all thoughts of ironing long gone, as the envelope was slowly opened and the winner's name was announced.....
For a split second, my brain tried to understand how an American accent could possibly make the words "Hugh Laurie" sound so exactly like "James Spader."
Then, just as quickly as it had come, my brief fling with denial passed, as I watched the winner take center stage to the applause of his peers.
Momentarily, the pom-poms drooped floorward as I felt myself slump with disappointment.
Then with a quick shake and a huge sigh, I squared my shoulders and cheerfully announced to the empty room, "Oh well. There's always next time."
Hope really is one of the most amazing, indomitable, unquenchable gifts ever bestowed by God on the human race. At times it may dip out of sight for a season, but it will never give up without a fight even when we try to squelch it ourselves.
It's found in the momentous events of life, and it's there also in the microscopic minutiae.
It walks hand in hand with love, and it holds the fort when there is war.
It explodes in life, and it comforts in death.
It paints a silver lining on every disappointment and whispers gentle reminders to our soul that, "The best is always yet to come."
It stirs, it fires, it pushes, it prods and come rain, hail or shine it never lets go, until at last those dreams are fulfilled.
While there is breath in our bodies and the promise of another tomorrow, there will always be hope.
As for Hugh Laurie...well, if he doesn't win an Emmy again next year, he can feel free to blame me.
Copyright Deborah Porter October, 2005
Deborah Porter is Editor of FaithWriters' Magazine and Coordinator of the Writing Challenge. A freelance writer and editor (www.finessewriting.com.au) she also has her own website (www.breathfreshair.org). Deb is the writer and presenter of the new Cool Country Gospel Hour on Sydney's radio 2KA.