Last year at Awards time, two or three people picked most of them up. Their works were indeed superior and the judges had little choice. But this year at Awards time, the men in tuxedos and women in gowns of exotic cloths and laces heard an even, if not odd, distribution of prizes. The administrators at first gave reasons for certain awards, as though making excuses for decisions of which they were once confident.
"The MacFarland award to Mister Falcon because he spent a lot of time summarizing first."
The room was a murmur and Falcon stood up and marched toward the stage. and his coal-tails brushed the oak of the walls of this old building.
Then Jackson was given the prize of distinguished accomplishment. The crowd lowly grumbled and a few peripheral members applauded. The judges seemed defiant, as though they were acting on new information.
The judges continued passing awards out lo unlikely people, and favorites were acclaimed in categories they never expected.
And so for forty-five minutes the crowd sat astonished and listened to judges announcing awards for stature and flow of the line.
I think that after the first thirty minutes, the members, now mellowed by wine, began to understand and rejoice in the course of the evening and conversation and wit were heard in the room with the dim chandeliers. Then everyone picked up their wraps and awards, walked outside in the light snow, departed in carriages, or some in their cars, and vanished into a black night, thinking of something they knew long ago.
-- from Cruel Shoes by Steve Martin