On becoming a Nobel Prize nominee

Burt Prelutsky
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Posted: Jan 30, 2006 12:05 AM
Unlike most public brouhahas, the one that took place over Tookie Williams at least provided a little light to go with all the heat. Until then, I must confess I had no idea that any schnook could nominate any other schnook for a Nobel Prize. What’s more, you can even nominate yourself. But, like most people, I don’t regard that as cricket. It’s not playing the game, as our English friends put it.

So it is that my wife and I are nominating each other. I wanted her to nominate me for the Peace Prize, mainly because I felt that if a schlimiel like Jimmy Carter could win, the competition couldn’t be too great. I mean, as long as I’m going to be nominated anyway, why not go for the gold? A million bucks is nothing to sneeze at.

However, when I broached the matter with my wife, she said, “Ha!”

When I asked her to explain herself, she said, “You’re not so peaceful.”

I tried to explain that’s not what the Prize is all about, but in the end I finally gave up, and she’s nominating me in the field of Literature. I think my chances of winning have diminished greatly. In short, I’m not holding my breath. That’s not to say I don’t deserve it, but the truth is, based on the way those darn Swedes seem to go about their business, my money is on some Eskimo poet who’s come up with 8,000 words that rhyme with igloo.

I’m nominating my wife for the prize in what they call Economic Sciences. Unless they award the dough to some professor from the University of Chicago for discovering an actual use for pennies, I think Mrs. Prelutsky has a real shot based on having almost single-handedly kept the American economy afloat in 2005.

I also discovered recently that a person can submit his own work for Pulitzer Prize consideration. In order to cover my bases, I entered that competition, too. Although I believe the prize money is only a few thousand dollars, I liked the idea of hedging my bet just in case I don’t win the Nobel. However, if by some miracle I should cop both, I would join the likes of Sinclair Lewis, Eugene O’Neill, Pearl Buck, William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, Saul Bellow and Toni Morrison. My obituary would then identify me as only the ninth American ever to have won both those major writing awards.

And that, believe me, would be one heck of a lot better than merely having to settle for being, like Tookie Williams, Norman Mailer and my wife, just another Nobel Prize nominee.