The Fat Lady Sings

Success requires a printer to be nimble, resourceful, and responsive.

Isn’t it strange how expressions get caught up in everyday usage, until you really don’t know who said them originally or even what they meant for that matter? I was reminded about this over the weekend when my brother’s grandchild showed me her trophy for golf. My brother, Jim, encouraged the 12-year-old Elizabeth during the last few holes of her tournament. The girl Elizabeth was scheduled to compete against was a much stronger golfer. To encourage Elizabeth, my brother leaned over and whispered, “It’s not over until the fat lady sings.”

Elizabeth is plenty smart, but she didn’t see any fat lady on the course during the kids’ tournament, and singing had nothing whatsoever to do with golf.

“No, no, it’s just an expression. It means that you shouldn’t give up because anything can happen during a golf match and that it is not over yet until the final ball sinks into the 18th hole,” Jim explained.

Elizabeth did wind up with the championship trophy because the other girl’s ball smacked into a tree, ricocheting out across a patch of thick weeds. Taking credit for the win, Jim had Elizabeth’s trophy engraved with the comment, “The fat lady finally sang.”

Later that evening, Elizabeth and I talked about Wagner’s never-ending operas and how at the closing scene of one of them, a hefty lady named Brünnhilda sang her final arias. “That’s where it comes from—an opera that goes on and on, ending with one climatic song sung by a chubby lady,” I said.

The fat lady is not singing for screen printing. She may start to harmonize rather than grab all of the solos. The more I talk to those in the industrial sector, where people are willing to invest in membrane switches, photovoltaics, medical products, organic light-emitting diodes, and smart technology, the more I respect the skills and intelligence it takes to think of screen printing as it applies to different markets. We have a new magazine that fits just these applications called Industrial + Specialty Printing. But beyond this, for traditional screen printers the answer to survival is to embrace whatever the customer demands. You will need to address those needs in modern ways, and you will need to change your attitude from “I am a screen printer” to “I am a skilled partner who can help you achieve your goals.”

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