Reconciling our dreams with reality is never easy. And judging from the second night of “ American Idol” — which focused on those who showed up to audition in Seattle — this particular struggle is especially difficult in the world’s rainiest city.
But not all is lost, since we can learn from their mistakes and get a better grip on our lives than the potential contestants seem to have on theirs. With that, I give you the lessons I gleaned from this episode:
1) If you need an honest self-appraisal, don’t expect to get it from your child, especially if he or she is under the age of 6.
Amy, who was so moved when she discussed how supportive her pre-pubescent child was of her singing that she wept, failed to understand that all children at that age love everything their mothers do. That’s because at 6-years-old we simply don’t know any better.
Amy, please check in on the kid when he’s 16, and I guarantee he’ll be singing a different tune.
2) Need an excuse for a poor performance? Reach deep into your arsenal and try to come up with a good one.
While having a cold can indeed negatively impact your singing ability, we all know that a case of the sniffles doesn’t turn Stevie Wonder into William Hung.
Similarly, being nervous or out of practice — I’m talking to you, “Red” — doesn’t cause tunelessness.
3) If at first you don’t succeed, it’s not always a good idea to try, try again.
What is it with those people who imagine that somehow the judges’ scowls will turn to smiles if only they get another shot?
If you just attempted to do something you think you might be good at, and a person with the power to help you achieve success in that arena begs you to stop, you are in all likelihood being given a bitter pill that you need to swallow.
4) Insulting the person giving you said bitter pill will not — I repeat not — help your chances for success.
I realize that attacking Simon Cowell is something of a national pastime, but telling the guy who’s considered largely responsible for making the world’s most popular show prosperous that he stinks won’t make anyone think you’re a better singer, no matter what your endorphin-addled mind is telling you at the time.
5) If you’re angling for a career in stand-up comedy, hysterical laughter from your audience is good. Otherwise, it’s not. And if someone asks if you’re drunk when you finish singing? Not good — even if you’re in a karaoke bar.
6) The Pussycat Dolls don’t even sound that great when they ask us if we wish we were hot like them. If you’re not hot — or female — please forget the words to “Don’t Cha.” Even if you are, don’t expect to sing this song and still have your dignity intact.
7) When things can’t get any worse, the only place to go is up. Bring on Memphis!

Anna David is a freelance writer. Her first novel, "Party Girl," is coming out in June 2007 from HarperCollins.