I went to the post office today to mail a present to my brother to wrap up with the rest of the presents that the family is giving to Dad because his birthday’s on Saturday.
(There will never be a greater opening line than that one right there.)
While I was waiting for the postal person to weigh the package and print the label and whatever else it is he needed to do, he apparently was driven to break the tension and the unbearable silence and was compelled to talk to me about something, anything.
He chose basketball.
I am male and it is March, and those were all the reasons he needed to start with this line: “Well, I heard Iowa’s out of it already.”
By the time it had registered with me what he was talking about and what, exactly, he had said, I had already said, “Oh, yeah?” which, of course, in male language means, “I had not heard that. I can’t believe I missed a minute of the coverage of the college tournament. Please tell me more about it! And, please, don’t tell anyone else that I didn’t already know about Iowa!”
He picked up his cue and proceeded to make various comments about various teams that had played today, expressing surprise at some and glee at others. I responded with the requisite grunts of acknowledgment and surprise/grief, and even added a “Well, that’s why they play the games, because you just never know!” in response to an apparent upset.
I got out of there without my cover being blown, and I resolved to do one of two things: either watch all the college ball I could for the next month or avoid anyone who looks like they might be into college ball even a little. Option #2 is looking mighty good right now.
I do not care for basketball. When I took stats and taped the games in high school, I did it largely as an excuse to travel with the team without having to do any actual work. All my friends were on the team, and I wanted to hang out with them. I remember enjoying basketball a little back then, but I’m sure that was mostly because I knew the guys who were playing. After my stint was over, so was any interest I had in the sport. Sure, I got to see Michael Jordan play a few years later, but that’s bigger than the sport of basketball. I just don’t care for the game. In fact, I can’t even play a basketball videogame and enjoy it, and I’ve played (and enjoyed!) rugby and soccer videogames!
A cow-orker had me sign up in one of those bracket competitions they have around this time every year. Don’t worry, there’s no money involved – there’s some kind of point system which determines a winner at the end of the tournament. I don’t think the winner even gets anything, except maybe bragging rights. His wife has actually won it the last two years, and she likes basketball even less than I do (I’m guessing here).
I normally go through and pick my teams based on where they’re from (any team from Wisonsin automatically gets picked), what the mascots are (Banana slugs? WAY better than any old Blue Devils!), or what their colors are (green and white beats yellow and orange any time). That strategy didn’t serve me so well last year, and I came in dead last. So this year I used a high-risk system: I chose the lowest-seeded team in any given matchup. If a number 16 was playing a number one, I chose the sixteen. My Final Four this year is made up of all four sixteen seeds.
Note: that will never happen in a million years.
My idea was to get defeated early in the process so I wouldn’t stress about after the first weekend. Plus, by using a ridiculous method, I gain some laugh-points with the other people playing. If, by some weird twist of mathematics I happen to edge someone else out (upsets earn more points in the figuring), well, that earns major laugh-points.
In the meantime, I’m working on my “I can’t believe that happened!”s and my “They just wanted it more”s. The cats tell me I sound pretty convincing.