Tuesday, March 25, 2008

64: A Collection of Stories

I didn't begin watching college basketball until high school, and even then I was willing to miss a few tournament games to eat dinner with my parents at Bob Evans. Their spaghetti and garlic toast was irresistible.

By my junior year it was a sin to miss March Madness games. I even caught most of the conference tournament games the week before the madness began. I watched teams from the mid-major conferences like the Atlantic 10 and Conference USA—whatever was on TV.

I remember that weekend like it was yesterday. It was my seventh cycle of chemo and I did it outpatient. The clinic was closed on the weekend, so I had to get my two hours of chemo on the gloomy hospital wing. There were very few other patients. It was so quiet and dark. Before leaving it took forever for my nurse to put my leg brace on.

How stupid can you be? Pull the strap and secure. Hurry the fuck up. Get me out of here.

If it wasn't for the soothing sounds of raucous fans and lame announcers, I might've acted on those thoughts and yelled at her. I'm glad I didn't. It's bad enough that I felt the need to think so poorly of her. That woman was spending her Saturday on a depressing hospital floor administering chemotherapy to children. How much worse did I need to make her day?

Zeke, Ho-Train and I hosted a 3-on-3 charity basketball tournament in our school gym in January for our DECA—a marketing club—project. We raised over $1,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The tournament was featured on the front page of our local newspaper, Potomac News and Manassas Journal Messenger. Thirteen teams entered the tournament, including one with The Stumbler and HollaAtYoBoy called “The Stumbler Sucks,” although HollaAtYoBoy was actually worse. Much to nobody's surprise, they were pitiful.

At the tournament Mr. Spunkmeyer, our DECA advisor, wanted me to meet a friend of his. It was a young boy who had cancer. The boy's mother expected me to give him inspiration. I was hesitant at first, having no clue what to say. I finally found my balls, sat on the bleachers and told the little boy everything would be okay. In a short time his cancer would go away and he'd play basketball again. I felt ridiculous, like a fake ass cheerleader. Mr. Spunkmeyer later told me I had a very positive effect on him. If he's still alive then he's probably in middle school by now. And hopefully still playing basketball.

It was the perfect way to start March Madness—friends, wings, and beer. I should've counted the number of beers we finished. I know it was well over 100.

When the afternoon games ended, we went to the dining hall, drunk and giddy. The girl at the table next to us tripped and dropped her tray, her food flying everywhere. HollaAtYoBoy, already on his way to 20 Budweisers, laughed in her face. I tried to keep from smiling, but the harder I tried the funnier I found it. In the end, our table was laughing so loud that everyone in the room was looking over at the food sprawled over the dirty floor. That poor, poor girl.

Some friends and I continued watching games through the night, throwing empty beer cans at each other when necessary. Others went out to party. Thinking that HollaAtYoBoy didn't want to leave, they came back from the party without him. What they didn't realize was that since HollaAtYoBoy didn't go to UVA, he didn't know where I lived. When my friends went back out to get him, HollaAtYoBoy was just about to leave on a cross-state trip with strangers. His possessions, car, and ability to walk straight were still at UVA.

Sean Singletary
I sent this email to the showman himself after he hit a ridiculous go-ahead shot to beat tenth-ranked Duke last February: "I'm sure you get this a lot, but you're fucking awesome. Tomorrow morning when I eat my Cheerios and turn on the TV I expect to see you number one on SportsCenter's Top Ten."

I got all warm and tingly when Sean actually responded with, "Thanks for the love."

Last year, my friend Hamburgers and I drove to Columbus, Ohio to see Virginia play Tennessee in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. It was the first time Virginia made the tournament since 2001. Our sharpshooter, J.R. Reynolds, scored 22 points in the first half alone, but then got injured. Singletary tried to rally the team to victory, but unfortunately came up just short on the final shot.

At the game, Hamburgers got into some shit talking with a Tennessee fan in his fifties. Hamburgers got the final word when he made fun of the man's education with, "At least I didn't go to high school at the University of Tennessee, son!"

Digger Phelps Sucks
Digger Phelps holding yellow highlighter
Digger Phelps holding orange highlighterDigger Phelps holding blue highlighter


Anonymous said...

It was over a grand for the make a wish foundation...unless you took 300 off the top before you turned it in.