And the madness begins


It’s St. Patrick’s Day, in case you missed all the random people wearing various shades of green today.

I’d thought it was tomorrow until I showed up to work; the bright green-and-rainbow-and-cartoon-leprechaun tie of a coworker across from me has disabused me of that notion.

But in our house, it’s a much different holiday.

It’s the first day of March Madness.

I didn’t know this existed until I started dating my husband. I filled out my first bracket that spring with many a “but I never even HEARD of this college, let alone their basketball team” complaint. I don’t remember what I did, I think I just followed the seedings.

His family posts their brackets on the inside of an entry closet door; after every game ends there’ll be a rush to the closet, as highlighters mark who was right and who was wrong. There’s a group on Facebook for siblings who live elsewhere, because everyone has to be a part of it.

Even stepsisters (which is what his youngest sister calls me, instead of in-law).

He’s planned his schoolwork around it, while saying he won’t watch much this year. Maybe he can outline his readings while keeping an eye on the TV, with the cable stretched across the floor to the front window, the only place our bunny-ear antennas can pick up reception.

And I? Well, I have the misfortune of a birthday right in the middle of the opening weekend of March Madness.

“I know,” he told me a couple of weeks ago, mostly joking but with a hint, I think, of hopefulness. “For your birthday we can set up the TV and watch basketball, do nothing but watch the games!”

And seeing as we watched the NBA playoffs during our honeymoon? Chances are at least a portion of my birthday will be spent with college basketball.

The weekend of my wedding shower we watched it, boring my visiting sister to the point of sleep when we negated her movie suggestion. (Did she see, I wonder, the looks of horror on the younger faces around the room? Movie over March Madness? Blasphemy!)

Since then I’ve accepted my bracket responsibilities, though it never turns out very well. This year I picked Florida: he’d picking KU, half his family will pick Pitt, and Ohio State likes to choke in the tournament. At least that what he says, and though he hates Ohio State with more passion than makes sense, he probably knows. So Florida it is. I have no idea if they’re remotely good.

Last year was an anomaly; our bunny ears couldn’t find CBS, and except from taking up an all-day residence in one of the many bars around here, we couldn’t watch any games.

He watched his Jayhawks lose in the upstairs of Culpeppers, and hasn’t wanted to go back since. He says it’s not a great sports bar, not enough TVs. I think he still associates it with that game.

This year, of course, there’s this little thing called a doctorate in the way. Papers and papers to write or grade or read and he keeps saying how busy he is but just how busy, I wonder, is busy when March Madness begins?

And I? I think I need a project, something to work on while I pretend to watch three-quarters of the game before actually paying attention for the last quarter.

And go Florida! I have a bracket to think about, you know.

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