Thursday, March 20, 2008

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

I remember exploding out of bed with the sunrise, my head spinning with giddy anticipation of the wonders Santa had brought me during the night. I’d race downstairs and dive into the biggest shiny box in sight. The following hours (or were they minutes) were a confusing collage of flying paper, electric sirens and a never ending array of delectable treats. But somewhere around the time I stopped playing with toys and realized Santa is probably not real, and if he is real he is some sort of master criminal, my excitement for Christmas waned to the point my mom had to wake me up for Christmas brunch (Is it still brunch if it’s after noon?).

While this adolescent shift is necessary I could not ignore the ominous feeling that life was less vibrant without this intense euphoria. The wonderment of the magical world children live in faded into a sober, boring reality. Then, just recently, I realized there is another event that has replaced this blind joy in my life: March Madness.

From Championship week to Final Four weekend my world glimmers with magic, dulling everything not associated with brackets. Santa always brought three or four presents covered in pretty paper. But the NCAA tournament offers 48 games to unwrap in the first weekend! Is it an upset? A buzzer beater!? Ooooh, goody gumdrops I’ve been ever-so patient. Please give me a floater in the lane for a win, followed by baseline three to knock off a 3 seed.

The same Cinderella surprises occur each year, but with new players, teams, and storylines. Every March evokes memories of tournament’s past. Can there be another George Mason this year? How ‘bout a backward over the head pass to a twin in the middle of an upset (Go UAB)? Wichita State (there the Shockers. Come on!), Creighton, The Salukis of Southern Illinois, Pepperdine. I have no proof these schools exist outside of March. Every bracket busted, every Goliath defeated, every hero born fills the atmosphere with a tangible electricity.

And, as if that’s not enough, what happens to land smack in the middle of March madness? St. Patrick’s Day. So in between 4 day marathons of watching games whenever conscious I can celebrate my Irish heritage by making a drunken mockery of it. Candy Canes and green and red M & M’s are replaced by Car Bombs and green beer. This is better than Christmas!

Maybe Santa is real, he’s just changed seasons. What did I get for March Madness this year? A boss on maternity leave. Goodbye productivity, hello webcast (Studies have shown productivity actually decreases in March. That makes me proud to be an American). Let's go Hilltoppers!

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