What would happen if America’s biggest complete day of sports coincided with the world’s biggest day of drinking?
The question sounds like a psych experiment, or the first words in a preview teasing some CBS made-for-TV flick (“Spring Break Shark Attack” — are you kidding me?). But this scenario definitely never seemed like something that could actually play out on the stage of real life and, by doing so, shed some light on my youthful curiosity — it’s just too outrageous to be true.
A few weeks ago, though, when plans of drunken tomfoolery in honor of the world’s greatest snake tamer were in the making, it came to my attention that an answer to my all-important question awaited me on March 17, 2005: A date that would make drinking mandatory and would boast the first full slate of NCAA tournament games; a date that would bring together green beer and Jim Nance; a date that I knew would most likely take on a measure of FDR significance and live in infamy.
I woke up from a three-hour slumber at around 6:45 a.m., on Thursday and headed right to The Brown Jug. Upon arrival, I was immediately greeted by a few Nutty Irishmen, though neither Regis Philbin nor Kerry Collins was present (Ba-zing!). Being that it was five hours until tipoff, the boob tube above our table offered minimal entertainment value — after a few car bombs, the TI-86 channel (that hidden gem in the static zones of Ann Arbor cable that broadcasts linear algebra problems 24/7) became must-see TV.
While I was chomping at the bit for CBS college basketball’s signature tune to whisk me away, for most people, the tourney seemed to be a distant afterthought in a world of green eggs and inebriated pinching. This crowd definitely did not lack the spirit and passion definitive of the tourney’s commencement, though, as fervent cheers of “Kim, Kim, Kim” (our waitress) brought March Madness intensity to the Jug’s rear table section.
When I left the Jug at around 11 a.m., I wasn’t sure if I could take the 100-minute wait until tipoff. (Truthfully, after numerous pitchers of clover-tinted Miller Light and a smorgasbord of liquor concoctions, I can’t say I was quite sure of anything.) Just like during my old days of Sunday morning church service, I was positive that the waiting game would make me lose my mind. Seriously, how would I pass the time? …
I awoke face down in my bed three hours later with shoes on my feet, a half bottle of toothpaste in my ear (see: “shoes on my feet”) and my housemate’s foot in my posterior.
“Turns ins yours paper, buddy — yours class starteds a half hours agos,” Tal (who’s actually moderately sized, and therefore poorly named) slurred repeatedly.
After a pre-class check-up in the C.C. Little bathroom revealed my auditory fluoride hindrance, I performed a quick cleanup (obviously missing the toothpaste covering my collar), threw on the aviators and hit my discussion. I promptly discovered that my classmates were not laughing with me, but rather at me. And with thoughts of “dipsy doos” and “dunkaroos” flooding my mind (for some reason during downtime in the classroom my brain attempts to quell boredom by referencing random Dickey V outbursts), class quickly lost its luster. My plan had been to bring a radio and conceal one ear’s iPod headphone by streaming it though my long sleeve shirt and placing my hand over my ear. In doing so, I wouldn’t miss a second of tourney action. But that scheme had disintegrated along with my brain cells during the early morning Jug session.
Looking back, the initial scene following class on South University Avenue was awkward. Not because I almost tripped over two girls mounting a drunken mass of man on the sidewalk — and not because, upon further inspection, this drunken mass of man lives two steps from my room. This situation took on a certain outlandishness when another friend nearby informed me of UW-Milwaukee’s upset win over Alabama, and my instantaneous joy (I picked the Panthers to make a Sweet 16 run) caused me to completely disregard the ridiculousness of the scene at my feet. Again: My housemate was laid out on the South U. sidewalk with two girls mounting and yelling at him, in the broad daylight. And once I was informed of the tourney’s first true bracket buster, I didn’t even think twice about maybe the drunkest of drunk in-public scene I’d ever witnessed. Weird.
As always happens, the UW-Milwaukee upset became much less about the Panthers than about the supposed geniuses who had picked the Panthers. The St. Patty’s Day juice did seem to heighten the I-told-you-so mentality, though.
For those who decided to fully celebrate St. Patty’s Day, late afternoon games separated the true college hoops fans from those who just desired a quick buck in bracket gambling, as extended catnaps ran rampant. When I attempted to summon my comatose housemate for the somewhat-exciting conclusion of the Utah-UTEP game, he could only offer some sort of drunken, dream-state monologue.
After I woke up from a catnap of my own during the break in tournament action, my housemates convinced me that it was somehow still Thursday, and I tried my hand at some beer pong during the dull slate of night games. After a quick run to the bars, the night finally wound down with bracket comparisons and the praising of Andrew Bogut.
So, what happened when America’s biggest complete day of sports coincided with the world’s biggest day of drinking? I’m not really sure and can’t truly recall much of what happened in the tourney’s true opening day. A plethora of embarrassing and hazy episodes confirm my prior assumption that the day would boast moderate levels of infamy … and also verify assured success in my attempt to honor the world’s greatest snake tamer.
Gennaro Filice can be reached at email@example.com