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Today, a Cooler salute to March Madness, the only thing in American culture that never disappoints.
The Super Bowl can disappoint.
The World Series can disappoint.
The NBA Finals can disappoint.
Let's not restrict it to the sports world.
The Oscars can disappoint, especially if Salma Hayek decides to no-show.
TV can disappoint, not unlike the turn of events when Alan Alda wrested creative control over "M*A*S*H."
But March Madness can never disappoint. I knew this to be true when Bob Knight was seen on the sidelines of the Big 12 tournament final wearing a sweater festooned with logos, as if he were a PGA Tour player, a NASCAR driver or just a large, black object that spewed profanity whilst endorsing an auto parts store. It was a sight to behold and augured that the NCAA Tournament this year will be packed with surprises.
I also knew the truism of March's beauty when the University of Utah team was seen awaiting its selection while resting on beanbag chairs.
Beanbags! In Utah! Who would have thought the Beehive State could be retro-hip, especially when its state nickname is the same as a woman's hairstyle that will never be retro-hip. Excepting, of course, B-52s album covers, where the beehive is retro-hip. But the B-52s are from Athens, Ga., and the Georgia Bulldogs didn't even make the NCAA tourney, so that's that.
See? The Madness isn't confined to the court. It seeps into The Cooler, where irrelevant tangents are as common as buzzer-beating 3s.
I love it all: The fear a No. 12 seed strikes into a No. 5 seed's heart; the way a neutral crowd in Boise or Syracuse or Charlotte suddenly adopts the underdog who hangs into the second half; and, in a nod to my age's creeping into the late 30s, I also love fresh-faced cheerleaders with bulldog paws painted on their cheeks, bouncing ponytails and ... well, I'd better stop there. I am beginning to sound like the Official Lecher of March Madness.
In a nod to the beautiful season, let's turn the Weekend List of Five into the Top Five Seeds of the Weekend:
Top Seed: Green Basketballs for Everyone
Ancient pagan cultures are responsible for our seasonal holidays, right? Wintertime, they celebrated with lights to combat the darkness. In the autumn, they celebrated with feasts to celebrate the harvest. Nice touches.
There can be, however, no pagan equivalent for the majesty of the vernal celebration set to ensue this Thursday: The First Day of March Madness, On the Same Day as St. Patrick's Day.
This is the Halley's Comet of party situations. I know it's happened a few times in the recent past, and it always elicits in me the same feeling unfettered, orgasmic joy. I've spoken of "Cooler Day" in the past, and it's always the Monday that encompasses Opening Day in baseball, the NCAA championship game and the first day of Masters week. But when St. Patty's falls on the same day as the first day of March Madness, that's Uber-Cooler Day.
If you do not somehow lie your way out of work that day; if you do not retire to a local Irish pub that features multiple TV sets; if you do not soak in the glory of this day to its fullness ... well, then, dear friend, your life will be a poorer thing.