Sunday, March 22, 2009

Bald-Headed Malaise

While most of America is celebrating March Madness this weekend, I've recruited college basketball commentator Dick Vitale to talk about a lesser known malady that overcomes people this time of year known as March Sadness. Take it away, Dickie V:

I have awful news for you today, America. Not awesome, baby. Awful. Everyone gets pumped for college basketball right around this time of year, but not me. It just gives me another opportunity to be reminded how much life ultimately sucks. I have a condition called March Sadness, baby, and I suffer from it every day of March.

I put on a face for the cameras. I yell, hoot, and holler my way through games at campuses all over the country. Everyone sees me as this jovial figure who is happy all the time. Not so, baby. In actuality, I find constant reminders in the game of college basketball as to how fleeting this life is, and it depresses me deeply. I first came down with March Sadness in 2000. I was getting ready to do analysis for the Florida/Michigan State championship game. As I was going over my notes and practicing yelling nonsensically at the top of my lungs, an overwhelming feeling of pain rushed through my heart. As I poured over game tape of Mateen Cleaves and Mo Peterson being sensational, I began to realize how futile life really is, baby. The thought of those guys leaving college, never to return, made me think about my one Aunt who had diabetes. I immediately took my phone off the hook, crawled into my warm bed, and ate chocolate ice cream straight from the carton for the rest of the day.

At the Final Four a few years back, I was interviewing Jim Boeheim about his diaper dandy, Carmelo Anthony. I was literally screaming in Jim's face about how fantastic this guy was, how amazing, how scintillating, how sensational, how outstanding he was. When I realized I hadn't actually asked Jim a question, I said, "Baby! How great is it to have a stud like that for four years, baby?" Jim looked at me and said, "Well Dick, it would be nice, but I'm pretty sure Carmelo's going to leave for the NBA after his freshman season."

The smile on my face disappeared, and my whole tone changed. "But Jim," I asked, "How can you carry on while knowing that you're going to lose this precious gift of yours so soon? Is he not a constant reminder of the fragility of our own mortality? Doesn't he make you yearn to hold onto all that you once lost? I can't imagine how hard it must be for you to look at this beautiful talent being taken from you, and how you have to fight the urge to jump in front of a truck at the hopelessness of it all, baby!"

Before I could finish, he retreated to the locker room, and security asked me to leave.

When Shane Battier was at Duke, I remember telling everyone how special he was. And he was. He was so, so, special. If he was on the menu at Quiznos, they would have called him a Special Sandwich. Just the most special person who could ever lace up his sneakers in an NCAA sanctioned event. He was so special, in fact, that he made me wonder whether or not anyone so special would come along to take his place. The answer? A resounding no. He made me think: if that's the most special person I would ever witness play basketball, what's the point of continuing? I'll never find someone as special as him. The crushing blow his graduation left to my heart never allowed me to get close to a special player again. Sure, other special players came along, but no one could ever be as special as him. Score another victory for March Sadness over Dickie V, baby.

Everyone loves an upset. The masses love to see those special kids from Valparaiso, Coppin State, and Princeton pull of stunning victories when no one thought they had a chance. Most Average Joes think there's nothing better than seeing a 14 seed beat a 3. Well, not to me. While some find it scintillating to see a Cinderella story, it just reminds me of how once great forces can be stopped suddenly, with no warning. I'll be honest, whenever I see a major school lose, I grow somber, as it reminds me of the events of 9/11, baby.

The whole thing is just a huge metaphor for tragedy. Bracketology? More like I'll-Never-Know-Happiness-ology.

I suppose I could take medication for my affliction. But sometimes the pain I feel is the only thing letting me know that I'm human. There's only so much Xanax that can halt the stunning realization that one day my bones will be dust, baby. The Reaper is rapidly approaching for me. Look at me. I'm an old man. You might as well call me a diaper dandy, baby, based on my uncontrollable incontinence.

In closing, I'd like to say that life is truly pointless, and nothing reminds me of that more than this bracket I fill out every March. My life is in complete shambles due to the utter and inescapable depression that rushes through my heart every day. All I can do is ask God why he is such a cruel Lord who teases us with fleeting moments of joy and ecstasy while punishing his beauteous creations in the long term with constant sadness, pain, and yearning. I can only pray that I be allowed to perish in my sleep, humbly and quietly, as soon as humanly possible.

Part of me thinks I'd feel a whole lot better if I just got a toupee.

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