Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Agony of Defeat

"There would be no joy in Mudville, mighty Ace-y had struck out." 
--a midnight text  post NCAA-loss

I had my lucky rituals in place for last night's Game. I started the day with a lucky haircut. I wore my lucky shirt. But all day I had my doubts. Where would we be without the foolproof  Lucky Halftime Ritual?

The bad news was, the Ex was actually AT the game, and while my reach might be powerful, no, I don't think I could extend it that far. I was, of course, invited along but A. I was wildly over-committed with next month's Move, and B. I rationalized, the Lucky Halftime Ritual would not readily lend itself to the Dome anyway (although, if they'd had popcorn boxes where I could've rigged a fake bottom... Well, you get where I'm going. And if not, there's a documentary floating around out there on public television where I explain it. Contrary to popular belief, I haven't gotten kicked out of a movie theater yet [ have been asked to "keep it down"... and no one ever misses the Irony in that.])

It was a busy day, and I didn't get around to breaking the news to everybody til almost game time -- this was after words of encouragement had been trickling in since the Thursday game. "Lucky halftime ritual? Counting on you. Just sacrified a mountaineer." My cousin chimed in, "We can't afford to have you slip up now!"

I even got an emergency pre-tipoff-text from my Ring-Toss/Classmate Ex that said, "Put me in, Coach! A Nation of Millions is counting on you!"  Duly reported. The Nation roared. (And I considered it. For the good of the team.  I certainly don't have any Commitments with any of the Ex-es, but a little serial monogamy through the end of the Final Four dreams seemed the least I could do...) I acknowledged that, while the Bench (of Ex-es) is admittedly deep, it just seemed wrong to win like that. Many are called, but few are chosen.

But as the game turned desperate, so did the fans. One direct message read, "For God's sake, please take matters into your own hands. Would that count?" (No. That's not The Ritual.) I suggested that since there was an entire section of Ex-es in attendance at The Game -- most of whom are acquainted with the lucky halftime ritual (one of them I only dated during last football season, but the skills are transferable) -- they should've stepped up and taken one for the team.

My cousin said, "I'm holding you responsible for this....this disappointment which we have suffered."

As the Nation makes its way home though, I feel sure the day will be filled with happy "halftime rituals," and Reunions, and the healing will begin.

All I know is, Defeat is bitter, and I need something to get that taste out of my mouth.

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