Marching Out of Madness (Without Grace)


Years ago, I loved to gamble, and I did quite a bit of it.  And, I can honestly say I was pretty crummy at it.  It never became an addiction, just a hobby.  You know, one of those hobbies where you take c-notes (one hundred dollar bills) wad them up into little balls and toss them into a dumpster, hoping one lucky bum will find them.  Since I wasn’t married, had no children, and it was my money, I figured it was okie dokie.

I don’t know why, but I lost interest after a while.  It’s been years since I’ve even had the urge to place a wager on a pony (unless it’s the Kentucky Derby) or a professional team.  However, if you call filling out a college basketball bracket and handing someone twenty dollars “gambling”, well, then I’m still a pretty lousy gambler.

This year, as millions of others did, my wife and I participated in a pool of drowning bettors wishing to win a small sum of money and a dash of pride during college basketball’s March Madness.  The name is appropriate.  Although this month of sporting excitement can be loads of fun, it can also be wildly maddening.

People all over the country brag about their tournament picks before tipoff, and shortly after tipoff, those same people are ripping the piece of paper displaying their senseless decisions into millions of embarrassing shreds and then burning them out of recycling spite.  This is the dark path gambling can take you.  (It’s a felony in the states of Oregon and Washington, amongst others, to burn paper.) No, I’m not referring to myself.  I’m far more environmentally conscience than that.  Not wanting to waste a piece of paper, I keep all my picks on my computer.

Wishing to explain the process in not too much detail, I will merely say that in our group of imbeciles, one must attempt to choose all of the winners in a sixty four team college basketball bracket, including the champion before the madness begins.  Points are gathered along the road, and you want to have the most wins, especially the champion.  This is not an easy task, but most semi-intelligent gamblers can have fun throughout most of the three week tournament, hoping to be victorious.

Whatever the grade below semi-intelligent gamblers is, I’m a member even below that one.  Even though my wife and I picked the teams collectively, she wanted me to pick the champion.  As the man who wears the cargo shorts in the family, I should have demanded she choose the winner.  But, I deferred to her suggestion and chose with every ounce of knowledge I didn’t possess.  As a result, I did not choose wisely.  The team I chose to win the national championship was out the first day of the tournament, thus leaving us a 2 and 1/3 million to one chance of winning the pot of greens at the end of the tournament.  Since my wife and I were in this together, we were watching our team go down like a barn in a cyclone.  Ironically, our team was the Iowa State Cyclones.

During the game, even though it was close, I could sense the Cyclones were destined for failure, and as much as I tried to summon the gambling Gods and ask for advice on how I could possibly place the blame on my wife for this devastating loss, the prayers were answered by the Gods telling me to shut my pig headed mouth, and keep the remote in her hands.  Because gamblers are remote controls’ worst nightmares for fear of being smashed or tossed into a far away land, I followed part of their advice.  I handed the remote control to her, but I couldn’t keep my mouth shut.  Before officially marching out of madness, I released an “F-Bomb”. It was a bomb men, women, children and animals could hear all across our zip code.  Usually, I reserve these for the golf course, or any place where my wife can’t hear them.  Following the obscenity, I then marched right outside the house, because I knew that’s where the woman wearing the cargo pants in our house would send me.  Just because you’re old enough to gamble, it doesn’t mean you aren’t a child.

March Madness is officially over for us, and so are the “F bombs” from me.  But, baseball is right around the corner, and believe me, if you hear an “F bomb” floating around the Pacific Northwest, just check the Seattle Mariner box score for a loss, and know these ones are not resonating from me, but from my lovely counterpart.  During baseball season, these are tossed around our house like salad, and it gives me a little ammunition for the next time I gamble on anything.

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