Madness (one step beyond my room)

This is an exciting day.  It’s not just because College Basketball March Madness is one hour from starting.  It’s because I’ve convinced my wife that this day is so important.  I don’t have to work today.  Merely strolling out of our bedroom at 5 o’clock a.m. , feeding the cats and dogs, making her pancakes, replacing lightbulbs, AND doing dog and cat poop patrol is the only way to justify sitting on my butt watching the great games of college basketball.  When I pick up poop, it is madness.  Therefore, I deserve a reward.  Reward:  Lazy guy watching basketball.

Sadly, I have no money on any of these teams, but I am rooting for friends who do.  It really isn’t about the four dollars we toss in at the office for a twenty dollar payout, is it?  It should be about loving a sport and forgetting about the office and money for a few days.

March Madness is a great opportunity to bond with people.  At my former place of employment, we were forced to endure “team building retreats”, though we would have been better off just having a staff basketball pool.  Having to deal with office morale getaways from heaven made me want to descend directly to Hell.  You know, the ones where people want to gather, hold hands, and discover the essence of teamwork.  Just thinking about that made me excuse myself to the bathroom to vomit.  I don’t want to trust someone at some camp who catches me when I’m falling.  I want to be watching and betting on a game.  If every boss in this country would encourage gambling during this short stretch of days, morale would be uplifted to heavenly measures.  Employees would be happy…..therefore, those employees would work more diligently at the office for their employer after the madness ends.

I’m not encouraging gambling.  Most of the time, gambling is miserable.  Having something to root for is fun.  I lost a bet last night rooting for my friend, Tim.  It didn’t work out.  I missed out on his office March Madness pool because I waited two years to call him until I needed him.  Tim is a great man, and a good friend, but, ultimately, we have to bet on ourselves.  Ourselves are the ones we can truly count on.

Embrace the madness.

Characters and Character: Shayne (the Wing it Master)

This is not an obituary.  At least I hope it’s not.  That would be really embarrassing.  The fine man I’m writing about is, to my infinite knowledge, alive and still kicking peoples’ asses with his boots.

Many fabulous names and characters float through the sky as though they should be fictional.  This is, indeed, non fiction, making it that more special knowing this fabulous character who has fabulous character.

I don’t know how old I was when I met him.  I don’t know how old he was when we crossed paths.  He is the father of two friends of mine, Mike and Tracy.  His name was and still is Shayne.  His last name is Wing.  I often thought, “What story book did this guy appear in and how is he an actual super hero of mine?”

Allow me to describe this character with character.  Shayne Wing is a Viet Nam Veteran.  He served our country with terrific courage, and went further while serving his wonderful wife, Shirley.  He’s been a terrific father, perhaps a good husband, (that’s nobody’s business) a man of valor and quite genuinely, a friend to my brother, Tom, and me.

Shayne Wing stood for many things. He believed in his country and fought in circumstances I can’t even fathom.  He encouraged his sons to be good men.  They are.  He dominated youngsters on the basketball court which he built in their backyard with his own two middle fingers and a pair of cowboy boots.  But, there is one thing Shayne Wing could do which is more amazing than any character I have known or faced.  He was the only man capable of discouraging a young man known as Me from playing basketball.  This guy would work ten hours in cowboy boots, come home, not take off his cowboy boots, and proceed to demoralize the neighborhood boys playing on his court by scoring more points than all of us on that court.

During the offseason of baseball and football, the neigborhoodlams would gather at Shayne and Shirley’s court to play some basketball.  Shayne would eventually arrive and teach us some lessons on the court.  Quite naive, and watching basketball in an era where you witnessed a Bird in Boston, some Magic in Los Angeles, and a Doctor in Philadelphia,   a young man trying to emulate their moves and shots didn’t rise up to the guy in the boots.  That’s why I focussed on some things I was decent at……baseball and football.

Football season is officially over.  Baseball is on the way, but I still love the game of basketball……when it matters.  Shayne Wing made me appreciate what really matters.  It’s when you know a guy will fight for your safety, work an honest day, and provide enough for a family while having the energy to come home and play basketball with the neighborhood gang of misfits.  I hope he still has those cowboy boots, because they were made for shooting.