Thursday, February 9, 2012

Shooting for a happy ending.

It happened again last night.

The miracle comeback, the last-second game winner, the victory attained despite insurmountable odds.

America's cotton industry claims to be purveyors of the fabric of our lives, but I contend otherwise.

Wednesday evening, the Duke Blue Devils men's basketball squad, trailing North Carolina Tar Heels by ten points with two-and-a-half minutes to play, staged a fierce comeback, culminating in Austin Rivers' contest-clinching three pointer at the buzzer.

I think it's why I love sports so much—the hail Mary pass into the endzone with no time left, the bases loaded, two-out homer in the bottom of the ninth.

If I hadn't been fully familiar with this storied Atlantic Coast Conference rivalry, I may have thought I had stumbled upon some sort of bayou reality show where the leathery, middle -aged Tar Heel trolls the black pits of Carolina hoping to gaffe the elusive Blue Devil Crawdaddy.

Out west here, we've got nicknames like Bears and Huskies. Down south, I'm not sure how a soiled, exposed foot and a demon in need of the Heimlich are meant to intimidate the opposition, but things below that Mason-Dixon seem to swirl in a different direction.

After watching the game with my daughter and marveling at its fantastic finish, I decided that, while I don't intend on stopping, I shouldn't feel compelled to vicariously experience the endorphin rush of a last-second win through a big screen surrogate.

I reprimanded myself. "Come on, man. You're pushing fifty. You've definitely had numerous experiences of siphoning the sweet, musky nectar of victory just prior to its permanent departure down the esophagus of defeat."

And it's true; indeed I have.

I've encountered numerous happy endings, and most of them didn't happen anywhere near Bangkok.

Have you ever bought a headlight lamp at the local auto parts store, and as he's ringing you up, the guy says, "Do you need help installing that? Because I can just follow you out to your car and snap that thing right in."

"No thanks, I've got this one."

"Hell, no, you're not following me out there," I think. "If I say yes, I might as well admit that sure, I would appreciate that, because I need to get home look for my balls before it gets dark."

After seventy-three minutes in the Napa parking lot, six bloody knuckles and four customers who think I've got Tourette's, my vehicle possesses two working headlights. I beat my chest gingerly as I guide the minivan out of the parking lot and salute the cashier guy as he helps a guy with some wiper blades. Victory.

Prior to the advent of the GPS, the most emasculating invention since hard lemonade, I highly prided my self on my automotive navigational prowess—also known as "Of course I know how to get there."

My wife, ever the patient bride, would typically allow a couple of wrong turns prior to insisting on the epitome of male humiliation—the gas station direction inquiry. "I don't think you know where you are and we're going to be late. Let's find a gas station."

If only she knew the depth to which that dagger delves. To this day, she has yet to grasp the gravity of such a demand. Each occasion she insists upon pulling into the ARCO is another bucket of water to that Wicked Witch of the West in my pants.

Failure is not an option, so I stay the course among the shrill protests from both back seat and front.

And when I execute one last stand, one final right hand turn and our destination miraculously looms ahead...'s known as paydirt, a last ditch, all-in, lunge which this time has resulted in glory. I spike the imaginary ball, I cut down the proverbial net, I round the bases and stomp on home plate among a throng of delirious teammates.

Well, they're not really delirious, but at least they're not yelling anymore.

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