Point of View: Suitable for Framing

“The sports story of the week.”

   What a long strange trip it’s been.  

   I’m talking, of course, about Mary’s uncanny success in The Press’s N.C.A.A. tournament pool.
    Although this is written before the final outcome is known, I think she’s already merited accolades. I told Cailin Riley, The Press’s sports editor, the other day that it was “the sports story of the week.”
    The fact is neither Mary nor I was eager to take part in March Madness inasmuch as neither of us knew what we were talking about. But don’t let that dissuade you, said my mother-in-law, who will bet on absolutely anything, and whose best results were achieved in her inaugural try, when she knew nada.
    With the deadline for submissions fast approaching, I ripped out the predictions of Newsday’s sportswriters and followed their advice down the line, including the upsets they’d forecast, and made out my bracket just to get it done and over with. Meanwhile, Mary deputized me to fill out hers also.
    I did, but later that day she called to say she was making some changes.
    Apparently, she was having second thoughts. And, as her suitable-for-framing final entry, replete with erasures, smudges, and X-ings out attests, she was having some third thoughts as well.
    This, I should add, is all well and good, for as the book on the brain I’m reading now says, our gut instincts are often wrong, and that it is only upon reflection that we can be said to be really thinking.
    In contrarian fashion, then, Mary went with the teams I hadn’t. And that was how she came to be at the top of the heap, bestriding numerous prostrate sports-savvy males, as Kentucky and Kansas prepared to meet in the championship game Monday night.
    “My father used to say that a $2 bet would get you off the fence mighty quick,” she says as we settle in for yet another televised roller-coaster ride.    And then, of course, there’s the head and the heart. Her heart said Chapel Hill and her head said Kansas in the quarterfinals, “though N.C. State was the key.”
    The downside to all of this is that I, an early casualty, have watched her undergo three — nay, four — meltdowns ending in utter despair in the past couple of weeks. On Sunday, I was left to keep vigil after she had, in her words, used her head (“Ohio State’s a better team than Kansas”) and had gone to bed.
    Around midnight, my partisan passions having been further inflamed by draughts of triple-distilled tequila (a birthday gift from my mother-in-law), I joyously took note that there was not a dry Buckeye eye to be seen throughout the Superdome and ran to give Mary the news that Kansas, which had trailed by as many as 13 points near the end of the first half, had come back to win 64-62, but she was sleeping the sleep of the blessed.
    What a long strange trip it’s been.