SU Grad and "self-hurt" guru Aaron Goldfarb is on the ground in NYC this week for the Big East Tournament. And I mean that literally, he is lying on the ground after a debauchery-laden evening in the Big Orange. These are his tales... (Read Part I here and Part II here)
I wake up sweaty and dehydrated. Hydration is impossible. I mean impossible. Five glasses of water, a 32 ounce chug of Gatorade, it doesn’t matter, total cottonmouth. What day is it? What round is it? Why is Fab Melo playing like Hakeem Olajuwan? Did I really ogle Doris Burke’s pumped-up calves last night?
The Big East Tournament gives you Memento syndrome. You can’t exactly remember where you are or what’s been happening. And, truth be told, a lot of Syracuse locals look like Joey Pants’s character in that flick. You can’t remember where the past is, can’t imagine what the future holds. You can’t remember a time when you didn’t spend all day devoted to basketball games. This must be what heaven, or hell, is like. Eternity with no escape. A loss or championship the only exit from this Mobius strip. A five-consecutive-days tournament will do that to you.
It gets worse considering how bad the Garden’s reception is and how awful iPhones are at doing everything but playing Angry Birds. My phone was unusable yesterday from 1:44 PM when I entered the Garden until around 11 PM. No emails, no texts, no calls, no ability to vaingloriously check whether TNIAAM commentators like this shit.
It’s sensory deprivation. Like being in the prison hole. Sure, a prison hole with 20,000 others and world-class hoops to watch, but a hole nonetheless. The only sense that matters is basketball. The cheers of the crowd, the stench of UConn fans around you, the taste of sweaty corporate beer. I think my last nine meals have been served to me by an overworked bartender or an aloof concessionaire. I’m starting to loathe buffalo sauce and nacho cheese. My mind is scattered, unable to focus, I should really just go back to sleep until happy hour. I think I could have a heart attack. I feel like Martin Sheen at the start of "Apocalypse Now." The horror. This is the end my friend.
Feile should really have pull-out beds hidden inside their booths. At last call they could just move the tables, pull the beds out, and I could go to sleep right there. I’ve been spending so much time sitting at that bar I’m getting bed sores on my ass. Someone needs to turn me. When I put my card down on Tuesday and the bartender said, "Keep it open?" I said, "Yeah. Until we lose."
This week you don’t even talk to your non-basketball friends. They wouldn’t understand. They’re in a meeting and you’re drinking beers and watching Kris Joseph get called for charges (Ed. Note: SO MANY!). These facts make them bitter. Kris Joseph’s charges make me apoplectic. You’re only hanging out with other men and women in orange. You see all sorts of pseudo-celebrities more than you see your own girlfriend. Not even pseudo-celebrities, but, rather, mega-celebrities. Just mega-celebrities of a very specific niche.
I grabbed a coffee next to Bilas and Raftery in the morning, legitimately ogled Doris Burke and her calves for several minutes at night. I considered asking for a picture with her, but couldn’t decide whether I wanted it for wink-wink ironic reasons or because I legitimately wanted one. Both options made me feel unsavory. Instead, I just surreptitiously clicked a photo of those pumped-up calves. Suffice to say, I couldn’t work for a pornography website that specializes in upskirts.
You occasionally see fans of other teams though far less than you’d think. Bandwagon St. John’s fans who truly gave a piss-poor showing yesterday afternoon. Pitt fans that seem to truthfully be actors portraying the stereotypical Yinzer. A stray Notre Dame fan with ashes still on their forehead from Wednesday (or perhaps that’s a bar stamp). Chintzy Louisville fans heading to Times Square to grab a family-style pasta meal at the kinds of restaurants where Rick Pitino likes to fornicate.
I’m so drunk I’m sober. I started drinking at 11 AM and now it’s midnight. I’m somehow still hungover from Wednesday’s drinking, drunk from Thursday’s drinking, and beginning to sober up as the clock turns over to Friday.
I spy Fran Fraschilla checking in late at my friend’s hotel. I decide to be a good journalist. I sidle up to him. He’s visibly worried I might get wing sauce on his beautiful Italian suit, that I might yak on his buffed Ferragamos. I slur:
"Hey, Fran, all the pundits are asking, ‘Can Kemba Walker play effectively in four games in four days?’ but why is no one wondering whether a 32-year-old novelist can drink heavily for four straight days and produce lucid thoughts about it for a highly popular Syracuse blog?’"
It’s now becoming quite obvious I can’t. What did I sign up for?
I seriously feel like I’m about to have a heart attack.
I 86 myself from the ritzy hotel before someone 86’s me themselves.
I wander outside. A waiting limo. I like my limos like I like my women: white and full of booze.
I ask the limo driver, "Whose is this?"
"Some TV guy’s."
"Can you take me uptown?"
It’s pouring rain, I don’t have a prayer to catch a cab.
The limo driver agrees. We head back to my apartment as I watch a replay of the day’s games on the limo’s TV, root around the minibar for something that isn’t alcoholic. Unfortunately, vodka seems to be the only option. At least it’s an orange vodka, that’s kind of healthy.
I can’t escape the Big East Tournament. I’m not sure I want to.
Aaron is the author of How to Fail: The Self-Hurt Guide, the world's first self-hurt guide. He was a 2001 SU graduate, lives in New York, and has attend the last 11 BETs. Follow him on Twitter: @aarongoldfarb