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The Big East Tournament Is Decadent And Depraved - Part I

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SU Grad and "self-hurt" author 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...

I wake up early because I know I have to get all my work done before noon. Unfortunately, I usually have a hangover til noon because of all I’m doing after noon. It’s Big East Tournament week which turns the City That Never Sleeps into the City That Doesn’t Work. Sure, some dweeb businessmen cart a laptop into the Garden during early round games, but as any one who has tried to quickly Tweet something derogatory about the Philly Flash during a game can attest, The World’s Most Famous Arena also has The World’s Slowest WiFi.

Even when Syracuse gets byes, or double byes, or first round bye-byes, I can’t help but watch every single game and total torpedo the productivity of my week. I don’t know what it is, but the minute UConn/DePaul started at noon on Tuesday I was done with work for the day. By late afternoon I’d migrated to midtown to mingle with the few Rutgers and Seton Hall fans that weren’t ushering, the world’s only USF fan, and early arriving Yinzers wondering what was up with all the shitty bars only serving shitty craft beer.

"Nine dullars fer a bier? Its not evn Eyurn City. Why don't they sull Eyurn City hir?"

My 300 pound Samoan attorney running mate at every year’s BET is actually a 180 pound carpet salesman, one of the best on the East Coast from what I understand. He annually ropes his company into expensing several booklets of tickets and countless fingers of high-end Scotch for a few clients and potential customers he needs to entertain during the week. I am one such "potential customer," despite the fact I haven’t lived nor worked in a carpeted dwelling in a decade nor plan to. I fear the day his company’s accounting department calls him in and asks if the marginally successful novelist he’s been entertaining on the company dime for the past decade is ever gonna pull the trigger on some flooring.

The two of us have had countless highlights over the years but the most notable was a Thursday in 2009. My carpet salesman’s clients actually wanted tickets to the highly anticipated Syracuse/UConn quarterfinals and was left to find a ducat for myself. Luckily we’d started drinking exotic craft beers at 2:00 and by 7:00 I had the dipsomaniacal gumption to start trying to pick up pre-gaming women in midtown bars--for their extra tickets. Surprisingly, it worked (the backwards Otto hat always charms), and three darling Nova fans gave me an extra they had. Suffice to say, as we walked arm-and-arm-and-arm-and-arm into the arena, they weren’t thrilled to hear scalpers offering $250 for that same scrap of paper. The dropped looks on their faces told me that, were I to get into prostitution, I’d have to charge less than that price point.

Nevertheless, after I bought them a few Labatt Blues--the official Canadian arena beer of Syracuse fans everywhere--and after we watched The Greatest College Basketball Game Ever, all was forgotten. Euphoric in joy, sobered up being that MSG’s last call for brews was some two hours before the game actually ended, we headed to Stout to aggressively tipple as many drinks as my carpet salesman could legitimately put on the company card before AmEx’s fraud protection services rang the bar.

By 4 AM I found myself back in a Park Avenue hotel room with the three girls, polishing off overpriced mini-bar Toblerones and impromptu Grey Goose and Ocean Spray cran-whatevers. Drinking enough that going six overtimes myself would have been a clear impossibility, though, even in such an inebriated state, I wasn’t going to blow such easy lay-ups. I am not Paul Harris.

I awoke at the crack of dawn feeling like I’d taken a shotgun blast to the head. Still reveling after watching the greatest event ever in the history of tattooed pituitary cases placing round objects in peach baskets, I triumphantly walked up Broadway, a slight limp in my gait from a groin pull which I’m not certain whether I acquired during or after the game. Still wearing my beer- and sweat-soaked team logo hat and T-shirt from the previous night, I received countless compliments from early-rising tourists and high fives from doormen for picking such a grand school to matriculate at. But, I didn’t have much time to recover back home on my couch, a sack of ice on my crotch, watching back-to-back replays of the game on ESPN Classic, for I had to head back to the Mecca that evening for the Syracuse/West Virginia semifinals tilt.

To say that Friday was a tough one would be putting it mild. My brain was absolute mush. Comprehending a menu was tough, remembering how to take the subway tricky, understanding the rules of basketball an impossibility. My trademark wit was sapped from me and I had become a retarded dullard on par with Charly Gordon with a jaw full of Novocaine. I couldn’t even get my brain to execute the hand-eye coordination needed to simply clap my hands together after a made basket. Luckily, Syracuse still won that night. Unluckily, I still had to attend a championship game the next day and all the pre- and post-gaming that surrounds it. Seriously, sometimes by the end of Big East Tournament week you just wish your team would lose already and you could get back to your normal life.

And, that’s my point. This is truly a week like no other in the sporting ecosystem of New York City. Now while I’m no rube or huckleberry like a lot of the fans from opposing teams that infest the city for the week, this is still a week I look forward to every year, and one that rarely disappoints. Though one that always punishes your liver, bank account, and soul. It’s only Wednesday morning, Syracuse is still 28 hours from their first tip-off in the 2011 tournament and and I already feel like garbage after just one measly round of games. I must be getting older.

More memories are about to be made and quickly forgotten.

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