Every year there are four special days on the calendar. No, not Arbor Day silly, though I do have a growing appreciation for trees.
Those days are the "mancation" for me and four buddies. If you know me well, you probably have heard about this. Me and three buddies venture to some exciting city in the northeast: Buffalo, Albany, Bridgeport CT, and -- pinch me -- Trenton, NJ for the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference basketball tournament
The MAAC is one of those small school conferences you've probably never heard about whose team names are creatures or beings you've never heard of or will ever encounter. Golden Griffins, Purple Eagles, the Gaels. I went to Iona (home of the Gaels -- it's an Irish warrior, think Fighting Irish minus the Notre Dame). The other three guys didn't go to Iona, or any other MAAC school. And one weekend -- 10 years ago -- they apparently had so little to do, that they came to Albany, NY with me to watch teams (and creatures) they've never heard of to play basketball.
Ten years later, we are back. We have not missed a MAAC weekend since and we're not afraid to let it be known. We've labelled ourselves the MAAC Dadddies (I know, it's really lame. But it stuck). We've been written up in the newspaer (more than once in more than one city). We've had beers with coaches (and their mothers). We are known throughout the conference and, most especially, in the arena bars. We are not small time.
To illustrate what this weekend means to us, consider:
* My sister's birthday is March 4 and most years I'm the jerk little brother who misses her birthday five out of six years;
* One guy attended the tournament when his two-week old prematurely born son was still in the hospital. Oh relax, he was fine. Oh relax, the kid is six now and out of the hospital. He's lucky he popped out early, so that his Dad can be there on his birthday every year.
* Another MAAC Daddy had a mandatory regional manager's meeting that weekend one year. He blew it off.
* I lost my job two days before the tournament one year. Financial worries immediately set in and I ponied up for my share of the hotel and adult beverage consumption fund. I didn't eat for a month, but whatever. Beer has grains.
How bad is it? When I go to the arena in Bridgeport, CT -- a few miles from my house -- the bartenders, security guards and some random weird people say "Hey....where are the rest of the MAAC Daddies?" I guess it's our 15 minutes of fame.
I know what you're thinking. "Uh....why not go to South Carolina to golf? A trip to spring training or a five cities in six days baseball trip during the season?"
Let's put it this way....The year we first attended the tourney, we walked in a mostly empty arena on a Friday afternoon during a women's game. (Yes, we watch the women's games too. Sometimes.) There was a scramble for the ball, three players fell to the floor as timeout was called.
One of the guys, without thinking, yelled down to the court....wait for it...."Clean the wet spot!!"
That was the moment we knew we'd return every year forever. And our jackets were still on.
So while we might break our record for earliest beer consumed (9:38 a.m.) this weekend, please say a prayer for us. But think about your guy. (If you're a guy, don't to that. Think about your girl) Wouldn't he love four days away every year to blow off some steam and get the mancation he deserves.
Okay, fellas stop thinking about your girl. Or finish up. Either way, carve out your mancation today before you lose your mind. Oh, and clean the wet spot.