by Kaelan Hollon - 06/28/2005
** The following story is for entertainment purposes only and does not represent the lifestyle or opinions of it's author. All semblance to 'real' individuals is coincidental. This is narrative fiction. **
There is a rumor (its been said) that I just may be unstoppable. At least, in the wee hours of the night before dawn crawls through the window slats, once you put five or six whiskeys in me and some Waylon on the jukebox. When I get to drinking, I get to talking. And sweet Christ, you get me to talking, and there's more trouble afoot than a hippie taking acid at a tent revival. Good Kentucky bourbon will get me wilder than a peach orchard warthog after a good, wet, Spring. And when that happens, well…..it's not a real fine time to go placing bets, as I found out this past NCAA basketball season.
As a native daughter, I have an innate and genetic inclination to bleed blue. Combined with a little whiskey and homesickness, suddenly I was clambering onto a barstool in November after the Tennessee Tech game, voice shaking and eyes wet, vowing, "Lord, I know you don't appreciate my wayward habits, but I also know you love the Cats just as much as I do. I really need a W this year in the Final Four, so if you'll grant us a spot in San Antonio, I'll promise not to get nekkid up through March Madness."
The skies were silent, but deep down, I knew. So did my friends, who each put $40 on it right away; two that I couldn't hold out that long, two others that the Cats wouldn't make it past the first two rounds.
This is not a smart bet, for many reasons. Smart gamblers place bets they research, bets they can (more likely than not) win, and bets that they don't make while teetering on the four pegs of a bar stool with a lime stuck in her ear. And if you're going to make a proposition bet, for Gawd's sakes, make sure your team has at least made a Final Four appearance in this century. And never make a gamble with supernatural beings, who're likely not counting on the over-under and busier with more important matters (like purgatory, for instance).
But I was not deterred, though my Cats were more likely to start a midget at center than make it to the Finals last year. No, I was a Wildcat Argonaut, forging through the dirty floors of sports bars to face the Medusa that is Louisville basketball and that rotgut of a traitorous prodigal son, Rick Pitino. Coach K was my proverbial nemesis, my Goliath, and despite the paltry Kentucky Finals performance the past few years, my faith was strong. I knew Tubby would light the tunnel out of my unhappiness, defeat both Duke and Louisville soundly, and I'd cover $160 when the Cats hit the hardwood in San Antonio to pay for my troubles.
But then…..hindsight's a real sumbitch, isn't it?
This oily thorn of disastrous overconfidence left me hornier than a three peckered pup by mid-March. By the Utah game, my respective crew of Kentucky fans had rallied to an army of peach-basket addicts. You have not seen the likes of a swarm of Kentuckians stomping an unholy jihad in the caverns of Rupp Arena during March Madness, and when you transplant our basketball fury into a town as reserved and discomfit as Washington DC, we had way of making the locals nervous.
My ass was on the line here (figuratively and otherwise), and as Kentucky did their by-now trademarked slow burn to warm up on the March 27 game, my pupils were saucers to the television, a steady stream of projectile cursing flurrying out like vomit. I was a headless, Godless, monster, a geographically displaced embodiment of our loss in 1997 when cars were overturned and couches thrown out of windows in downtown Lexington after our loss to Arizona. The Michigan fans at the bar steered very, very clear from the bluestreaking hillbilly yowps echoing from the far end. Every so often we'd threaten death across the room, just to keep them honest.
And then the loss - a wallop.
A stillborn fumble of a game.
My heart has not sunk so low since Caywood Ledford left the airwaves.
I lost my proposition bet with God that afternoon, and I have not been to church since (not that I went before, but still….) For swearing off nookie for five months, attempting over and over to explain to my date why first base was as far as I could go until after basketball season -- this was all for naught. My lesson, from the 2004-2005 UK basketball season, was a menagerie of gambling lessons we could all probably take to heart for the long term.
1) Don't bet when you drink.
2) Don't bet against God.
3) Don't stand on bar furniture when you bet (attracts the attention of people looking for easy money).
4) Don't bet your local pride on a team that, let's face it, 'prolly isn't going to make it in the first place until they get their recruiting under better control.