March 18, 2013

I miss MKG: SEC 2013

A quote from a patient in the pharmacy on Thursday afternoon at 140pm:  I need a decongestant.  This thing right here says congestion relief, and I don’t need congestion relief.  I need a decongestant.

Hearing this was more painful than getting both of my eyes poked out and having my hair set on fire.  It was at this point on Thursday afternoon where I started counting down the milliseconds to the commencement of my annual girls’ trip to the SEC basketball tournament... and 4pm Thursday afternoon couldn’t get here soon enough.  Eight girlfriends were about to descend on Nashville, along with 20,000 other Kentucky fans, and there was nothing that could ruin my weekend... even a Kentucky loss (well, maybe a Kentucky loss could put a mild damper on things).

The trip started out with a snaggle, as I was the GPS commando and managed to direct us to the wrong exit and ended up at a “Rescue Mission” downtown.  But after finding our hotel, which was located directly across from the arena, and unloading seven bags for two girls (who were only staying three nights) into our surprise upgraded suite, the night began.  I should have known it was going to be a long first night when we were already ordering grilled cheese sandwiches, fries, tater tots, and macaroni and cheese at the bar... and it was only 9pm.  The night was a typical Nashville night as we went bar to bar and heard the classic country sing-a-longs of “Wagon Wheel,” “Big Green Tractor,” and “Family Tradition” a minimum of twenty times before the night was over.  I met a preacher who pulled a flask out of his front pocket, got beer muscles (a Coach Cal term) and challenged a random guy to a 40-yard sprint down Broadway, and got my picture taken with a married Tim Couch as he asked my friend for her phone number.  We went strong all night... and I was happily shocked when all 8 girls were in the hotel and accounted for by 3am, even though a few of them apparently took cabs back to our hotel which was a whopping 45 feet off Broadway.

Friday was the big day.  Game day.  One win... just one win... and Kentucky would secure their spot in the field of 68.  It took eight girls with two bathrooms only two hours to get showered and dressed... which I am sure has to be some sort of Guinness World Record.  It was a lazy afternoon as we had a leisurely lunch, and a few drinks prior to the game, including a “Go Big Blue” shot -- which was blue, of course.  It was mainly an afternoon for me to get mentally prepared for the game... it was time to focus.

Now retrospectively looking back, I can see why Kentucky lost to Vanderbilt Friday night... and it has nothing to do with how the team played:
**I did not wear my lucky UK Hanky Panky underwear.  Last year after UK beat Indiana in the Sweet Sixteen, I bought a pair of UK Hanky Panky’s from a street vendor in Atlanta as I was leaving the Georgia Dome (yes, it is perfectly normal to buy underwear from a street vendor in Atlanta).  This became my “lucky underwear” for the rest of the tournament and for the big games this year.  However, I was saving them this weekend for the SEC championship game... which I now realize was a mistake.  I needed to be wearing them Friday night... and I wasn’t.
**When the 2010 SEC tournament was in Nashville, I bought a hot dog in the Bridgestone Arena prior to every game.  As I was walking to my seat Friday night, the thought crossed my mind that it was tradition for me to buy a hot dog in this arena... but I was nervous and wasn’t that hungry.  I should’ve just bought the damn hot dog.
**And finally, a friend changed his seat halfway through the first half to come sit next to us, which broke “Watching UK games with Stacey” rule #94:  thou shall not change seats during the Kentucky game once the game has started.

So, like a sobbing Ryan Harrow after the game, I too, will take responsibility for the loss.  

During the second half, my friend summed it up best when saying “I’m going to need a splash of bourbon in my bourbon tonight.”  After the game ended, we immediately made way to a bar, where my friend and I claimed front row seats at the bar directly front of the bourbon selection.  There was no cell phone reception at this bar, which was probably a good thing for me at the time.  I needed time to decompress, get my thoughts together, and pray all the other bubble teams would play worse than we did.  It ended up being a great night, as I surrounded myself with 20,000 other disappointed Kentucky fans who were all drinking for the same cause.  

Now, this is where I would like to make an apology.  As the night neared the end, a large group of us made way to the Paradise Park Cafe to feast on the most amazing tater tots and grilled cheese sandwiches known to man.  There was a poor guy at our table, who for the sake of reputation will remain anonymous, that endured the “Wrath of Stacey” when he stated that he would prefer Kentucky to have 4-year players over the “one-and-dones.”  I’m not even sure I remember everything I said, but I’m pretty sure the University of Kentucky Office of Public Relations would have hired me on the spot if they were within an earshot of my rant.  So to this poor guy, I apologize... but don’t ever say something that stupid around me ever again.

However, that’s not the only memorable moment from the Paradise Park Cafe that night.  A completely random Kentucky fan (or at least I assumed he was a Kentucky fan since he was in a blue sports coat and blue bow-tie) sat down at our table.  Being the friendly people we are, we struck up conversation with this kid... only to get the quote of the weekend:  “I was UK student president... until I didn’t win.”  Really, dude??  Well, I was Miss America until I didn’t win.  That night all eight of us were accounted for by sunup, meaning it was another successful night.

Saturday came and went... and it was pretty depressing that we didn’t have a game and then had to watch Louisville come back to win the Big East Tournament.  But we made the most of it and early Sunday afternoon, we all said our goodbyes and vowed that next year we would reconvene in Cat-lanta for yet another amazing girls’ weekend... win, lose, or NIT.

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