Croutons, lard and rotary phones (Madness)


I’m going to step back here — get a little less serious.

Frankly, I’m not a serious guy. I’m so not serious that I find it difficult to believe any parents would name their son Frank Lee.

I also don’t understand a salad without croutons. Lettuce is OK, but the crunch factor provided by croutons is a must.

No croutons in your pantry?

I might let you slide with some crumbled crackers or Doritos. But not both.

And do people even have pantries anymore? Are they like rotary phones?

You know, grandma displayed them both with pride — her polished phone and her spotless pantry.

“Need to make a call?” she’d ask. “Come watch me methodically turn the slotted wheel on my phone.  Need a snack? I might have some Werther’s Originals in the pantry. Follow me while I grab them and point out all the other healthy options available to you. Just be careful not to knock over one of the 10 buckets of lard on the floor. I need that stuff.”

Pantries, rotary phones and lard. How I miss you.

When the three of you were a part of my life, everything was so simple. And croutons were always around.

That’s not the case anymore. Somewhere between He-Man’s final battle with Skeletor and Ruby’s last straw being pulled when Max left his right slipper in the kitchen, the world turned its back on croutons.

No, I’ll never get over it. But I will try and move on.

I’ve been trying.

But when something doesn’t go my way, my blame finger (left pinky) always points at how the world discarded croutons without regard. The world — and its lack of respect for a crunchy salad — is always at fault.DSC_0386

So, world, when I look at my NCAA tournament bracket, I blame you.

You’re the reason I didn’t go with my gut when I saw North Dakota State’s insanely high field-goal percentage matched up against an Oklahoma team that tends to rely on the 3-pointer too much. You’re the reason I let the Sooners slip through, thought they had favorable matchups through the rest of their region and would sneak into the Final Four. You’re the reason my bracket is busted.

Yep, Day 1 of the tournament, and I’m done. I’m like a crouton in a low-carb salad.

And that makes me sad.

The rest of my bracket is kind of nice to look at. My highlighter has touched the paper many more times than my Sharpie, meaning I’ve picked more games correctly than incorrectly.

I’ve nailed a couple upsets — both of which were the product of hours of studying, number-crunching and team-by-team comparisons. Ain’t no luck in my bracket, Andrew.

Name’s not Andrew? Then go watch the Indianapolis Colts. That’s right, my sentences all make sense.

They haven’t been croutoned, rotary-phoned or larded. Also haven’t been edited — like my tournament picks.

Wow, full-circle. That’s how I just brought it — like a cheerleader dominating the regional championships.

Too bad my regional championships will include, at most, seven teams and a thick blue line from the tip of my Sharpie. And we all know thick blue lines aren’t very good on the offensive glass, which is one of the keys to winning basketball games in March.

It’s also a key to winning games in November. Other months, too.

Like October or July or April or any month a basketball court is filled with players who are wearing shoes and dribbling balls — a condition that might require medical attention.

I’ve heard it’s caused by an abundance or lard, overused dialing fingers and crunch-less salad. Furthermore, there are no known cures.

And the best way to control it is to let the past go, forgive the world for its dismissal of your favorite salad topper and slide into a basketball-induced March coma.

When you wake up in April, the dribbling will still be there. But the madness that comes with it will nearly be gone.

Because, as sure as lard and rotary phones — and recognized through the lyrics of a band named after a state divided between three teams — dust is less common in today’s wind than yesterday’s crouton.

Or something like that.