I'll have the TV in the man cave all to myself later today when the NCAA Tournament tips off. In fact, that'll probably be the case most of the weekend.
No more fighting for the remote, either.
I won't have to dodge a carpet of brackets spread out on the floor as I head to the fridge for another beer or bolt for the bathroom.
For a lot of us, the arrival of March Madness is a renewal of tradition--weekdays spent in a corner tap or sports bar with various friends or co-workers, enjoying a beer and hoping to see a state team do battle if we're lucky. These are days when productivity dives as sociability rises. It's an unofficial holiday for tavernkeepers,, a second St. Patrick's Day or New Year's Eve, times four: Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday full of fans, their insatiable thirsts and their endless appetites for anything deep fried.
To this dad, it's not so much Madness as it is melancholy.
The little boy that used to rule the roost as the NCAA's began is no longer asking me rapid-fire questions about who's going to win, which Cinderella is likely to emerge. He loved nothing more than an upset and hoped that, somewhere in his lifetime a #16 would beat a #1. The household printer would glow red thanks to the volume of various grids he'd print. They'd be spread out all over the floor in front of the TV along with an array of colored pens as he'd track the games for as long as he could watch.
The little boy who lived for March Madness is now a man, wrapping up his final semester at Marquette. Instead of cranking out brackets, he's now turning out movie reviews for OnMilwaukee.com at a break-neck pace.
And, he has a girlfriend.
Nothing changed, except time. It did what it always does. It marched on. It changed things. It altered priorities. It turned a young kid who lived for NCAA March Madness into a young adult with responsibilities.
Insert "Circle Of Life" from "The Lion King" here.
So the man cave is mine. The remote? I'll be in control. The kid will be in class, or at a screening, or behind his keyboard pounding out something for work. As it should be. Things change. Children grow. Traditions morph. Friday night, when I'm downstairs bleary-eyed and trying to stay up past eight p.m. to catch the late games, he's going to be in Chicago, catching "The Book Of Mormon" with his steady. Wouldn't have it any other way.
Of course, they're welcome to stop by on their way back to campus. I'm sure there'll still be a game on.