In honor of the annual NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament getting underway, here’s a throwback to the 1999 tournament …
That was the year I had Keenan Riley (age 4) and Griffen Riley (age 3) fill out a bracket based entirely on my reading them only the names of the team mascots.
[Editor’s Note: Keenan (aka Bean) could not say “brother” but he could say “brubber” which, of course, was immediately shortened to Brubs for most of Griff’s childhood.]
[Editor’s Note Number Two: Now is also a good time to point out that while both of these knuckleheads went to college on all kinds of academic scholarships, Keenan was that kid who always thought things through, did his research, was always very even-keeled, etc. In fact, Keenan was sent to Time Out exactly once in his entire childhood, and before anybody could even get up to put him there, he simply dropped his head and walked himself over and sat himself on the bench — patiently swinging his feet until he’d served his time. He was two. Griff? Call the damned SWAT team — he’s taken the dog hostage, has a three-day supply of nuggets and Capri Suns, and has barricaded himself in the bedroom again. 😐]
Me: “Okay, ready? Game ONE! (they look at each other in excitement. Brubs hugs Keenan) … The BLUE DEVILS (their eyes get wide) … against the RATTLERS!”
Keenan: (furrowed brow) “What’s a rattler, Daddy?”
Griff: (always following his big brother’s lead) “Yeah, what’th a Wattler?”
Me (eyes bugging): A SNAKE! (hissing, for effect)
Griff: “Oooooooooo! (insert his own furrowed brow) Wait, what’th a Bwoo Debil?”
Keenan: “It’s a devil, Brubs — you know, the bad guy, church stuff.”
Me: (Wait, church stuff?)
Griff: “Oh oh oh! Bwoo Debils! BWOO DEBILS! Wait, why is he bwoo?”
Keenan: “Hmmm, I think a snake can kill a Blue Devil, Brubs.”
Griff: “It’s the Debil, Keenuh! And he’s BWOO!” (then emphasizing his point by flashing his teeth and holding his hands like claws)
Not sure where he got the claws part, but perhaps we should sit closer to the back on Sunday.
Keenan: “Brubs, snakes can have fangs and … ”
Ohhboy — what have I done here?
Me: “Okay, guys, guys: how ‘about we go with the Blue Devils? Bean, you get to pick the next one you guys don’t agree on. Okay?”
They look at each other and shrug.
Me: “Okay, next up! The WILDCATS! (excited eyeballs again) And the (voice drifting off) … Sooners.”
Sigh. This isn’t exactly going as I’d hoped.