Thursday, February 12, 2015

Fun and Funner

So, yup, I've now done havoc.

I somehow got invited to a VCU Rams basketball game with three guys, two of them season ticket holders and rabid fans and one attending his first VCU game. Not to brag, but even I'd been to a VCU basketball game before (okay, once) and I'm the least athletically-inclined woman in Richmond.

We met at Ipanema to pre-game, which for them meant beer and pierogis, and for me meant white Rioja and our charming server's favorite salad of mesclun, orange, pomegranate seeds and nuts over grilled endive. Not everyone's idea of a pre-basketball meal, but pretty delicious to this non-fan..

Apparently it had been long enough ago since I'd been to a game that I didn't recall the VCU Peppas or the Goldrush dancers who were the entertainment every second that the team wasn't playing. And I use the term loosely because sometimes the extent of their entertaining was a handstand race across the court.

The game was far better entertainment. Having been raised by a mother who went to Catholic school in Washington, D.C., my sisters and I had been expected to understand basketball, much like the way my football-loving father expected us to knowledgeably follow that sport. For that matter, we had to play basketball in junior high and high school, so I also had that to fall back on.

It doesn't hurt that basketball is so fast-moving (no time to be bored) or that VCU has had such good teams the past few years (city pride). And while I wore a black sweater and a black, gold and orange skirt to show my allegiance, I was unprepared for the mass of black and gold that greeted me at the Siegel Center.

Of course I knew none of the ritual movements, songs or chants that everyone else seemed to know. Some questions (I had havoc as it pertains to the team explained to me) were directed at the guys I was with while other times I just watched what the fans did.  Luckily, clapping and cheering when VCU stole the ball or scored was instinctual.

During halftime, we milled around the practice gym where beer, wine and drinks were sold - sort of a giant beer garden - and people earnestly dissected the first half. I went to the ladies' room, where I found this delightful PSA on the stall door:

Even the horniest Rams are wary of condom slackers.
I mean, do we really need to wear a condom?

I think that message is petty clear.

Everyone sitting around us was an expert on what VCU was doing wrong - not enough interior defense, couldn't hit the ocean if they tried, running out of steam while LaSalle was not - except me. I just watched hopefully for a win.

But of all the unlikely ways for someone's first VCU basketball game to end, tonight's went into overtime. Twice. Still it wasn't enough because they lost.

Our quartet decided to drown our sorrows at Ipanema again, although this time I went with a pot of mint tea while the guys kept to suds.

As we drank and chatted, people began arriving in droves, alerting us to the fact that something was going on. Hello, karaoke.

A guy came in, bowed and doffed his hat at me, a guy I used to work with at Media General who had a posse of out-of-town account reps with him. Talking to him, as always, was a delight, from his insistence that he always checks Style Weekly for my byline to discovering we had some friends in common.

I'd barely finished chatting with him about what he planned to sing for karaoke when I spied another former co-worker who pulled me aside to say hello. It was turning out to be old home week with some of my favorite guys from my last real job.

Once the staff had cleared away the front booths, karaoke was ready to roll and people began signing up to sing. And not what I'd expected given the relative youth of the crowd, but oldies.

Songs such as "With a Little Help from My Friends," Cher's "Do You Believe" and "Addicted to Love," but also songs from their toddlerhood: "Santeria," "Baby Got Back," and "Slim Shady." And as they sang, the crowd kept growing, with more people signing up to sing.

One of the guys I'd come with decided to take advantage of his wife not being there and began ordering shots, stuff like Jameson's and B52s, stuff I wouldn't drink if you paid me. Besides, I was already on to my second pot of tea when I wasn't standing up to get a better view of the brave soul singing.

Walking to the back to get a better view of the crowd, the manager smiled at me and gestured toward the frenetic dancing and enthusiastic singing going on up front. All around us, empty beer cans and glasses littered the tables like so many dead soldiers.

"Just a quiet, little vegetarian restaurant where you can relax and have a nice pot of tea," he joked around midnight.

I'm no expert, but it looked like a lot like havoc to me. Thankfully, the only losses I saw were dignity.

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