My former best friend Roy is famous across this great globe of ours (the greatest planet in the universe!) for some pretty funny commercials he’s been in, like the one in which he is sitting at a table next to a woman and appears to be telling her how much he cares for her; she hesitates for a moment and then, flushed, responds in kind. At which point “Paul” turns to her to reveal that he’s wearing a headset and is actually on the phone with someone else.
When I first saw that commercial I laughed on the outside like the rest of the world did, even Kim Jong Un, who had not yet inherited the North Korean throne and was more willing to allow his funny bone to be tickled. But deep inside, I was reminded of a dark period in my friendship to Roy:
It was back in the late 1980s, when the Big East ruled college basketball, and Roy and I were verbally sparring over whether marketeers (marketers with swords) would come to call the annual NCAA men’s basketball tournament “March Madness” or “The March of Champions.” I can’t remember who took which side, but suffice it to say that between us there were a couple of black eyes, a bloody nose, a split lip, and a ruptured testicle. This was the 1980s, when guys were rupturing testicles left and right.
One night during our crisis of friendship, Roy had a couple too many sloe gin fizzes and starting claiming that teams in the round preceding the final four were “The Great Eight,” and those in the previous round were “The Pristine Sixteen,” and those in the one before that were “The Ballyhooed Thirty Two.”
Of course, the NCAA adopted the names I came up with for two of those three rounds (Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight), leaving Roy winning just the Ballyhooed round. Needless to say, our friendship has never been the same.