Are you wearing your green today?
As you probably know, today is St. Patrick's Day. Seeing as how it fell on a Sunday this year, perhaps more than a few of you celebrated the holiday Saturday night. If so, by all means enjoy your extra dose of Advil this morning.
My family has Irish roots, and I've always embraced that.
I find Ireland - aka "The Emerald Isle" - fascinating and am looking forward to visiting there one day. Like any good Irish boy, I enjoy potatoes (though I prefer mine fried and salted). Conan O'Brien has long been my favorite late night comedian. I often lose my temper and engage in fistfights with staff writer Matt Bruce. (He always wins.)
However, despite my Irish proclivities, I've never been very fond of St. Patrick's Day.
For one, all those shamrocks remind me of the Boston Celtics, the sworn enemies of my beloved Los Angeles Lakers.
(By the way, what should you do if you find three Boston Celtics fans buried up to their necks in cement? Get more cement.)
But, the main reason I've never been a big fan of St. Patrick's Day? Pinching.
In one of the oddest traditions of any holiday, those who don't wear green on St. Patrick's Day often get pinched. It's the only day of the year in which the misdemeanor crime of simple assault is readily allowed and, in fact, encouraged.
When I was in third grade at Abbeville's Greenville Street Elementary School, I forgot to wear something green on St. Patrick's Day. Needless to say, I was pinched. Oh, how I was bombarded with pinches.
I was pinched (or as it was pronounced in Abbeville/Calhoun Falls-area lingo circa 1987, "peenched") over and over and over again. It was a harrowing, pinchtastic experience.
While I never again forgot to wear something green on St. Patrick's Day, I think The Great Pinching of March 1987 soured me on the "holiday" for life.
In fact, I wouldn't mind if we stripped it from the calendar and replaced it with a new March holiday.
I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "Chris, Sugar Bear, what kind of new March holiday are you talking about?"
First of all, don't call me Sugar Bear. Second, if you keep reading, you'll see what kind of new March holiday I'm talking about.
THE FIRST DAY OF THE MEN'S NCAA BASKETBALL tournament should be a holiday.
And not just a Valentine's Day/St. Patrick's Day "on the calendar" kind of holiday. I'm talking about a full-blown federal holiday, with schools closed and the government shut down.
No one should have to work on the first day of March Madness.
There's something undeniably great about the NCAA tournament, aka "The Big Dance," our country's annual celebration of the beautiful game of basketball.
Buzzer beaters. Slam dunks. Underdogs. Mike Krzyzewski's haircut. And, of course, brackets. Sweet, lovely brackets.
Just as St. Patrick's Day gives people an excuse to maliciously pinch each other, March Madness turns everyone into degenerate gamblers. If you follow the tournament, chances are you have filled out a bracket and entered a "pool" with your friends or with the folks at your office.
Everyone's got a bracket. Your grandma will probably fill out a bracket. Your preacher will likely be in a bracket pool. Heck, your Gamblers Anonymous sponsor will probably have a bracket.
It happens every season. People who haven't followed college basketball all year suddenly become Jimmy the Greek during March Madness. They all want to tell you about their "dark horse" team.
There's always that one guy who doesn't quite get the concept of a "dark horse." Sorry, Overly Excited Bracket Guy, but you can't list Duke or Indiana as your dark horse.
I see no reason why the first day of the Big Dance couldn't be a national holiday. We can call it Bracket Day.
In the same way turkey and dressing are associated with Thanksgiving, pizza and wings would be the official food of Bracket Day.
Even President Barack Obama, an admitted basketball junkie, fills out an NCAA bracket each year.
Shortly after taking office, Obama had the White House tennis court adapted to allow for full court basketball and has often hosted pickup games there.
The president's game on the court is a lot like his politics: He's a lefty. You've got to get aggressive with him and force him to the right every once in a while.
If any president could make Bracket Day a reality, it's Obama. He can sign one of those hasty, quasi-Constitutional executive orders, and we can all celebrate the great game.
Until then, the pinching - or "peenching" - will continue. And, yes, I'm wearing my green today, so don't even think about it.
Trainor is the senior staff writer at the Index-Journal. Contact him at 943-5650; email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow him on Twitter @IJCHRISTRAINOR. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper's opinion.