Wednesday, May 6, 2009

When "Doing the Most" Goes Wrong...

This “Bucket List” idea has to be one of the greatest ideas ever conceived by my brain.

God, you are the man for this one.

If you didn’t already know or haven't see me for the last two weeks, I’ve been tinkering with this idea of a “Bucket List”. No, I don’t plan on dying anytime soon. Instead, this “bucket list” contains a litany of events that I want to complete and ideas that I want to flesh out before graduation.

Even though the movie starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman served as inspiration for the title, I’ve actually been thinking about maximizing these two weeks for the past two years since my boy Ray Bignall graduated. Instead of playing the waiting game before graduation, Ray literally went to every single Smithsonian, did everything fun that he’s ever wanted to do in D.C., and graduated with a slew of Facebook pictures and fond memories. In short, Ray became a tourist.

Of course…as a New Yorker, I didn’t want to be THAT GUY. In New York, we always make sport of trying to find the misplaced tourist as they traverse Manhattan. Humungous camera? CHECK. Hawaiian shirt even though it’s New York in April? CHECK. Geeked expression on face when staring at random street performer? CHECK. Wearing socks with sandals? Ewwww.

However, there’s no shame in being a tourist. Actually, after missing out on a ton of cool stuff in Washington because I was trying to be cool…I realized that it’s necessary to cross into the tourist trap, er…zone. How else can you properly maximize the experience? When will you ever have this much time to frequent D.C. on the cheap?

So, as a self-proclaimed tourist, I have been taking out things on my itemized list. Last Saturday, I joined my friends on the National Mall for our annual Spring Thing. On Sunday, I played basketball at Pentagon City with my buddies from Grace Covenant DC and actually dunked the rock during our pickup game. (And by “dunk”, I mean…I Wally Szczerbiak’d that bad boy to the rim. Sweet.) On Monday, I went swimming at the local pool, enjoyed dinner at the home of one of my funniest friends to date, and went duck-hunting…on the old-school Nintendo.

On Tuesday, my sister and I went to the Senate office and happened to be in Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) office when MSNBC announced that Arlen Specter would switch political parties. Yes, we DID hear audible screams of joy.

On Wednesday, I visited the set of ESPN’s “Pardon the Interruption”. Later, I watched my friend Obehi Janice blow the audience away with her solo play over at Georgetown. After that, we snagged an ice cream dinner at Baskin Robbins, who was basically giving the sugary goodness away at 31¢ a scoop. But since the deal was limited to three scoops per customer, we then drove to another BR near Georgetown to get our fill.

On Thursday, I rolled out with my boy Rich and our crew to an all-you-can-eat wings place in Virginia and proceeded to eat 27 wings and 2 chicken fingers. Then, it was off to the Honors Banquet and Royal Affair for more eats. I love having high metabolism.

On Friday, we had a cool forty people (read that again, FORTY) join me on an excursion to witness Wolverine eviscerate bad guys in X-Men Origins. Trust me, there’s nothing more soothing after a tiresome semester than watching Hugh Jackson tear bad guys to shreds. Plus, with all the people…I was geeked. I didn’t know people ACTUALLY followed through after clicking “Attending” on Facebook. As we were all walking to the theater, I felt like Ice Cube in “Straight Outta Compton.” Or, better yet, Heavy D in the “Now That We Found Love” music video. (By the way, wasn’t this song extremely underrated? “Now that WHEEEEE found love…what are WHEEEEE gonna DOOOOO…WITH IT?” Great.)

However, some negative side-effects have begun to present themselves due to my infatuation with redeeming the time. First, I’ve destroyed my internal clock to the point where I end up waking up at like 6:30am for no apparent reason. Second, and more importantly…I’ve been missing NBA playoff basketball.

At first, it was no big deal. I figured that David Stern had probably handpicked we’d probably see the Black Mamba take on the Lebrons in the NBA Finals, and that these other series would just be meaningless battles for second-place. Instead of regurgitating information from other sources…why not sit back and enjoy life for a change? Why not live for the wonder of it all?

So I decided to go to Royal Affair 2009. Royal Affair is the night where the religious organizations on campus are honored for their service, and is usually a night that does a good job of covering the three F’s…food, folks, and fun. Since I’d never been to a Royal Affair ceremony, the night was marked on my calendar as a “bucket list” event. But there was only one problem.

The Chicago Bulls ended up taking the Boston Celtics to Game 6.

I arrived at the event wearing my tailored black suit with red tie…looking rather dapper if I do say so myself. Like Waldbaums, I stay fresh obsessed. However, while I looked smooth on the exterior, I was getting more anxious by the second. I looked at my phone. Tip-off in five minutes. I looked around the event and remembered that we were at the National Council for Negro Women office building on Connecticut Avenue. In other words, there were no televisions in sight.

I walked into the dining area and spotted my boy Ade at a far table. Knowing that Ade would be searching for game updates throughout the night, I plopped down in the seat to his left. After a brief conversation, we then began to strategize…agreeing that we’d take turns begging the security guard to refresh on a thirty-minute clip. It was desperate, it was selfish, but it HAD to be done. We would not be denied.

Unfortunately, when one feasts on ill-fated Internet updates…you’re bound to miss the ebb and flow of actual game action. When we checked the score at about the 3:00 mark of the fourth quarter and saw Boston up 7…I loudly declared the series OVER.

Three overtimes later, I was kicking myself. How could I miss the best game of the playoffs? Could I still call myself a true basketball fan?

When wielded with tact, the “Bucket List” can be considered one of the greatest single innovations released to the modern world. However, when this list causes a sportswriter to miss one of the greatest basketball games of all-time…perhaps the list should head back to the drawing board.

We don’t need this idea causing more harm than good.

Until I’m officially done with college, go over and check out Tillman’s blog, or, or somebody else who’s writing solid features about sports. But for now, I’ll take a hiatus from sports talk. I’ll go ahead and take a few plays off. I’m going to continue to maximize this on-campus vacation and enjoy this last week of restoration. But I'm not missing any more important playoff basketball, that's for sure.

Rest assured…I’ll be back in no time. Heck, maybe even sooner than you think.

Mike Benjamin, II

P.S. If you want to see more pictures from the Bucket Week, here's the link. Yes, I DID take these photos with my Kodak disposable camera. Go ahead...get your laughs in now.

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