Monday, April 12, 2010

Of phones and me

Pretty much.

Giving me a phone is basically the equivalent of giving Steinbeck's Lennie a mouse. Entrust a phone to me and you are placing a tiny mouse in the grasp of a hulking, mildly-retarded man with large hands and a penchant for petting soft things a little too hard. It doesn't end well.

My scraped and worn, pink Blackberry Curve, with its scratched screen, sticking tracker ball, malfunctioning keyboard, and a significant portion of the pink paint chipping away showed all the signs of loving something too hard seen in any child's favorite stuffed animal. Think the Velveteen Rabbit, for adults. My phone was my binky.

The last time I ever used it was at 2:48AM, April 11, 2010. I know this because, though I have no memories after approximately midnight on said date, tells me this. It also tells me who I texted, but not what I wrote, which is incredibly fortunate because I can only imagine that whatever it was was horrifically misspelled, inappropriate and / or borderline incoherent.

At some point thereafter, my phone went missing. I discovered this when I woke up the following morning, feeling very much like P. Diddy. I was on my neighbors' couch, (a lovely young married couple I've never met before) in a men's tie and my cocktail dress. My frenzied thought process went like this:

Sweet Jesus, where am I? Oh thank God, there's my purse. Okay, got my camera still... that's awesome. Most of my makeup... ID and money... Oh sh*t. Where's my phone.

This is why we can't have nice things.

I spent the next several hours traipsing through Georgetown and retracing my steps after going home and changing out of the fashion masterpiece that was the night before's outfit-coupled-with-men's-tie to track my Blackberry down. After contacting some friends online, I narrowed down my bberry's zone-of-disappearance.

Possible location 1: City Tavern Club. My friends say I was still texting them after an event I had attended there ended. Ruled out.

Possible location 2: George. Ruled out because "allegedly", according to my friend, I wasn't allowed in this bar because I was "too intoxicated". If you have ever been to the blackout cesspool that is George, you know what an accomplishment that is.

Possible location 3: Smith Point. My favorite bar and boyfriend, SP, closes at 3AM, and I was still actively using my phone minutes before it closed. This made me think it is unlikely I lost it there in the last few minutes before close, but not out of the realm of possibilities. I only wish the SP bouncers had been as judicious as the George bouncers and not let me in. My friend said they had initially refused, but she got them to change their tune with a $20.

Possible location 4: Five Guys. This local ghetto, greasy food-that-eats-through-its-own-bag establishment is, in all likelihood, where the tragedy occurred. I know I was there because I found several dozen ketchup and salt packets littering my front sidewalk today.

I called Five Guys and they said no one turned in a phone. SP doesn't open until Friday so, being the ever-patient person I am, I went there and 'let myself into' the courtyard where I searched dejectedly. No phone. I did, however, find $5.

At that point I was down one phone, and up one tie and $5.

I guess karma considers that a fair trade, because whoever had my phone turned it off at approximately 7PM, meaning they weren't giving it back.

I know it was turned off because I had been frantically calling it all day from my backup cellphone. Yes, backup cellphone. I actually own another phone, with its own number, that I keep and use solely for the purpose of calling and tracking down my primary phone whenever I lose or break it.

I officially declared my phone dead and irretrievable when my calls stopped ringing and started going straight to voicemail. The battery was too full to have died. The loss of this phone, while only one of many that have managed to evade me, is particularly tragic. I had it for a year and a month. In the world of me, that is a record.

Not only has this phone been with me for so long, it has been through a lot and always came out a survivor, if not a little worse-for-the-wear. It was on its fourth life when it was stolen from me.

Its first life ended in March, '09, when I threw up on it. Not my proudest moment. I tell it in the interest of full disclosure. It stopped functioning for several days afterward and the 7 / Z key only worked periodically. Fortunately, I didn't send a lot of text messages with "z" in them, but dialing any phone number that had a "7" in it was a real treat.

Its second life ended in January when I dropped it in the toilet at one of my favorite local dive bars, Gin & Tonic. There was a split second when I questioned whether to leave it in there; resting on the bottom like the Heart of the Ocean in Titanic, or go in after it and risk inevitably contracting the swine flu, the AIDS, the typhoid, the cholera, or some other old-timey disease I learned about playing Oregon Trail. I took the plunge. Again, it stopped functioning for a few days and this time the return and "$" keys were the casualties. That only really mattered when I had to send an email from my phone, because it would be one incredibly long paragraph.

Its third life ended during Snowpocalypse II in February in DC. I had it in the front pocket of my snow pants while sled riding when I decided it'd be a swell idea to run and belly-dive down a hill. Crushed it. And by "it" I mean both my phone and the hill, which I bet I looked pretty sweet flying down. At this point, my phone was used to the abuse and must have built up a tolerance, because it returned to life a mere few hours later.

I've also dropped or inadvertently thrown it more times than I can count, but that is barely worth noting considering what else the phone has endured.

My trusty bberry had earned the nickname Ol' Reliable. It was my favorite possession and I took it with me absolutely everywhere and had it with me at all times. There's me. There's my phone. Here's me. Here's my phone. Beside me on the dinner table? Phone. On my other pillow when I sleep? Phone. On my towel beside me at the beach? Phone. In my hands in the car when I'm not supposed to be using it? Phone. You get the point.

While it always managed to protect itself from me and my follies, it couldn't save itself from stranger danger as it fell into the clutches of evil Saturday night. My only hope is that whoever stole it reads this, so that they can have the distinct pleasure of knowing just how much my phone has been through. I refer specifically to the way its first and second lives ended. Enjoy that.

I get a new phone today. I'll try to be better with it. And I'll have a farm with Blackberries on it. And i'll tend to the Blackberries...

A mini-poncho in which I dressed my bberry for Cinco-de-Mayo. Yes, really.

Monday, April 5, 2010

West Virginia, Butler go down in Final Four

Coach Huggins shares a moment with his players near the end of the Final Four game.

On Saturday, I'd bet 90% of people became Mountaineers, if just for the night.

First of all, as a general rule, unless you (or a parent) went to Duke, you hate Duke.

Secondly, everyone loves an underdog. While this season, you couldn't apply that term to WVU, they are a second seed against 1-seed Duke. This was also Duke's 15th Final Four appearance, and its 11th under Coach Mike Krzyzewski. This was WVU's first Final Four appearance since 1959 and only the second in school history. WVU has never before won the NCAA basketball championship, and, it turns out, this year wouldn't be the year either.

Finally, viewers were touched by the moments the Mountaineer team shared with each other and with their coach on Saturday night.

The Final Four West Virginia Mountaineers vs Duke Devils match-up game looked awfully familiar to WVU fans. It was strikingly similar to the West Virginia vs Kentucky Elite Eight game just a week before. Except, in this game, WVU looked like Kentucky and Duke like West Virginia.

Like the Kentucky Wildcats had done facing West Virginia, WVU fell apart against Duke. They played a 1-3-1 zone again, but it failed to work for them as it had before. The Devils penetrated the setup and drove to the basket with little resistance. The Mountaineers were also off their shooting game, going only 6 for 20 from the floor in the second half and ending the game shooting 41.3%. They couldn't replicate their 3-point field goal barrage that earned them so many points a week prior, either.

In fact, the only part of the Mountaineers' game that was on par with their Elite Eight performance was that they were once again out rebounded. West Virginia was shooting one-and-done. Duke, on the other hand, posted a considerable number of points as the result of second-chance shots.

Duke landed 3-pointer after 3-pointer. They ended the game going 53.3% shooting, 29 of 55. Like West Virginia had against Kentucky, Duke started with an early lead that left WVU playing catch-up the rest of the game.

The Devils went up 18-11 and the Mountaineers fought back and cut the lead to two points, 23-21. This was the closest WVU would be tasting victory for the rest of the game. The Mountaineers trailed 39-31 going into halftime.

I anticipated WVU would regroup at the half and come roaring back into the game once play resumed. The second half is when they really pulled ahead against Kentucky, and the last 7 points of the first half of this game were Mountaineers' baskets.

And WVU did close the lead, coming within five points, 43-38. From there, however, it was all downhill for West Virginia. Duke sank three 3-pointers while WVU turned the ball over, leading to a 15-point Duke lead.

Just when Mountaineers' fans thought things couldn't get worse, team star and lead scorer Da'Sean Butler went down - hard - while attempting a shot with 8:59 remaining. He collided with Devils' Brian Zoubek and both fell to the ground. When Zoubek got up, however, Butler continued to lay on the court in pain, clutching his left knee. WVU Coach Bobby Huggins ran to his side, got down on his knees, hugged his player and stroked his face to console him. This was the most endearing, most enduring moment of the game.

The players took a knee and WVU fans took time to pray, looking on helplessly as their best player's chances of walking off the court being okay, and their hopes of winning the game and making the NCAA championship, were simultaneously dashed.

Butler was helped up and taken to the locker room in a golf cart. The Butler incident had me near tears, but I could no longer hold them back when, with a minute and a half remaining, Huggins hugged two of his starting-lineup players to him in a moment where the feeling of "we gave it our all, did our best and we had a heck of a run and I'm proud of you" was tangible.

The Mountaineers lost, 78-57, but what I'll really remember about that game is the moments between Huggins and his players. Those are moments of victory, even in defeat. Those are the reasons, really, that make sports worth playing, no matter which side of the ball you're on. And those are the moments that stay with us, rather than who won or lost, when all is said and done.