My big sister, Brenda, loves March Madness almost as much as Chuck, her husband. During hunting season, I’d venture to say there are days when she loves the Big Dance even more than Chuck. To Brenda, when tourney time comes, the chirp of shoe rubber on lacquered floors and the slap of a dribbling ball sounds like a Miranda Lambert song. But only in March. She doesn’t watch basketball leading up to March Madness. She’s quirky like that.
“This is when the winners come out, baby,” she says, imitating Dick Vitale. “All that other stuff is like salad. I want the dessert.”
Brenda knows her way around a dessert too, and gets as competitive about the subject as Nick Saban does about a 3-4 defense. She can cook anything from a fancy Iron Chef deal to a fresh-shot rabbit, but sweets are her specialty.
In high school, being a southern girl, her wickedly awesome MoonPie Pie – a pile of steaming banana pudding, banana MoonPies and chunks of real, live grilled bananas riding on a bed of crushed graham crackers – almost won her a scholarship to the vocational school out on the bypass. At the last minute a girl with a fiddle, singing “Jim Dandy To The Rescue,” edged her out. Even though that girl ended up getting expelled for playing her fiddle too loud in the dorm, Brenda still holds a grudge. She’s spent half her life perfecting her MoonPie Pie recipe just to show everybody in town that she should have won that scholarship. Every year it gets a little more complicated.
“This year when everybody comes over to the house for our March Madness party, I’m upping my game,” she told me last week after spending three days in the kitchen. “I’ve got the jump on a 5 pound MoonPie Pie Cake.”
I can’t quite picture how a pie pie cake works, but I learned a long time ago not to question my sister’s oddball ideas. You get smart real quick after an angry 9 year-old girl beats you with a Barbie doll, shish kabobs your best football with a knitting needle and flushes all your Play-Dough down the john because you questioned her love of The Monkees. Her deep-south-sweet-southern-girl-drawl hides a mean streak that could play defensive back for LSU.
As March Madness cranks up this year, Brenda already has her office pool filled out with $200 riding on “the underdog.” She didn’t bother to tell me who “the underdog” is, but I think the coach might be named Shaka. ESPN was playing in the background when she called me yesterday asking what a bracketologist really does.
I tried to explain how a bracketologist predicts the winners, make big bucks, and never gets fired even when he’s wrong 80% of the time.
“Usually a guy whose wrong 80% of the time is called a husband,” she said, “not a bracketologist.”
Bon Appétit, Chuck.