Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Still Standing When The Music Stops

Ten days past Super Bowl Sunday and I am starting to find the outcome of that day's events about as disagreeable as the Manning family undoubtedly has. Albeit my angina has a source separate and distinct from Peyton's rapid onset colorblindness and candidly is probably less easy to forgive.

Annually one of the women in the Firm organizes a Super Bowl pool. It is one of those "buy a box, root for a particular combination of digits at quarter's end" contraptions. Although it is a game of chance in which one's finite reservoir of aptitude has zero impact on one's likelihood of success, I have a stunningly poor track record of success in it. I am what one refers to as "a donor". Every year I purchase multiple boxes in the vain hope that saturation bombing might have better results for me than it has had historically on other battlefields. And every year I do nothing but transfer my contribution to the pool from my wallet to the wallets of the winners.

This year the Gods of the Dixie Brewery (a great local N'Awlins brew house and the setting for some of the action in Tightrope) smiled on Drew Brees and me with equal vigor. For once - proving that a kernel of truth exists in the old adage about blind squirrels and nuts - I actually won a quarter. Having bought $50 in boxes, my $150 victory put me squarely 1 "C note" in the black (for this year anyway. Historically I remain far, far in the red). I was happy. I was even happier when the following day the woman who runs the pool popped by my office to drop off my winnings.

I was less happy when the next day - the day after Monday - a group of my fellow winners decided to share their joy with the rest of the Firm by buying doughnuts and bagels for one and all. Had I been asked to participate in this largess I would have gladly done so. I was not asked and having failed to put on my psychic Underoos that morning before I left for the office I knew not that such an event was going to occur. Given that the good folks who sprung for breakfast for everyone else are three members of the clerical staff, you can rest assured that good old Captain Tightwad caught the occasional side eye for the remainder of the day.

I anticipated that I might have a shot at redemption the following day but, alas, it was Snowmageddon and the office was closed. Few seemed to notice that the morning of Snowmageddon I made coffee for my wife and later that evening I popped a bag of popcorn for Margaret, Suzanne and me watched "UP" on DVD. In retrospect I am not sure what it more regrettable - that none of my co-workers was present to witness my incomparable acts of generosity or that I felt compelled to mention them here. Sadly, I am lying of course. I have little doubt which of the two is more regrettable.

By the time everyone reconvened last Thursday it felt as if the moment to share the wealth had passed since no one wants to be "that guy" - the guy who appears to be doing something that while seemingly selfless is in fact not at all. Plus, being fairly self-absorbed and not a huge fan of doughnuts, it did in fact disappear from my mental Rolodex completely. Life moves at a far less restrictive pace for me since I decided to assign a seemingly short statute of limitations to the doing of good. Maybe I am not a good human being but at least I took a bit of comfort in the fact that I was not the only Pool victor to not participate in the feeding of the masses.

Yesterday morning that last vestige of comfort was stolen away from me much like Porter of the Saints stole Manning's pass right away from Reggie Wayne and turned it into a touchdown. For yesterday, on the second post-Super Bowl day after Monday (and on the first day of the work week following President's Day weekend) our pool organizer (who was also among the winners) toted into the kitchen the largest bakery box I have ever seen (at least transporting something out of which a stripper is not to leap). She set it down upon the kitchen table announcing to the world that she and her daughter were sharing their Super Bowl winnings with everyone. What! The daughter does not even work here. For crying out loud I am now getting my ass kicked at the job by people who do not even work for the Firm.

At this point I am thoroughly defeated. Whether I spring for food for the collective at this point or not matters little. Having been firmly established as the insensitive tightwad who would not share his wealth when members of the staff - and their non-employee kids for good measure - did has rendered any gesture I might make at this apparently late date ring hollow. I thought of bringing in Nilla Wafers and little containers filled with fireplace ash this morning for any of my colleagues who did not get the chance to stop by a house of worship. I reconsidered that plan however after realizing that asking each person to take just one Nilla Wafer would likely not cast me in the most flattering light and regardless of wafer limits might offend any non-Lenten members of our flock.

I have elected instead to simply hunker down and weather the storm. In another month or so, the 2010 edition of March Madness will start. I run that pool, which is winner-take-all. Never in my life have I won. Hell, I have never come remotely close to winning. Come early April I will be handing over the pot to this year's winner and then the onus will be on him - or her - to do the right thing as it were. I will be off the hook. Until then I will be certain not to leave the security of my office without gum in my mouth and a toothbrush in my pocket.....just in case I am subjected to an impromptu fructose or Bavarian creme breathalyzer.