Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Festive Flaming Upholstery

I'm a University of Kentucky alumna. I'm happy that we won the men's NCAA DI basketball championship. What I don't understand, though, is this need to overturn cars and set sofas (or anything that will burn, for that matter) on fire in celebration of our victory.

The semifinal against Louisville was personal. Rick Pitino bailed on Kentucky and ended up at Louisville after his failed seasons with the Boston Celtics- and ask anyone in the state, they'll tell you: that was his wife's idea, or at least everybody wants to blame her. To a degree, women forgive her a little teensy bit; after all, her youngest child died in Lexington, and that's enough to turn any mother bitter. (Just trust me, he is not a nice man, and that's from having personally witnessed his behavior a few times while I was a student.)

That's neither here nor there, except that even after we beat Louisville, Kentucky fans bared their behinds to the world by turning over a car and setting fire to numerous couches across Lexington. I guess that because fans couldn't burn Pitino in effigy, they just set the furniture on fire instead.

We didn't do that back in the day. They sure as hell didn't do that when my parents were up there- my mother says that in the House of Rupp, you didn't breathe funny during a game or Adolph Rupp himself would have you thrown out into the street. That held over until the Pitino Era, when he remarked on how quiet the fans were...the reason teams hated to play us at Rupp Arena was because the crowd would sit so perfectly still and utterly quiet (almost 25,000 people) that you could hear the shoes squeaking on the court. Pitino thought it showed a lack of support, and said so...thus began the Era of Loud Misbehavior by Kentucky Fans.

Most people know that upholstered furniture of recent vintage is constructed with flame-retardant materials. Ergo, it's kind of difficult to keep a couch burning after you set fire to it, so there's generally an accelerant involved somewhere in the equation. In other words, burning a couch in the street takes effort.

Why is it that people put so much effort into stupid things when they could be feeding the poor, or finding a cure for cancer? Why is it that they don't realize that the rest of the world had some very deep-seated negative stereotypes about Southerners in general, and Kentuckians in particular? "Whoo-hoo, lookit this here flaming couch I done set on fahr! YEE HAW!!!" should about cover what most of the world was thinking when our postgame revelries were broadcast on television.

Then again, this is an old, old stereotype to fight. Back when almost everybody who'd crossed the mountains to come here after the Revolutionary War was a squatter, Kentucky was legendary for its lawlessness and despotism. We've been trying to shake it off ever since, and this kind of behavior isn't helping. Leave the couch in the living room where it belongs, folks, and have your bonfires in trash barrels and fire pits like normal people...stop trying to prove we're as backward as the rest of the world already believes.

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