Like my social life has played out every mid-March for as long as I remember, my weekend went something like this: Watch basketball. Play basketball. Watch basketball. Sleep.
So when it came time for my alma mater, Syracuse University, to hoop it up in the round of 32 Sunday night, it was no wonder all the "baby gear" my wife got at her recent shower was still sitting in the same unopened packages that they were on Friday. (Funny how our labrador, Miles, didn't help us open the car seat box like that now-famous lab Marley does in the movie.)
With a stack of newspapers sitting nearby - yes, I still read them every day - I contemplated taking out a desperate ad in the classified section: Wanted, someone who has a clue about how to put together stuff that manufacturers refuse to do for you.
Note to enterprising handymen, think of how much money you could make on this deal! Just stake out the local IKEA, contact couples engaged to be married or just follow guys like me throughout the store, and you're bound to make a fortune.
Since I don't know of such a profession, and I think banking on your parents for everything in your 30s is just taking it too far, I turned on the game and pulled out a box. I didn't want just any project; if I was going to work on something while my team was on, it was going to be something fun. That's what led to parenting mistake No. 1.
I pulled out the coolest thing I could find, a Disney Baby Einstein Around the World Discovery Center - you know, the circular thing babies sit in that allows them to move around in circles and play with noisy toy animals attached to the perimeter. (Whatever, it's in the photo.)
Putting it together wasn't all that bad, other than the few times I placed toys in the wrong spot and had to pry them out with both hands, a silly-looking escapade that turned my face redder than that of Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim. But unlike the 'Cuse - more on that sore subject later - my mission was a success.
Proud of my accomplishment, I walked upstairs at halftime to show my wife the finished product. "That looks great," she said with a smile. "But why are you putting that together now?"
The Boeheim red face quickly returned, though this time it was from embarrassment, as she explained that babies cannot hold up their heads for at least a few months, probably more. Riiight! (I wasn't lying before, I did go to college.)
With the Orange down three at halftime, it was time for a different game plan, at least in the Singley house.
I picked up a cradling bouncer - check photo No. 2 - but Boeheim stayed in his vintage 2-3 zone defense. And, like the Robert Frost poem, our divergence on two separate paths made all the difference.
It's important to note that while I grew up in Connecticut rooting for the Huskies, I fell in love with their sworn enemy during graduate school in upstate New York. There's something about a sea of people wearing the same bright color and screaming for their team under a huge domed stadium that will make you fall for the Orange. It's only natural. Plus, I figure I'll pay way more to S.U. over the years than I will to the state of Connecticut, though these days I'm not so sure.
My UConn alum friends don't see my logic; they claim I'm a traitor and say I deserve to watch Syracuse go home while the Huskies move on to the Sweet 16. Touchè.
So when the final buzzer sounded and No. 3-seeded Syracuse lost to No. 11-seeded Marquette, 66-62 Sunday night, I put my head down, changed the channel and promptly turned off my phone. (It's funny how a little silence can help you gain perspective.)
I looked at the boxes surrounding the living room, and for the first time all week they made me smile. It was then I realized that while I may "love" Syracuse basketball, the next true love of my life will be here soon.