So today, the ACC tournament begins. For those of you who don’t know, the Atlantic Coast Conference is the conference in which my beloved Tar Heels play (as well as N.C. State, and Maryland, and a little team known as Duke, blah blah blah.) Anyway, at the end of the regular season there’s the tournament: it begins with a play-in game Thursday night, followed by four games on Friday, two on Saturday, and the championship game on Sunday. It is, frankly, a college basketball lover’s ideal weekend.

People go crazy for the tournament here, especially today. They call it the “blue flu,” (blue and white are our colors), that strange malady that seems to hit half the population and keep them home from work on this particular Friday. It’s like a community skip day. When we were kids, in elementary school, they’d come over the intercom during the school day to tell us the results of the games. When I worked at the Burrito, I’d spent all afternoon after the lunch shift sitting in a booth watching the games on the TV over the bar. And in the last couple of years, when I’ve been travelling, I always manage to find a TV somewhere showing some ACC game, so I can pay homage to this important part of my culture. Today, I’m taking a little road trip to visit an old friend on the coast, so I’ll be listening to the games on the radio. Ah, basketball. And we still have March Madness to look forward to! (Brackets will be announced on Sunday, usually right after the ACC championship game. Joy!)

When we were in Florida last week, we went to a sports bar at the resort where we were staying to watch the UNC-Duke game. (We lost, but oh, well.) We ended up watching it with a bunch of folks from Maryland, who were rooting against Duke if not exactly for UNC (this is a common phenomenon). At one point this guy, who’s somewhat drunk, starts talking about North Carolina, and says to me, “The problem with your state is, you’ve got no culture.” I’m like, what? And he kept up with it. He kept saying, “You’ve got no culture!” and pointing at me. I said, “You don’t know me!” which he admitted was true, while my husband looked on slightly nervously, as if he feared I might get into a bar fight, a first for me. (But I did not. Why? Because I have CULTURE.)

Anyway, I pointed out that we have lots of culture down here; barbecue, for starters. He admitted it was, in fact, the best. And what about basketball? Well, yes, he said, that’s true too. I think I threw him with equating barbecue with culture, but whatever. The point is that in every state, every town, you have something is special to you. That speaks of home. And basketball (and barbecue) is mine.

Go Heels!

And have a good weekend everyone…