Buzzkill

I’ll frequently walk into a room and forget why I’ve gone there, until some visual clue — a urinal often does it — snaps me back into the moment. It’s not a sign of advancing age: As a kid, getting dressed for school, I’d get lost in thought while sitting on my bed, one sock on and one sock off, until my Mom came in and shook me out of my catatonic state. (And wouldn’t that be a great name for a university?)

Today, I watched the final few minutes of the basketball game between my alma mater (Marquette, not Catatonic State) and my wife’s alma mater (Connecticut). When UConn’s Jerome Dyson hobbled off the court with an injury, I thought of those Dyson vacuum cleaner commercials, in which that English guy talks about the superiority of a Dyson’s turning radius, pivoting as it does on a ball instead of turning on four wheels. It looks like a high-end car commercial, the Dyson slaloming through a living room like a BMW through the Alps. And I always think: This guy really needs to get over his vacuum fetish. I mean, it’s just a vacuum. (I also think: Vacuum — two cs, one u, or two us, one c?)

With 30 seconds left in the game, the TV came back into focus. (“Welcome back to the world of the living,” my Dad always said when I returned from these reveries.) Marquette’s Darius Johnson-Odom hit three straight free throws to tie the game at 68. Johnson-Odom made me think of Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton, a Purdue women’s basketball assistant. My wife recently asked her if she’d hyphenate when she got married and Wisdom-Hylton said absolutely she would. Makes me hope she’ll one day marry “Welcome Back Kotter” star Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs — or at the very least Darius Johnson-Odom — and get three hyphens in her surname. I think that would look cool on paper, like a string of railroad cars hitched together. It would give literal resonance to the phrase “getting hitched.”

But back to the game. On TV, they cut to Marquette coach Buzz Williams. It’s a great name, Buzz, and I thought of all the Buzzes who have gone before him: Buzz Aldrin, Buzz Lightyear, my great-uncle Buzz Boyle, who played leftfield for the Brooklyn Dodgers, a franchise that would later have a general manager named Buzzy Bavasi. Other Buzzes came to mind — basketball player Buzz Peterson, writer Buzz Bissinger — until all these individual Buzzes blended into one sustained buzz, a beehive of inactivity.

That’s when I realized the buzz I was hearing was the final buzzer of the basketball game. It was over. Marquette won. I haven’t a clue how.