My dear readers, I approach you today with a sobering topic of sorts.
Near the end of each year, thousands of Midwesterners are afflicted with December Dope Disorder. It's most prevalent the day Illinois and Missouri play their annual Braggin' Rights basketball game.
On the surface, these people appear normal: man-hugging complete strangers, standing throughout the game for no apparent reason, etc. However, researchers—i.e. a certain RedEye columnist who attended Thursday's 78-74 Tigers win—have pinpointed several unmistakable symptoms.
>> Rationalizing a 600-mile, overnight road trip to St. Louis three days before Christmas when there are presents to be purchased and wrapped.
>> Wearing Santa hats despite their obvious clash with garish orange or magnificent gold shirts. (My bad, fashion police.)
>> Shouting three-letter sequences randomly in public settings (side streets, train platforms, hotel lobbies) and expecting a response, whether it's the grating "I-L-L, I-N-I!" or the melodious "M-I-Z, Z-O-U!" This behavior often is considered a competition in and of itself.
>> Missouri grads tweaking Illinois fans via sports column after a Tigers victory.
Please do not assume this malady is localized to these two states, either. Longtime friends living two time zones away are known to send sexually suggestive text messages at halftime predicting a comeback from an 11-point deficit. (Almost, Illini fans. Almost.)
Even the next day, compatriots will question said columnist's loyalty to his home state of Illinois: "So where did you celebrate your victory last night, traitor?" (Maniacal laughter usually defuses these potentially explosive situations.)
Note that serious cases of DDD can spur the onset of I-wish-I-were-back-in-college-itis. The tell-tale signs of this are impromptu karaoke of "(Forget) You," "Piano Man" and "Don't Stop Believin'," followed by 2 a.m. visits to White Castle.
If you see me, er, anyone suffering from December Dope Disorder, do not be alarmed. Simply shake your head, mock from a distance or, if you have a designated driver, choose to participate. Much like sleepwalking or a Kardashian's fame, it will run its course soon enough.
Until March Madness sets in.
firstname.lastname@example.org | @sayitissosa