The world is full of lies, and it’s hard to get through life without taking a few on board. Luckily, we’re here to sort the fact from the fiction, and find the plankton of truth in the ocean of bullshit. This week: March Madness! Just how mad are March hares, anyway? Will going mad get you out of active duty? With no actual March Madness to watch this year, you may as well just read this instead.
Lie #1: Loads of Dudes Schedule Vasectomies For Right Before March Madness So They Can Spend The Week Healing
It’s hard to think of anything more suburban U.S. dadcore than sitting on a La-Z-Boy in front of a TV that’s blaring needlessly baffling sports stats, cooler at your feet, freshly cracked-open bottle of underwhelming domestic beer in one hand, the other clutching a bag of frozen peas to your freshly shorn scrotum in a bid to numb the dull ache emanating from yesterday’s vasectomy.
And what better time to have a vasectomy than right before a packed schedule of college basketball? Have a bit of “you time” as you heal, as much ball-handling off-screen as on.
And it’s true… now… kinda. According to the paper “Evolution of Vasectomy Trends in the United States,” other than the very end of the year (when people are working out their insurance deductibles), March is peak vasectomy time. However, this isn’t a crafty ploy dudes came up with in order to combine taking reproductive responsibility with catching some games. It’s a marketing scheme — a shrewd urologist pushed it as an idea, it got reported everywhere, and it became A Thing.
It takes about three months to arrange a vasectomy, so it probably has a lot more to do with getting Christmas out of the way and wanting to get everything done by summer than a specific tournament. It’s also not “loads of dudes.” About half a million U.S. men have vasectomies every year, while twice that number of women have their tubes tied. Most importantly, you don’t need a week off work after a vasectomy, even if you have the biggest, most splendid genitals in the world. Unless your job involves heavy lifting — which can tear stitches — one or two to days on the couch is all that’s generally advised.
Right now, in 2020, there’s probably, if you really think about it, another health issue you can come up with if you want a week at home.
Lie #2: “This Is The Maddest March Ever!”
Nah man. The Long March was the maddest march ever. Taking place in China from 1934 to 1935, this saw 100,000 soldiers from the Red Army set out to march somewhere between 3,700 and 8,000 miles from Jiangxi to Shaanxi, with only 7,000 of them making it.
Like a lot of things that have taken place in China over the years, there are very, very conflicting accounts of a lot of details. There are heroic 300-esque tales of plucky Communist underdogs vanquishing their heavily armed foes that don’t necessarily completely line up with how people who were there might have remembered things — which side had the machine guns, for instance.
But loads of completely bonkers stuff did take place along the way. They crossed 18 mountain ranges and 24 rivers. Whole battalions died after getting stuck in quagmires and exhausting themselves trying to get out. Mao Zedong’s wife gave birth to a daughter shortly after starting the march, then gave her away to a local family. There were skirmishes involving people dangling under bridges or shimmying up cliff sides to drop explosives off.
It was a nuts, nuts thing and ultimately led to Mao Zedong’s victory over the Kuomintang and the founding of Communist China. A trek twice the width of the U.S. with a 90 percent death rate being hailed as victorious and changing the world is arguably at least slightly madder than a well-organized basketball tournament.
Lie #3: “[Someone Or Something] Is As Mad As A March Hare!”
The hares that inspired this expression aren’t mad, they are extraordinarily horny. So, so, overwhelmingly horny. During mating season, horned-up hares behave oddly, jumping up and down a lot and careening all over the place due to being overcome with bonerness. The expression should really be “as horny as a March hare,” and in an accurate world, the March Hare in Alice In Wonderland should be nursing a rock-hard safe-cracker of an erection, all leering and horrible, rubbing himself against things like a reprobate.
Lie #4: “I Saw An Excellent Thing in the March Issue of Mad”
You can’t, there isn’t one. Mad Magazine is currently bimonthly, published in even-numbered months. Also, it’s sort of not going any more — the last few issues have been almost entirely reprinted archive material, and it’s no longer available on newsstands. Current plans seem to be for one annual year-in-review issue of new stuff, and five greatest-hits issues.
It’s an enormous shame, the sadly inevitable result of industry-wide falling sales, questionable decisions by parent companies (such as a move from New York to L.A. offices that saw the entire staff left behind) and the difficulty of convincing people with internet access to pay for jokes about things that happened three months earlier.
It’s always had erratic publishing schedules — in 1956, only four issues came out, while for 40 years or so, it came out a deeply unusual eight times a year — and been happy to push out old material (repackaging of old content began in 1955, just three years after Mad’s debut, when mass-market paperbacks of old material were released, and Super Specials, consisting predominantly of old stuff, started coming out in 1958).
But this really feels like the end. It sucks, a great American institution so influential to so many, going out not with a bang but with a whimper. Especially when, thanks to the great Don Martin, it pioneered so many more exciting sound effects — going out with something like a KWONG or a MAMP SPWAT TOK would seem more fitting.
Lie #5: Act Mad, and You Won’t Be Drafted
Pretending to be mentally ill to get out of a war seems like a pretty good plan. Klinger spent the first few seasons of M*A*S*H trying to get a Section 8 discharge, it’s a key part of Catch-22, it’s a classic moment from beloved British sitcom Blackadder and actor Sidney Poitier managed to do it for real in 1944.
Being discharged under Section 8 wasn’t particularly desirable, however, as it forfeited your right to veteran’s benefits and could render you unemployable. In reality, it was used to discharge a lot of gay or trans soldiers as they were deemed “mentally unfit” to be part of the army (hence Klinger always wearing dresses).
Section 8 no longer exists, replaced by the ODPMC discharge (for other designated personal medical conditions). It’s a command-initiated procedure, meaning you can’t request it, and it only applies when “a diagnosis by a psychiatrist or psychologist… concludes that the disorder is so severe that the member’s ability to function effectively in the military environment is significantly impaired.”
What’s more, according to the National Lawyers Guild Military Law Task Force, psychiatric help within the army is thin on the ground: “Soldiers facing activation or deployment, and servicemembers in general, often receive little or no attention to obvious psychiatric problems, while many soldiers returning from combat with symptoms […] are similarly ignored. […] Service members may face unwarranted discharge for psychiatric problems when none are present, while those seeking medical or administrative discharge on that basis often run into intransigence from commands and military doctors.”
So, acting mad won’t help you. Cancel that dress order, Klinger, you’re going to war!