Sometimes, disappointment has its own way of turning into satisfaction. When certain expectations or hopes are unfulfilled or dashed, it can leave a void, a feeling of resentment. These feelings can ruin what would otherwise have been a marvelous experience. But those who resolve to take such disappointment in stride can often be rewarded with a pleasant yet unexpected experience.

Watching Duke game at Satisfaction
Students watched the game to their satisfaction.

Satisfaction. The name says it all. The Durham sports bar located in Brightleaf Square would end up being the perfect venue for those of us who were not fortunate enough to receive tickets to the UNC vs. Duke basketball game that was taking place just miles away. While we would doubtless have preferred to have enjoyed the game at Cameron Indoor Stadium, we displaced Crazies would not let disappointment mar our enjoyment of what would still be a fantastic game between two bitter rivals.

The game was scheduled to begin at 9 pm, and I arrived at Satisfaction just after 7 pm to scope the place out and reserve a table. It was already nearly packed with patrons—most decked out in Duke Blue—ready to watch the #5-ranked Devils, 21-2 on the season, take on the #20-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels, who had won 10 of their last 11 games after an unimpressive 7-4 start to their season. The first-year students had organized the gathering to begin at 7:30, and I greeted several of my friends at the door just at that time. Turns out that I’m not the only one who doesn’t buy into “fashionably late” when it comes to Duke basketball.

We were able to seat the dozen of us at the table closest to the front entrance, and reserve seats for the few stragglers we expected to show before game time. Almost all of us we sporting one form of Duke gear or another, truly Devils undaunted. None of us seemed to want to be anywhere else but at Satisfaction, and it didn’t take us long to utilize one advantage we certainly had over those at Cameron—the Satisfaction menu! Faction Fries and a few pitchers of beer were soon ordered for the table, and we patiently quelled our collective appetite for the main course.

Which we almost couldn’t stomach. The Tar Heels took an early lead on the Blue Devils—scoring the first eight points of the game—and stretched their lead by boxing out their way to easy second-chance opportunities, employing a quick transition offense, and overpowering our frontcourt in the paint. Or to put it in layman’s terms: outhustling us. I offered both kinds of explanations when asked “what is happening?!” in plain terms by my puzzled and perturbed friends—as though yelling “box out!” at Mason Plumlee’s likeness on one of the several widescreen LCD TVs ordains me some kind of basketball guru. But explanations were as empty as the French fry baskets and beer pitchers that decorated our table. We were unfulfilled, and the situation was starting to leave a bad taste in our mouths.

By halftime, we were down by 14 points, but I was honestly not worried about our chances to pull out a win. Maybe I owe it to sensing what Coach Krzyzewski would later recount as his team being “too excited” in the first half, not being fundamentally lacking. Maybe I owe that to my longtime citizenship of Red Sox Nation, which found its Boston Red Sox down to the hated rival New York Yankees three games to none in the Major League Baseball’s 2004 best-of-seven American League Champion Series, only to storm back and win 4-3 in one of the most improbable and satisfying (for Sox fans anyway) comebacks in the history of sports. Or maybe I’m just an irrationally stubborn fan of my teams. Regardless, I projected this sentiment to my friends as a few of us ordered something more substantial from the menu (I ordered a Satisfaction Burger, fully loaded), in what I hope was a subtle enough attempt to rouse the morale of those of us who had come here for an enjoyable evening. When the second half began, our food came out hot and the Devils came out even hotter. This time, we were the team to score eight straight points to begin the half, and as we edged closer and closer the cheers and clapping at Satisfaction got louder and louder. When Sophomore Ryan Kelly hit a three-point shot midway through the second half to give Duke its first lead of the game—a lead we would not relinquish—we were pumping our fists and high-fiving strangers at other tables, finally granted the delicacy we deserved.

The rest of the way, it was as though Duke was getting to every loose ball and could hardly miss. While Duke outscored the Tar Heels 50-30 in the second half, we had all long forgotten that we hadn’t been able to secure tickets to see this game live, or that at one point we were down by 16 points to hated UNC. All that mattered to us was ultimately being treated to a great night of entertainment amongst other devout Dukies. As time ticked out on our 79-73 victory, we could honestly say that any disappointment had eventually been overcome by satisfaction.