Friday, April 26, 2013

A Tale of Two Golf Balls

With the arrival of spring, I'm posting a true golf story that happened to me a few years ago. After the incident, I stewed on it for several holes before I realized maybe there were two viewpoints to the story, and perhaps I wasn't necessarily right:

I should have taken it as an omen. As I walked across the putting green to the driving range, the lone man practicing his putting grumbled something unintelligible at me. I said, "I’m doing great," assuming he had given me a customary greeting when in reality he may have been complaining about my walking across his putting line or telling me a tornado had been spotted.

I spent some time on the driving range while the other man teed off ahead of me. By the time I tee off, he had gotten a good two holes ahead of me. Because of high winds and the Masters being on television, the course was virtually empty. To keep a decent spacing from the man in front of me, I played two balls. While standing on the 4th green, I saw him put his bag down on the 6th tee. At that point, I decided I would start playing one ball in the hopes of passing him and getting in a full round of eighteen holes.

The fifth hole was a par 3 that played 195 yards with a large green surrounded by a creek, pond and trees. Because of a steady headwind, I pulled out my 5 wood and crushed a shot starting out over the water and the trees. The wind brought it back into play. I watched as the ball sailed over the trees knowing it's on a perfect line to the hole. I never saw the ball land, but I knew it had to be up there close or perhaps over the green.

I walked to the green with my head bowed down into a fierce wind. When I looked up, I saw my ball on the left side of the green, thirty feet from the hole but a well played shot in the wind. I set my bag down next to the green and pulled out my putter. From the corner of my eye, I noticed someone coming out of the trees from the other side of the creek. It’s the guy from in front of me. He carried his bag across the bridge and set it on the side of the green. Could I have been mistaken? Did I hit into him?

"Did I hit into you?" I asked. "I didn’t see you."

"No, no. I was just messing around down there."

He pulled out his putter and walked across the green as I did the same. I couldn't figure out his intentions. I assumed he just wanted to practice the hole. When I got close to the ball, I realized it’s his ball and not mine. He chipped onto the green sometime after my drive! I casually walked over the green, looking for my ball assuming it went in the water. He pulled out the flagstick and putted!

Okay, fine, I thought. I’ll just pick up my bag and head onto the sixth hole. But before I get off the green, he had picked up his bag and went to the sixth tee as well without a word. What was he doing? Maybe he wanted to partner up for the rest of the round. I didn’t know.

I stood there and watched him tee off on six. He picked up his bag and moseyed on down the sixth hole. I glared. Grimaced. Pouted. But he ignored me. Flustered, I dropped a ball and did a few practice putts. Then I skipped the sixth hole and cut in front of him on seven.

An opposing viewpoint from Roy Bob, the guy playing in front of me:

What a great day for golf! While warming up on the practice green, some yo-yo comes cuttin’ across, bag on his back leavin’ big ol’ indentations all across the green. I mean, you may as well drive your Caddy Master across the green. You know what I’m saying?

But I just gave him, you know, the usual country club banter, "How’s it going? Great day for golf ain’t it? Say, how’s the Masters’ goin’? Who’s winnin’?"

And you know what he said? "I’m doing great."

What does that mean? I mean, was he in the Masters and he did great and hopped on a plane to get back to our club? Danged whippersnappers.

But I forgot about him and went to tee off. So I’m movin’ along and get to hole number five, par 3 into the wind. I pulled out the trusty 7 wood and nailed it like I always do. But it’s windy, remember? So the wind blowed to hog heaven on me, pushing my ball into the trees across the creek. Never seen nothin’ like it.

I wandered down by the creek lookin’ for balls and whuppin’ water moccasins like you is supposed to when golfin’ by a creek. At this point, I’m plus 3 ‘cause I lost one ball and found four new ones. All sudden, I hear a whack! That yo-yo just teed off while I’m walkin’ the creek. Funny shot too. Started out way left. Lucky for him it hit a tree and dropped straight down sixty yards short of the green.

I found a ball pretty near the creek. It’s a Dunlop. Not mine, but I played it and didn’t take the penalty stroke because I’m tryin’ not to waste time. Chipped it on up the green a good 30 feet past the hole. Not bad from where I was though.

I crossed the bridge just as the yo-yo is settin’ his bag next to the green. He looked at me like I’m some kind of ghost comin’ from the woods like that. Asked if he hit into me. I tell him no. And he doesn’t apologize! Can you believe it? I mean, despite my denyin’ he hit into me, he should still apologize. Cos he did. Sorta.

Now, get this, he pulled out his putter and got to walking toward my ball. My mind was in stitches, him a thinkin’ my ball was his. I coulda done told him that his fell sixty yards short of the green, but the boy needed to learn to watch his shot not his fantasies. Besides, if he didn’t pick it up, I could come back for it later.

When I saw him eyeing my ball, I skedaddled it on over there 'cause if he hit it, that’s a penalty stroke. I’ll be damned if I’m taking a penalty stroke on his foolhardyness when I’m a puttin’ for par. Or was it birdie?

Then he pretended like he knew it was my ball all along, standing there with his hands on his hips looking at the pond thinking his ball might wash up. I went ahead and putted out. At the same time, he’s headed back to his bag. I jam the flag stick back in the cup and rushed to my bag. I suspected he was tryin’ to cut in front of me, so I headed on over to number six and never looked back.

Well, I did look back just before my second shot on six to see if he might hit into me. But why would he do that? I mean, if he saw me whuppin’ those water moccasins, he knowed I’m not to be messed with.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Honorable Bacon

A few months ago, while setting up the wireless network in our new house, I saw a list of neighborhood wireless networks that included “BaconBuddie.” I assumed that was the wifi network for the little breakfast cafe around the corner and thought that was pretty cool.

Flash forward five months later when St. Pauli Girl came home late one afternoon and noticed the tree on the side of our house was now literally on the side of our house. As in leaning against. As in uprooted with our house as its lone crutch. It hadn't really done much damage, but it could fall completely over at any minute, not only damaging our house but our neighbors' as well, or their motor home parked nearby.

Hence, we had to meet our neighbors to ask them to move their motor home so the tree could be hauled away. They turned out to be a sweet older couple who claimed to be in their nineties. And guess what the ninety-somethings names are? Bacon (Mr.) and Buddie (Mrs.). No joke! Bacon is short, slim, and wears a baseball cap and cowboy boots, which is pretty much what I'd imagine someone named Bacon to look like.

St. Pauli Girl and I discussed whether that was his given name or just a nickname. We finally decided that it had to be his given name which must have put Bacon the child under a lot of pressure. Someone named Bacon must be honorable and salt of the earth. He/she must be firm and dress crisply. A Bacon may never be destined to be president, but he/she must be a hardworker and honest as the day is long. The expectations of the name are the equivalent of naming a child Sam Houston, or Eli Whitney or Lancelot Link or Wishbone.

Now onto a tangent: Last Saturday St. Pauli Girl and I went out to brunch at a local wine bar that also has live jazz music. That should give you a good indication of the pretentiousness and prices of the place. For my entree, I ordered a crepe stuffed with eggs, sausage, potatoes, and hollandaise sauce, which of course is just a breakfast burrito priced four times higher because of the words “crepe” and “hollandaise.” For my one side dish, I ordered bacon.

The burrito, er crepe, was okay (would have been great with Tapatio hot sauce) but for the first time in my life, I actually let them take my plate with uneaten bacon on it (as did St. Pauli Girl). This is the equivalent of the Pope canceling Sunday services on a whim. It was truly the worst bacon that I can recall since 1985.

Using my fingers, I held up a piece that drooped over my hand spilling grease down my arm. “I thought they stopped making Sizzlean in the eighties?” I asked St. Pauli Girl. “I can't decide if it's just poor quality or they tried to microwave it or both.”

If in fact it had been microwaved on a bunch of paper towels, they might as well have served up strips of the paper towels instead, because they were that limp, greasy, and tasteless. It’s not “brunch” if the bacon is not even on the same level as IHOP’s or Denny's (not that there's anything wrong with IHOP or Denny's bacon). A Grand Slam it wasn’t. More like a broken bat bloop single.

In the end, bacon the food and Bacon the name fall under the caveat of “to those who much was given, much more will be required.” Restaurant bacon must be firm, crisp, salty and smell like heaven. A person named Bacon must be humble, hardworking, crisply dressed and wear cowboy boots.

For all I know, our neighbor Bacon could be a serial killer, but I will never believe it.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Christmas in April

One of the only good things about moving is discovering things you don't remember having. Recently, I discovered a shoebox full of old letters/postcards from family, friends and countrymen. I found a rather amusing letter from my dad from 1991 discussing the upcoming holiday season and who gets whose name for the annual Christmas gift exchange. I found the humor/tone eerily familiar and decided to make it a guest post in my blog. Had I waited until Christmas, I probably would have forgotten about it, so you are stuck with Christmas in April.

I already anticipate a court summons from him for copyright infringement:

To: The Members of the Magnificent Klemperer Clan

From: The Magnificent Parents of the Klemperer Clan

Date: November 10, 1991

Since the Great Pumpkin did not appear again and the turkey will be too stuffed to do anything, someone had to do the name drawing for Christmas. After consulting with the intelligent member of the family (you did not get a call about this? I wonder what that means? Hmmmmm.) your father was unanimously elected by a vote of 1 – 1. Everyone knows 1 – 1 equals zero so there was no opposition.

Enclosed you will find the name that was drawn by the absentee hand. We have carefully recorded who drew whom and put the list in a Miracle Whip jar, sealed it with duct tape and put it who knows where. If you lose your name, you can call and for a small fee, we will tell you the name given (we mean drawn) for you. Of course we probably could not find the list in the jar as I forgot to empty it first. For those of you who are married and decide to discuss the name you have drawn, just remember, your spouse is kidding if she/he says “Dad” and your slip says “Dad.” This brings us to the thought that we (Mom and Dad) have decided to participate in the drawing. To make it easy, we will accept gift certificates in increments of a thousand (dollars).

The following guidelines are for those who will be coming over during the Christmas season. We will be celebrating an old-fashioned Christmas this year. We will use candles for light and the fireplace for heat. We suggest that you bring warm clothing and portable heaters (non-electric). Rooms will be assigned on a first come, first served basis. The warm rooms will be given to the early arrivals; the others will have to fight the polar bears.

As a new tradition this year, boxes will be placed at the front door to accept your gifts of food and spirits. The boxes will be marked with your name so Santa can find out who's naughty or nice. Fingerprints will be taken and the hidden video cameras will record everything (not that anyone would take from someone else's box and put it in theirs!).

When you register, note that only cash is accepted, in advance. Your parking tickets must be stamped daily or else the rates will automatically double.

All fax machines, computers, and electronic games become the property of the establishment if plugged in. Long distance is provided by the U.S. Postal Service for your convenience. Anyone who comes down with an illness will be immediately banished to the Franciscan Brothers Nursing Home for care. They devote their lives to caring for the sick. They will love you if you are sick.

Hopefully, you will find these few rules to be helpful, but bribery works.

As it may be crowded at our house, the following will not be allowed:

  • Snowballs
  • Icicles
  • Cranberries
  • Kidney Stew
  • Necessary evils
  • Extra whipped cream
  • Soap operas
  • Sad sacks
Please don't forget to bring the grandchildren. We will even take them on an outing for a few hours (without their parents)!

Mom and Dad

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Chupacrabra, Sasquatch or ....?

We recently spent a weekend at our “vacation house” (the nice way of saying we have two mortgages right now) where we met St. Pauli Girl's brother and sister-in-law. After a bit of conversation, her brother said, “I don't mean to alarm you, but you might have a chupacabra living here.”

He then took us to the backyard where to put it simply, some animal had turned a small area of the lawn into its personal litter box. We were all puzzled as none of us could think of an animal that would do something like that in the same spot (well except for cats and litter boxes but that's only because the cats force their human pets to clean up after them.)

But I immediately got excited because I realized I now had to go to a town hall meeting of the “Finding Bigfoot” crew to report these findings. I decided I would wait and let them bag the evidence themselves. I could already imagine Matt or Bobo talking about this amazing find:

“We were skeptical of the story at first but when you have hard or maybe squishy evidence like this, you can't ignore it. I've never seen Bigfoot dung but I have no reason to believe this wasn't Bigfoot dung. So as an experiment, we had Bobo take a dump and then compared it with the Bigfoot dung. They weren't close at all. That's when I knew we had some credible Bigfoot evidence.”

My mind came back to reality as we all discussed possibilities. Since all of the droppings were beneath trees, I reasoned that it had to be a bird like a hawk or owl. Everyone seemed skeptical until I told the story of my golfing experience a few years ago when I saw a Mississippi kite getting terrorized by two smaller birds and well, those birds literally scared the crap out of that kite. And I'm glad I wasn't standing any closer as the pile would have been large enough for rave laughs in an Adam Sandler movie.

Luckily in this modern day and age, we can answer any question via the internet. I queried “owl droppings” which revealed a whole page of pictures which really didn't seem to match what we had seen. Next I searched for “hawk droppings” which brought up more pictures plus the heartwarming story of a hawk dropping a miracle puppy from the sky. At this point, I became convinced the droppings had not come from a bird. So I entered my next query, “lot of poop in a small area” which brought up a page full of results. After a quick glance, I changed the query to “lot of animal poop in a small area.” Lo and behold, I found an animal forum where someone had the exact same situation in his yard.

I quickly went through the answers, sorting out the the far fetched (“bears or otters”) from the smart ass (“I consider myself wild”) to the most likely (“Sasquatch”). I had Bobo on speed dial when I realized the consensus of the answers was racoons. Apparently this is how raccoons roll and raccoon latrines are very common as well as a serious health hazard. I just wish I had found all of this info before we left the vacation house. Instead I get to spend the next few weeks imagining a party of raccoons talking in Adam Sandler and Rob Schneider voices, “Hey, watch this!”

Meanwhile, every time I do a new internet query, I get pestered with ads like “still looking for poop?” or “click here for more poop pictures” or “history of the poop deck webpage.”