Friday, January 28, 2005

Taking one for the team

So, I got sick. It seems irrelevant now that I have come down from my Robotussin high. Not too mention that I feel like Corey Feldman had taken over my body for the last two days and went nuts at the Viper Room. Still, I feel like a new man except for this lingering cough that can't be cured. By the way, how is it that you can have a runny nose and sore throat for a few days, but a cough lasts for weeks. It's like that kid when you were younger that you didn't want hanging around you all the time, because he aggravated you but you couldn't manage to tell it to his face. And every time you went to hang out with your friends this kid would magically appear. Your friends would give you this disgusting look and you would pretend he wasn't there anymore. More and more he keeps showing up and you just want him to go. Until after weeks and weeks of following you around he finds someone else to glom onto. Sorry, Cliffy.

I decided to heed the advice of my wife and visit a doctor this past week. This after I couldn't feel my forehead anymore because it was radiating more heat than the sun. If my head was still on top of my body it was news to me. It was there that it dawned on me how a great of life I have. I mean I looked around the doctor's office and I hate to say it but I was the only young person there. It sad to say this but I was the only one in the room radiating life to a certain degree. It's not say too much considering old people wake up every morning with some type of new ache or pain that makes them considering playing canasta or going to visit the doctor at 5:30am for an 11 am appointment.

My life was looking better, although I probably looked worse than most of them at the present moment. I had a 103-degree fever, a cough than burns like a venereal disease (not that I would know), and exhaustion from coughing. It wasn't long before the nurse called me over. She asked me to step onto a scale. I wasn't in the mood to play games with her like when I was a kid. Pick one foot up while she was writing something down and then place it back down. The weight keeps jumping back and forth. She quickly brought me into an examination room, where they had this fold out board with deli paper on top. I imagined that if I lay down on the board they would roll me up like a sandwhich and slice me down the middle. The room brought me back to my childhood experiences of going to the doctor and sitting on these examination tables/boards. It brought back all those horrible memories of the shots you get when you were a kid. I remember them telling me, it's only going to hurt for a bit. Yeah, stick a needle in your ass 4 times and tell me it won't be sore later on. I was having flashbacks like a soldier back from war. The fever was also making me delusional because at one point I thought I heard her say, "Wow, 103 degrees." But I do recall her telling me that I must feel real bad. No lady, this is how I normally feel all the time. I would have rather you took my temperature the old fashion way. She left and the doctor peered her head in.

The doctor and I had a brief run over my condition and medical history. I wonder what they would do if you answered yes to all their questions. Have you had any surgeries? Why yes, triple bypass, ingrown toenail, and a full frontal lobotomy. Any allergic reaction to drugs? Yes, any that has pain relief medication in them. She checked me over once with the stethoscope and then checked my ears and throat. Then she looked me dead in the face and said I needed rest. O.k. That's not going to cut for me, even though I was sick, I looked at her and said what I came here for was drugs. After much persuasion on my part, basically I told her I need some of the good stuff doc, or I would run up and down the halls of her office in nothing but a patient gown screaming, "look at what they did to me." She succumbed. The prescription was filled in a matter of minutes not too mention the rest I needed. Next time you hear someone say, "All you need is some rest." Just smile and say, "Thanks jackass for the diagnosis."

Sunday, January 23, 2005

What the Blog

Why try figuring it out? It's all part of the master plan. I have to decide today whether I am going to go out to dinner for my birthday or if we will just eat at home. That's the decisions you make when you make that finally leap of commitment into the abyss we call marriage. It's not a big birthday, for I am only turning 29. Although, it's a year away from the big 30. I have already come to the forgone conclusion that I will be celebrating the 2nd annual 28th birthday for myself. No more growing up. That's for suckers and guys like Sean Connery. By the way, he has to be like 50 years old for the last 30 years. I saw that unforgettable master piece of a movie he made, "A League of Extraordinary Men", and I swear he must think he is still James Bond.

Anyways the options are abundant for my birthday bash. Dinner at my favorite restaurant in New Orleans or a nice dinner at home? Still don't know what to decide. So, I will take you down memory lane for one of the worst birthday parties I ever had. Everyone has at least one birthday party they want to forget, and I am not talking about the one in which you don't remember because of you tried to match the beverages consumed to the number of years that equals your age. It was my 23rd birthday. No one to hang out with. Plus, I am very low key about birthdays because they really have no purpose other than to bring people together to celebrate their ineffectiveness to remember how old you are. "How old are you again?" "Geez, I never would have thought you were that old." Or better yet, "Savor up the good years, because it's all down hill after this."

Back to my thoughts, 23rd and I have nothing to do. I decided to finally mentioned to my boss at the time that it was my birthday, thinking it would get me out of work for the day. My laziness exposed. Still, my boss had the great idea of taking me out to a birthday dinner of my choice. Just for a point of reference, I was living in Lake Charles, Louisiana at the time. Birth place of the phrase, "That's your cousin, mine too."
My options consisted of Long John Silvers, Darryl's (which really is a Clint Eastwood "Any which way but loose" honky-tonk bar that allows you to throw peanut shells on the floor for decorative purposes) and Applebees. I really need no thought process in this matter as I choose my friendly neighborhood bar and grill, Applebees.

It was a Friday night, so of course it was packed. Not too mention we had only a hour dinner break from work because I was working at a dump of a t.v. station. If you've never worked in t.v., my advice is don't. The work hours are not conducive to the lifestyle that any normal human being is used to other than prison guards and Denny's waitress'. We had to sit at the bar in order for us to get in and out under an hour. I had to be back at work to videotape someone getting evicted from their mobile home and then set it on fire so that no one else could ever live there again. As you would know the food took forever to come out, so we had to throw the food down our gullets in a matter of seconds. The conversation at the counter was horrendous. I thought it would be great just to have someone to talk to on my birthday, but I would have rather eat alone in the bathroom. When the dinner was all over, I was then bombarded with a flurry of disgruntled Applebees' waiters singing me happy birthday. They all looked like they would rather be singing happy birthday to Louie the dishwasher guy than me. I couldn't eat the delicious brownie sunday because I was running late, so I decided to put it in a to go box. Which I didn't eat until I got off work at 11pm and proceeded to eat by myself. The only happiness I got was a phone call from my girlfriend at the time (now my wife) who was living in California. I don't understand why you remember the worst things that happen to you and easily forget the good things.

So, I think I have made up my decision. Definitely going out to dinner for my birthday. Now, I have to decide where to eat. I know one thing is for sure, it's not Applebees.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Could this really be true?

I know. I know. It's been a couple days since I last posted, and for all two of you that will read this let me explain why it's been awhile. First of all I tried writing after drinking a bottle of nyquil followed by a fifth of wild turkey. It's known to cure 4 unknown rare diseases in South American, but the side effect puts you in one hell of a coma. Not too mention a good mood. I think the cold is gone, but I may have somewhat of a lingering hangover. Ok here it goes.

Man bites dog.
Baby speaks 4 different languages.
80 year old woman swims Cuyahoga River.
Bullet disintegrates upon hitting rogue priest.

Which story sounds like it could be real? I would venture to say anyone able to swim that mess of a river in Cleveland would live to tell the story. It's the most contaminated river in the world. Worse than the river next to the Springfield nuclear power plant on the Simpsons.. Anything that can catch on fire can't be good to swim in. Baby speaks 4 languages, common on. I can barely speak one. Man bites dog. That's actually a true story especially in parts of West Virginia and Kentucky this seems to happen on a daily basis.

Still, the story that I was told to be the most authentic is: " bullet disintegrating upon hitting rogue priest." I know it sounds like it can't be real. Still, Richard Hatch went from being a Survivor to Al Capone in a little over a year. And as long as David Hasselhoff keeps selling records in Germany, I know there is hope for me to win the Ed McMahon Sweepstakes. By the way, my vote for worse actor trying to be a musician would fall to Eddie Murphy. The image from that one music video haunts me to this day. All I see is him dancing in some fake Sahara Desert scene in a black leather outfit singing "I want to... party all the time, party all time....Party all the time."

Back to my original thought. One of my students precedes to tell me about his weekend activities in which he went to a church lock-in. This is where they lock all the kids inside a gym where they have various activities scheduled for them such as a church service, storytelling, pillow fights, talent show, and probably plenty of thumbwrestling. At storytime one of the religious advisers tells the kids a story about a priest who was shot in the back while saying mass. The student prefaces the story with some historical text dating back before Vatican II. Which means the priests usually said mass with their backs to the congregation. Supposedly, someone stood up during the mass and proceeded to shoot the priest in the back. The priests unknowingly continues with the mass as if nothing happened, and then when he finishes the sermon he discovers a bullet hole in his robe. Now, this is were it gets real interesting. The priest was wearing a scapular, which is a tiny thread-like necklace usually adorned with a patron saint attached to it. Literally the thing could snap if you picked it up too fast. This necklace had an imprint of a bullet marking with dust all around it, and suprisingly the priest had no injuries.

What shocks me throughout this entire story is not the fact that the priests' scapular miraculously stopped this bullet, but that someone shot a priest in the back and that no one said or did anything. Let me try to come up with some reasons. Reason number 1. The priest must have been really, and I mean really bad at giving sermons. To the point that he was keeping people there way too long and they needed to fix this problem quickly. Reason number 2. What kind of neighborhood is this, that someone walks into a church fires a gun at a priest and they let him continue with the mass? Why don't they have metal detectors at the front doors? So, the congregation must be very religious people. They didn't want to disrupt the priest from the cerimony of the mass. Reason number 3. The priest wanted to show how powerful the scapular can be when put to the test. My next question is, why haven't we equipped all of our troops with these scapulars. We could definitely see the potential in saving a few lives. Plus, they can't cost but 10 cents to make, and by military standards that's like 5 bucks a pop. Reason number 4. It was another priest. He probably had been contemplating this for years and devised the plan to take over the head priest's job. In order to do it, he had to wait for the right time, just before the head priest turnes his back to the congregation. Yet, he didn't think the head priest would be wearing a scapular. Not too mention the odds of hitting it directly on the 2 by 3 inch card of the patron saint. Last reason, Reason 5. Prices of scapulars were way down. So, the Vatican tried to make up a story to drum up mid-seasonal sales. Only problem is, the story was only circulated in teenage church lock-ins where about 3/4 of the kids are busy text messaging each other from 3 feet away or discussing the latests ramifications of Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston breaking up.
Remember nyquil lasts a lot longer than the prescribed 4-6 hours. So take small sips.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Latin is a dead language?

I have gotten some comments about the title of my blog. No, it's not my dog's name. And no it's not the place where I work? I know it sounds stupid, but let me explain. It's latin. That's right, LATIN. Veritas means "truth". Una Veritas means "one truth". Yeah, it's sounds like something Cliff Claven would say. "Cochise!" Still all those days I spent sleeping through the dead language course paid off, and something stuck invariably during one of those deep rem sleeps.

So why Latin? Why not Spanish or Italian? Or the language of love? Because I don't know those languages and last time I checked my Yiddish was pretty shabby too. Plus, putting it in English would call for some type of really long winded philosophical explanation of St. Augustine's search for the truth. When all I've really can explain is those latin brain cells are the only ones working after 7 years of undergraduate work in general studies. Yeah, I stuck with Latin. It's a dead language which no one speaks except high school latin teachers and some well unknown scholars at prestigous universities. That leaves me a pretty good chance that no one will ever care to know what it means.

After this is all said and done. It all amounts to a febble attempt by myself to feel that I am somewhat educated. Ha! Maybe it's enough to impress those few people who really can't find time to translate the words. Or it's just me claiming to know something of which I really don't know anything. Still, I feel that we all search for the truth in our lives. Even the guy who talks incessantly to himself by the bus stop and smells of thunderbird. Or, the person who screams real loud at the television when a stupid commercial comes on but doesn't change the channel and then tells you "watch this". Or, the person who has the most random stuff in the grocery checkout line. (Yesterday, this guy had a box of white zinfindel, one single roll of toilet paper, a steel scrubby, two cans of pickled pears, a bag of charcoal, and some radishes)

I hope this explains a little about what I search for in my life. One last thing for you sports nuts, Doug Mientkiewicz is the man for keeping that baseball. Way to go, Dougie! No way in heck should he give the ball back for free. It's like Matt Damon should have done in the movie, Rounders, when he was playing KGB the first time around. You should always walk away with a winning hand instead of a losing one.

Friday, January 14, 2005

What's so funny about that?

You ever had one of those days when everything you said was witty and funny? Now, have your ever had one of those days when you tried so hard to be funny you end up losing your timing and nothing seems funny. Well, I had one of those days when I wasn't so funny. It seems like that happens a lot to me, but then again I am no stand-up comedian.

I remember Robin Williams once saying that the hardest part of being a comedian was trying to be funny all the time. You can't be. That's why you are so vulnerable as a comic and a person.

Today, I got struck by a cold. Who would guess that by living in New Orleans where the weather changes 20 degrees faster than you can fix a dark roux. My whole day felt off. Everything was moving in fast motion as I moved about in slow motion. Kids would say hi to me, and it would take me a few minutes to recognize who they were. Soon a cough started to develop that would put a smile on Dr. Kervorkian's face. One of my students asked politely, after I finished a five minute tornado flurry of coughing and wheezing, if I needed to be resucitated. I looked at the 30 teenage boys in my classroom and told them that if I faint I don't want mouth to mouth. Just let me die. They got a kick out of that. Too bad I was serious.

One last thing I tried to do that was funny and it just didn't seem to come out right. I had promised a student, Brian, that I would visit his father's deli shop this weekend to try his famous roastbeef po-boy. If you have ever lived in New Orleans, there is nothing quite like a hot roastbeef po-boy. It's about the sloppiest, ugliest, and most delicious thing you could ever eat. After I pledge my promise for the hundredth time that I would try this famous sandwhich from his father's deli, I decided to be funny again. I adjusted my tone and said to Brian in a straight of a voice, " If the sandwhich stinks you're going to fail my class."
He gave me this sad puppy dog look as if I had took his favorite chew toy away. So, I let him down gentle, with the I'm just joking routine. He then asked if he was passing my class? I said you just took a test and it looks promising.
I tried to regather and rephrase my answer, as if my wounded pride could take anymore, but all that came out was to tell your dad that you're doing great in my class because I don't want your dad spitting in my sandwhich.
Brian retaliated real quickly, "My dad won't spit in your sandwhich, he'll just charged you twice." Great. Try to be funny and it always backfires. My advice, don't try so hard to be funny because most of the time you're just not that funny.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Nothing As It Seems

The clouds roll over blue is now gray when you see me,
sun can be presuading as light overcomes all that we dread,
a small gust blows through my hair,
can you believe it? Ask me again,
streets are filled with dirt
as calamity blows time out
there is a tiny piece of me in you
and nothing is as it seems

Black Course

“Warning: The Black Course is an extremely difficult course which is recommended only for highly skilled golfers.”

They are few things in life that scare you so much that you want to do it. Still, there is something behind those chilling words that makes a man think, “it can’t be that bad.” But those words are inscribed in front of the first tee box on the Black course at Bethpage Park for a reason. That reason is to make you think twice before teeing one up. And on a frigid morning in the fall, as the frost melted off the first fairway I stared out into the belly of the beast, and to be honest I was a little worried. Not at the history or the local fables, but by the course itself.

Thinking back to a cold rainy day in northern Alabama as I sat in a bowling alley with my father trying to celebrate his birthday, I thought about my next big challenge. By the way is there any better way to have fun than to be locked inside a bowling alley in northern Alabama on Tuesday packed with people? In all honesty, I had a wonderful time playing golf with my pops the previous two days and wished we had more time. But rain had capsized my final day and the opportunity to play the final round on the Robert Trent Jones Trial. As luck would have it my pops would end up beating me at bowling. He somehow would magically bowl the game of his life only when we would play against each other. And as soon as I returned home from my golf trip, I was made aware of a promise that I made in July; to play the Black Course at Bethpage Park. My buddy, Walter Ruscoe, who I had played golf with many of times throughout the summer was making sure I upheld my end of the promise. Without any hesitation, because we didn’t have time, we made plans to head out next Monday and play Tuesday. From that point on I couldn’t wait to go.

Bethpage Park is a state run park that is nestled in the heart of Long Island right off highway 495. The park has five golf courses: the red, the green, the brown, the blue, and most famous the black. The black course is most famous for it’s storied past. Different fables have circulated around from locals that the course was home to one of the famous Snead/Nelson matches after the 1960 PGA Championship. These two were bitter rivals and if there was a golf course around these two would be on it playing each other. Legend has it that Bryon Nelson was leading Sam Snead by a stroke going into the last hole. Snead realizing his only chance of beating Nelson would be to out drive him, and Nelson knew that would difficult since he was such a great long ball hitter. So, Nelson steps up to the tee at 18 and hits a smashing drive up the fairway, far away his best drive of the day. Sneed looked over at Nelson and then in a fit of frustration walked off the tee box and left before the match was over. This is just one of the stories I would come to inherit after spending a night in the Oak Room sharing war stories with the locals.
The black course is the longest of the five courses reaching a distance of 7,279 yards with not one house on the course (unless you count the assistant greens keepers behind the 9th) and no golf cart paths throughout the entire course. It was also home of the 2002 U.S. Open Golf tournament. The Open for those who don’t know is the people’s major. It’s the only one of the five major golf tournaments that anyone can qualify for. You, me and even the kid who delivers your newspaper can play in this tournament. The problem is you have to qualify. And that’s no easy task. Still, it’s one of the most prestigious tournaments and not to mention the hardest to win. Most of the time the U.S. Open’s are held on private courses or courses that would cost you a Lexus car note to play. Instead this past year it was held for the first time at a municipal golf course (Bethpage Park), which costs 32 bucks for New Yorkers and 62 for out of towners. This can’t be right? And then Golf Magazine goes the extra step and ranks it in the top 50 golf courses in the World to play!!!!!

Despite contrary beliefs to the normal traditional way of making a golf reservation things are done a little differently at Bethpage. You ask any guy who lives in Long Island what does on his weekends and he’ll tell ya’ it consists of leaving home at 1am to get in line for a tee time at the black course. Sounds sick, just think about it now since every guy in the surrounding area can go play golf at a U.S. Open course for 62 bucks. The time to first get in line has just increased from 1am to 4pm the day before. The standard procedure for reservations on the black course consist of: 1) arriving 24 hours before you want to play, 2) parking your car in a numbered spot overnight with at least one person in the car at all times, 3) sleeping in the car overnight until 5am when you will receive a ticket and bracelet, 4) then get into another line at the pro shop to get your tee time and pay your fees. This is a common sacrifice made by all who travel to play the most prestigious public course in the world. Of course I was not looking forward to sleeping in a car overnight, but then again it would be an unbelievable experience.

Walter booked everything days ahead of time. We thought about this long and hard. Since we had all summer to plan this golf adventure. He would get us a minivan for the overnight slumber party and we would have plenty of refreshments to keep us happy while we waited. Another friend of mine, Jose Pires, would be joining us later in the afternoon to indulge in the excitement of playing Bethpage. This would put us at a threesome and either they would pair us up with a single or we would eventually break up some friendships. We were so nervous about arriving too late to get a spot that we left at 9am on Monday morning to head out. Granted it takes about 2 ½ hours to get to Bethpage from Connecticut.
When the sun rose on Monday it greeted us with cool temperatures that left any dew on my car frozen. Walter greeted me at my door with an excited smile and gasped, “We’re gonna play Bethpage Black!!!” As we crawled into the minivan there was little doubt that it wouldn’t be great experience. Most of the ride down to the Bridgeport ferry was in silence as I slept in the passenger seat. When I awoke we were loading up the car onto the ferry. The ferry had a look about it that arose a feeling of comfort. They cram about 30-40 cars and trucks into the belly of this ferry, and then you wait out the ride. I had yet to see Long Island or cross the sound. As the boat shoved off the dock and headed out for its destination we moved to the front of the boat. Outside the sun was blazing across the water glaring into our eyes as if it were starring us down. A cool gust blew hard into our faces, but we didn’t leave the front. The view was too much to leave. A small sailboat crossed our path about 2 miles ahead of us slowing moving it’s way on the cold morning. Walter and I shared the silence of the morning that is so peaceful it makes one believe that it’s so nice to be here. The boat moved slowly toward the island, weaving in between boats in the harbor and docking in the heart of Port Jefferson. We had a lot on our minds, most importantly getting to the park before other cars starting lining up.
Hopping from routes to interstates, like a NASCAR driver positioning himself for the final lap, the distance to our final resting spot came about quickly. Round Swamp Road/ Bethpage exit 52 off interstate 495, is a memorable exit for those who’ve taken the trip and reason for our excitement to begin. It’s amazing the amount of time that passes when you are taking in the sights around you. A small diner here, a pizza joint on the corner, and an house with a sign outside stating “Bobby Hull Insurance: best in all of Long Island.” The park has a windy road that takes you around the golf courses and to the front entrance.
“Welcome to Bethpage Park. Home of the 2002 U.S. Open.” At last a sign of hope that makes Walter and I smile at the possibility that this is going to be unbelievable. The clubhouse stood right in front of us with tall pine trees lining the road to the front door. We drove up to the clubhouse and asked for directions for the overnight parking. A local pointed us in the direction we needed. As the car drove in circle searching for the right spot to crash, I kept spinning my head to see the course. Finally we found our spot. Number 2 in line. Whew! Talk about a sigh of relief. I looked over to Walter and he looked back, “We’re gonna play Bethpage Black!!” Walter a man of eloquent words spoke the honest truth, and his words reverberated inside my head for about an hour. The clubhouse was immaculate. You would never guess this was a public golf course. I have been in trailers, shacks, warehouses, clubhouses that could hold two to three people at most, and places that are like dance halls with folding tables used for registration, but this place ranked up with there with the best. Of course we stopped to buy shirts and balls and all the tourists stuff, then we appeased our stomachs to some food at the Oak Gallery.
The Oak Gallery was the pub for the golf course. A place were you tally up your scores and share in the humiliation of what you just went through. As Walter puts it, “you realize what it’s like to be a golfer.” The pub is filled with bay windows looking out to the 9th hole and the 18th hole of the Black course. You could also see the green course being trampled by the golf carts and the golf clubs of many. We had a few drinks and listened to some locals tell stories of the days when the course wasn’t so populated with traveling golfers. The bartender told us that the black course is closed on Mondays to alleviate the high traffic usually accustomed with public courses. They also don’t allow hardly anyone to play on the black after 3pm. I kind of chuckled thinking of how many times I have trounced my clubs out to play twilight golf at some rink dinky course. As Walter and I walked back to the minivan for a long night ahead of us our third party showed up. This was going to be good. Jose Pires, another guy from work, pulled up and parked his car in the number 3 spot. I remarked to the both of them that it was funny to not see that many cars lined up. Still the night had not fallen and we had some time to kill. Soon the sun began to set down and I crossed the street to see it land gracefully in its bed. Walter, Jose and I watched the sun set from the 8th fairway on the brown course; it was one of the most surreal sights I have seen in a while. We almost had to drag Walter off the fairway cause he was in awe of the sight. The sky-meshed colors like a painter mixing watercolors. Purple, red, and yellow filled up the horizon beckoning the darkness of the night to follow. Jose and I threw a football for a while to pass time and then we watched some Monday Night Football. Still we all were worried about the next morning. I crawled into the back of the minivan to sleep, but I couldn’t get any sleep with the thoughts of the course running in my head. The longest par 5 in U.S. Open history hung in the back of my mind stirring nightmares.
What was only about 7 hours lasted what seemed like an eternity. We awoke to cars honking and people bustling about their cars at 5am. Darkness surrounded everything in sight but only a few headlights, which lit up a path in front of us. Someone walked up to the car and asked how many playing today. Three!! We all had bracelets placed on our hands then were given tickets to get in line for reservations. As quickly as one can move about at 5am we ran into the clubhouse only to stand in line for 10 minutes and get our tee time. 8:06am was when we would tee off. Outside it was about 30 degrees. Now when I say it was cold outside, I think seeing a bunch of grown men cry out “Shit it’s cold,” or “I’m freezing my ass off” reinstates the belief it could be difficult to play today. I kept praying for the sun to rise. Thinking back now, I think we all were. Word got around quickly that frost was on the course and we would have to wait until 9am to tee off. We all got changed and went inside for breakfast. There we didn’t discuss much. Just say in silence while we ate and focused on the task at hand.
Soon enough we were standing in front of that dreadful sign on the first tee box. There had to be about 15 guys fidgeting around trying to stay warm and anticipating their turn up at the tee. I stared down the first fairway almost like a boxer stares down his opponent as they give the instructions. “No hits below the belt. No rabbit punches. And when the bell rings go to your respective corners.” I am not gonna back down now. It’s me and the course for 18 holes and I am gonna love every minute of it. The morning frost layered over the course for about an hour. Soon enough the sun raised from it’s slumber. It greeted the course in between branches and over treetops. I stood at that first tee box, cold and nervous. The toughest shot in all of golf- is the first one. Once you hit that first one it’s all downhill from that point. It definitely sets the tone. As we all walked down the first fairway I took my time to soak up this whole atmosphere. This wasn’t just hallowed ground but unreal beauty. The birds were chirping, the silence was peaceful, and the course was in excellent condition. I am going to leave out specific details about this course because no words would due it true justice. It’s a must experience. I can tell you that it’s long, tough, and challenging. After every swing I admired everything about it, and as I walked up every fairway I took a mental picture for my own album. I can’t say that I have played a more difficult golf course in my life, but then again I can’t say I have played them all. The course and I battled it out to the finish. It would have been a draw if it had to be scored cause the course beat me on the scorecard but I won in capturing the essence of golf. There can’t be much more to golfing than the chance to take on the best and finish saying it was awesome. Walter made the old Milwaukee statement of the day as we walked off the 18th, “if your gonna sacrifice to play some golf, I wouldn’t have done it anyplace else.” A famous author once wrote a book about golf titled “A good walk spoiled”, and still to this day I still believe it’s all what you put into something that makes it so rewarding.

The Constellations that Bind Us

Life is made of little impulses that change the outcome of events and who were are. Without these impulsive moments we would never be able to understand how much someone cares for you or how much we are willing to give in order to get what we want.

As leaves fall to the ground, the sun desperately splashes through the bare limbs creating shadows of a skeleton tree. Bright colors are painted throughout the skyline as the sun rests itself into its soft bed. There are few things that could be more perfect for Stan than the obvious. A crisp, cool wind ripped through his body and the chill made him shiver. Why is everything that seems so important so far away?

Alone in a tiny diner on the South side of town, Stan sat in silence. The waitress brought over a hot pot of coffee, but he waved her off before she came to close. His eyes were glazed over a slice of warm apple pie that begged for his attention. A tiny scoop of vanilla ice cream melted down the side of the pie making a lava-like landslide of white liquid on his plate. Stan looked out the window into the desolate street. It was barren; not a soul to be found anywhere just street lights illuminating circles on the road. A song was playing on the jukebox, slowly a smile crept across Stan’s face. “Goodnight Sweetheart”, by the Spaniels always brought back some good memories.

He remembers the last time he had heard that song. It was late into a Saturday night in Playa del Rey at a 50’s diner on Marina Coast Way. There he shared a moment with the girl who had his heart right now. They had just been out for a night on the town and decided to stop in to get something to eat. He had ordered the same thing he always got, slice of apple pie, and she ordered some coffee. They started to laugh out loud about something that had happened earlier in the evening. Then the song came on. As the song played on he began to sing to the beautiful girl across the table from him. She shyly smiled at the boyish charm Stan was showing to her at the present moment. It was as if he were serenading her, but only he did it in a unique way.

His eyes transfixed themselves back onto the apple pie in front of him, but his heart was not into eating it. He trudged himself out of the booth, grabbed his big brown winter coat and slipped outside into the night. It was late into the night, as one could see the red dawn bursting upon the horizon. Stan drove back to his apartment winding through the stretchy roads still thinking about that distant moment. It too was begging for his attention. His breath was the only thing he would met tonight as it hung about him in the wintry frost of early morning. The stars in the sky were still shining brightly above him. It was a beautiful thing to see so many stars lining the sky as if it were a backlit canopy with holes punched in it. He stood there staring up into the cold night sky for what seemed like an eternity. Cassiopeia, Orion, the Big Dipper and the little Dipper, the unbelievable constellations that greeted him every night but tonight meant more to him. Those very same stars that lie above his head on this early morning would be the same ones that lie above that special girl whom he thought of so much. He wanted to say something but the words mean nothing if there is no one to hear them. Things change, people change and yet those stars congregating the sky always remained the same. When he needed her, he pushed her away. That was something he regretted dearly. There was nothing he could do, she would never forgive him. Though he couldn’t go on living without ever telling her what he really felt.

A beam of headlights lit the driveway up one last time, and the rumbling of gravel shifted around below the car. The roads were empty with the thoughts of what he should do. Stan’s gut was telling him to leave, but he didn’t know where to go. Soon the morning sun rose it’s weary head and as he stopped at a red light the day suddenly became much clearer. The long stretch of road capsized his feelings of helplessness. As the car moved onward he spotted a New Hampshire license plate that read “Live Free or Die.” Kind of startling to think of the implications, but it awoke a definitive feeling inside. One that would change even the stars in the sky. No more living to get by, it was time to start living to be heard. The car exited off the interstate allowing the silence of morning to deafen his thoughts of the final destination. A red sign read across the steady eyes. The world must stop, and it most certainly did.

The jet engines roared furiously down the runway as Stan’s hand gripped the arm of the chair tightly. She used to calm him down during flights by putting her hand over his. Just the touch of her hand would ease all his troubles like a mother’s touch would her child. Security blanket, that’s what he wanted but all he would have is the memory of her to keep him company through the flight. Once the plane landed he thought he made the biggest mistake of his life.
“What if she doesn’t care about what I think? What if she doesn’t even like me anymore? Or what if she has a boyfriend?”

Life is made of little impulses that change the outcome of events and who were are. Without these impulsive moments we would never be able to understand how much someone cares for you or how much we are willing to give in order to get what we want. It was Stan’s time to make that move. He got into a cab and headed towards the place he had been dreaming of for so many lonely nights. It was raining heavily outside. Almost as if the sky had decided that it had taken enough and just opened up to the world below. How had he gone from having a slice of apple pie in a diner, to hearing a song that brought back a memory, and now standing at that beautiful girl’s doorstep? All of his confidence seemed to be shot at the present moment for he had a tough time bring himself to ring the doorbell. He was getting soaked from head to toe. Every inch of his body was wet, his hair was matted down, but he couldn’t feel a thing cause he was too numb. Sooner or later he would have to ring the bell. The bell resonated throughout the halls inside and the door slowly opened to present him to his new world. She stood there shocked pleasantly by his grace. He smiled sheepishly at her direction. As they stood in each other’s presence the rain began to simmer and he started to speak. Those unbelievable eyes just melted his heart away, and no words came out of his mouth. She leaned over to tell him to come inside by grabbing his hand, just then all the regret and worry he had left his body. He was happy once again. And those stars, which almost never change, were looking down at him again making everything feel all right.