Saturday, June 25, 2005

Bye Bye, Bertha

My playing pal is a club freak. He makes good money, and he just loves to buy golf clubs. I, on the other hand, am a tightwad, sort of a golfer's Jack Benny. I found an old persimmon 4-wood on the course one day, and no one claimed it. I've used it ever since. My first set of clubs stayed with me 20 years.

Well, a couple of years ago, he decided he wanted to try a few different drivers, so he loaned me his Big Bertha War Bird. This driver design was from the starvation victim period. You remember, enormous head, skinny shanks, like a turqoise balloon on a stick.

Longer drives, larger sweet spot: Its promises were a blend of cheap Viagra and an African con artist offering 10% of ill-gotten gains if you'll only give them your bank account number. By the way, you've just won a lottery you never entered.

It sounded like an Little League bat when it connected, with a sort of tinny 'tink'.

Drives off it rose high and far, though. They did so much more often than my old driver, so I guess it did have a larger sweet spot. I grew very fond of that piece of metal, despite its odd color.

Alas, however, my friend has decided to reclaim his lost lamb. I'm going to have to (gasp) buy a driver. There's no rush: I haven't hit a ball since April. You know something, though? The itch is beginning to pick up. I better hurry. In Minnesota, summer is an awful short season.

Does anyone know of one with a sweet spot that wraps completely around the face. And forgiving? I want one that makes St. Francis Assisi look like a drill sergeant.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

A Tabasco Marriage

B.S. (Before Salsa), Americans used to say "If a couple buys a second bottle of Tabasco Sauce, the marriage will last."

That was when Americans liked their food sort of bland, meat and potatoes, short, flat.

Since I've had Bell's Palsy, I like my food flat, too. Oh, not for the same reason: I can't open my mouth more than about 3/4".

I still have the appetite; I just don't have the aperture.

So I specialize in either soft foods, or flat ones, or ones that can be made flat. Spaghetti, Oriental noodles (noodles cut into short lengths to avoid whiplash), rice dishes, mashed potatoes, and the like.

Flat foods include tortillas, fish sticks, cole slaw, sausage, taco chips (although I have to break round ones in half to avoid sawing my mouth, pizza, and so on.

I bought a Whopper the other day. By the time I was done with it, it was a Whimper, a manhole cover of its former self.

The left side of my face is paralyzed, so I've become the king of drool. I remember reading about a musical conductor who carried a little silver box of chili peppers to accessorize his food. My recent accessorization consists of straws and extra napkins.

A bundle of napkins used to last me almost as long as that couple kept their Tabasco. Not any more. I'm on the Kimberly-Clark Preferred Customer list.

What the heck. Maybe instead of having your stomach stapled, a person could just sew half their mouth shut. One eats a lot slower, so when everybody else is ready to go, you're only half done.

As a result, my refrigerator is becoming a historical archive of white takeout boxes. Aren't those why the Chinese invented paper in the first place? Writing? The first words a Chinese sage ever wrote was "Leftover egg foo yung."

Oh, has its July website up, if you didn't come here from there.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

The Mild Bunch

"Sherf, sherf, they's a gang that's just wheeled into town. They've taken over the old Haynes buildin'!"

"Now, calm down, Charley. Whatta they look like?"

"The women is all in these pink pantsuits, sherff, and their hair

"And whatta the men look like, Charley?"

"Well, sherf, they's all got them Sansabelt slacks, them as ain't wearin' Bermuda shorts. I tell you, sherf, the sight of all them varicose veins...."

"Have a sip of water, Charley. What were they ridin'?"

"A few of them was on those little three-wheeled electric carts, sherf. Most of 'em was in those big chromed wheel chairs."

"I guess we're gonna have to call in the National Guard, Charley. That there's the Mild Bunch."


Many of us own houses. As we get older, the nest gets emptier (although with the economy the way it is, the nest may become refilled pretty quickly). Yard work, repairs, property taxes, etc., start to grate on us.

So we start thinking about cashing in our big nest and downsizing, getting something smaller. (Hey, maybe that'll discourage the kids from moving back in.) If we buy another house in a town that has amenities (restaurants, theaters, galleries and museums, etc.), that will take a chunk out of what we gained by selling our big house.

Condos? Do you want to pay $150 and up every month for association fees--and often not be able to control them.

Mobile homes are fun, what with low upkeep (at least in arid climates), but you don't get that much for your money, and every month you pay space rent.

Maybe what we need to do is band together with like-minded folks and find an inexpensive apartment building in a smaller town--and buy it. Hire a manager/handyman, chip in a little extra every month for upkeep and taxes, and cooperate with each other.

I think I'll look up Cooperative living on Google.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Hail-sized golf balls

I wonder if weather forecasters put little labels on their radar screens every time they intone "golf ball-sized hail". The way fighter pilots put the other guys's flags next to the cockpit when they shoot one down.

They never rave about "ping-pong ball-sized hail" or "marble-sized". It's the weatherman's way of being macho enough to stand up to the sports desk. (Doppler radar just doesn't cut it.)

My first year in Minnesota, I golfed at Phalen Muni in St. Paul, a very nice 18-hole track near Lake Phalen (home in colder climes to the Ice Castle). I had moved from California the winter before, and had no experience of heavy weather, Minnesota-style. Cal, after all, only offers fog, rain, sunny, and sweltering. Oh, and an earthquake once in awhile, but the weathermen really can't take credit for those, despite their solemn claim that "heavy rains make the faults slide easier".

Minnesota, on the other hand, has four seasons. Four seasons with complete weather patterns of their own (although three of them sometimes feel like winter).

Back to Phalen: I was using borrowed clubs, had long hair and was wearing bellbottoms (which should tell you how long ago that was. At the time, despite the WWII movies showing gallant Brits and Aussies wearing shorts in Africa while they battled the evil Nazis, I sneered at shorts. At least, until the bellbottoms began binding.)

Sunshine streamed down; then the sky darkened, sirens started whooping, and what to my wondering eye should appear, but golf ball-sized hail bouncing right Ouch.

From under a well-leafed tree, I watched as they piled up in drifts, too, clumps of them in every dip and shallow. The traps were thick with them. They made putting very difficult. And a half-hour after the sun returned in all its blazing glory...they were just a weathercaster's memory.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Identity Theft Welcome Here

Here I am, 62 years old, balding, a scar outlining an escape hatch on the side of my head that covers four titanium screws in the side of my head (if titanium were steel, I'd sport refrigerator magnets), 1.5 eyes and a pirate's patch, a good eye that waters in sympathy whenever the bad one wails (which makes driving at night great fun), out of work since the end of April, weak from operations, enforced bedrest and thus lack of exercise, debts piling up... Heck, if someone wants that identity, they're welcome to it.

Especially if that means I'd get a younger, stronger body, a fresh dose of testosterone (not too much, please), good health, and a second chance. I'll keep the sense of humor, the things I've learned over the years, the friends and family, a few other pertinent elements.

So it's "all systems go" on their taking over my identity. Now, access to my assets? That's another story. They can kiss my assets goodbye: I'll keep them. Not that there's much, but at least they're things I've earned.

Now, my golfing identity is another thing entirely. I enjoy getting out and wandering around on the course, schmoozing with my buddies. My game is not very good.

I am determined to someday shoot my age, because that absolutely guarantees I'll live to 130.

Gee. Maybe I'll keep this identity after all.