Category Archives: biographical

The Good, The Bad, and The Mostly Debauched

Making the Hoovers Great Again

Myrtle Beach 2016

THE MOSTLY DEBAUCHED

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Our story begins in a smoked filled, custom built Boeing 787 Dreamliner.  The smoke being generated by four elegantly dressed gentlemen, puffing away between bouts of oratory, on expensive Cuban cigars.  In the background, playing on the 72 inch screen is the movie Centurion, a tale about a massacred Roman Legion north of Hadrian’s Wall; next up is The Eagle of the Ninth, a tale about recovering the Eagle lost in The Centurion.  Yes, dear readers, our intrepid travelers have just returned from a month steeped in Roman history as they tramped all through Southern France and down all the way to the boot heel of Italy.   Tramped is a relative term as their notion of trekking involves state of the art Land Rovers driven by professionals who also double as bar tenders and cooks.  The magnificent tents, gifts from a prince in Saudi Arabia, that they call home for the trip rival 5 star rooms anywhere.  Who are these pampered, over-indulgent, seekers of knowledge and a permanent drunk?  Let me introduce the members of the sports management team of Dewey, Cheetum and Howe.

  • Rocco Ian MacDougal – age 51 born in Dover, DE of an Italian mother and Scottish father. This mixed heritage explains his drinking preferences of Sangria in the morning and Chivas Regal after noon.  Took part in many black-ops as an Army Ranger, none of which can he talk about but he has let it slip that one had something to do with Saddam Hussein.   One of the top agents employed by the Sports Management Agency of Dewey, Cheatum and Howe, he is now a full partner, albeit without his name on the marquee.
  • Samuel Dewey – age 66 born in Ogallala, NE.  Graduated from Renssalaer Polytechnic Institute in 1970.  His friends call him CR from his earlier career as a corporate raider.  Indeed, the founding of DC&H was as a result of a corporate takeover.  His business acumen is so sharp that he has been married and divorced three times and has never had to pay a settlement or alimony despite being one of the 50 wealthiest Americans..  He drinks Stoli Elit before, during and after breakfast and switches to Southern Comfort at lunch.
  • Vincent Cheatum – 64 born in Piney Green, NC, a little fart of a town just outside of the largest Marine Corps base on the East coast, Camp Lejeune, where his father settled after retiring from The Marines as a highly decorated Master Sgt.  After a brief stint as a roadie for The Grateful Dead, Vinny followed his dad’s footsteps and also retired from the Marines as a Gunnery Sergeant, hence his nickname of Gunny.  His beverages of choice are Schlitz and Jack Daniels.
  • Clyde Howe – 75 born in Altoona, PA.  He is a distant relative of Lord Richard Howe, the British commander during part of The Revolutionary War.  Graduated from The Naval Academy in Annapolis in 1959 and had a minor role in The Bay of Pigs Invasion.  Also, it was his ship that was fired upon by a North Vietnamese patrol boat in the Gulf of Tonkin.  The Ancient Mariner, as he is known by, retired as a Rear Admiral.  Has always expressed great admiration for the movie, The Big Lebowski so he drinks White Russians day and night.  The exception to this is when he brings out a 29 year old Cragganmore single malt Scotch that he sips while smoking Cuban cigars.

“It was Alesia, damnit”, yelled Clyde, his hands shaking so much that his scotch sloshed over the sides, “Alesia was Caesar’s greatest victory, bar none.  The engineering alone ranks that battle higher than any other.”

“I respectfully disagree.  Clearly Caesar’s finest hour was defeating Magnus at Pharsalus.” replied Rocco.  “Engineering!”, Rocco snarled, pointing his cigar at Clyde, “That was against a bunch of tribal pussies.  Pharsalus was against Romans.”  “Besides,” he continued after exhaling a series of smoke rings, “being a direct descendant of Mark Antony I think qualifies me as an expert on the subject.”

“Oh for the love of Mithras.  I’ll have you know, you scion of a traitor..” Clyde paused for a moment to belch and to regain his train of thought.

Vinny popped open a can of Schlitz with one hand while crushing an empty with the other one.  “I sincerely hope that you two will cease and desist this ongoing, never ending, pointless discussion.  I’m trying to watch the movie.  That painted Pict lady is kinda hot.”

Sam staggered against the lounge chair he was trying to sit in resulting in a wave of Stoli crashing upon the front of his Armani slacks.  “Damn turbulence.  I’m gonna have a talk with the pilot, bastard probably did that on purpose.”, Sam said while holding his vodka violated pant leg out away from his body.  “There was no turbulence, excepting of the drunken walk variety.”, responded Rocco with a big grin.

“Who the hell asked for your opinion?”, Sam yelled, “in fact, why the hell did we make you a partner?  You lost our best client by letting Ocho retire; by the way are we still making money off of his endorsements?”

Rocco scratched his head, and looked around wondering if he could find someplace to hide but even a 787 Dreamliner is limited in that respect.  “Well, Rocco, I asked you a simple question.  A simple yes or no would be a good place to start.”, said Sam as he stripped off his sodden pants to reveal a pair of boxers sporting the cast from The Big Bang Theory.

Marjorie Detwiler has been employed for these last 10 years by Dewey, Cheetum and Howe, as Director of Excursions and Executive Flight Attendant.  At five feet, 11 inches tall, Marjorie stood taller than all of the partners.  She received a Masters in Sports Management & Entertainment from Harvard while playing shooting guard on the women’s NCAA basketball team and was an Honorable Mention All American.  Little in her college experience, however, prepared her for employment with this group of semi-hedonistic, inebriation record setting, globe trotting golf and adventure seekers.  A perfect example was now playing itself out as Marjorie entered the lounge with her clipboard to brief her boys on their itinerary for the next week.  Seeing Sam standing in his underwear caught her attention right away but it wasn’t the pictures of Sheldon and Penny that drew her eyes.  No, this wasn’t the first time she had been witness to various states of undress; not the first time the veneer of professionalism that she strove to maintain no matter what the circumstance had cracked as she unsuccessfully stifled a chuckle. Peeking out of the front of the Big Bang boxers was one-eyed Sammy.

“What’s everyone staring at?”, asked Vinny as he followed the stares of his companions, “Oh my! Donkey man is showing off again, I see.”  “Is nothing sacred with you people?”, said Sam as he reached down and cradled one-eyed Sammy in his hands, “This piece of artistry in the flesh is of Biblical proportion and is so mentioned in Ezekiel 20:23, and I paraphrase for the squeamish, ‘and the women lusted after men hung like donkeys and whose emissions are as from a horse.’  So be a little more respectful, if you please.”  Sam then put one-eyed Sammy back behind Penny and Sheldon.  He looked at Rocco and thought that there was something he was going to say to Rocco but damned if he could remember what it was.  “I’m gonna get some fresh pants if anyone wants to come watch.”, Sam said and headed off to his suite.

THE GOOD

We are one week away from our annual visit to the hub of The Confederacy, although now instead of rice, indigo and cotton plantations tended by unwilling participants in that pristine agrarian society, there are acres of landscape modified into the curse word inducing, club flinging geographic phenomena of golf courses.  As has been typical of year’s past, the closer to departure we get, the more verbose we become; our excitement building to a symphonic crescendo.  This stoking of our desire to golf again is what sustains us through the long dreary months we are held captive by the gods of seasonal atmospheric conditions, El Nino and climate change.  The unhappy irony of this pent up, ever building crescendo is that by the third hole of the first day that crescendo becomes a white foamed wave, crashing furiously against the rocks of reality.  Thus I have come upon the idea to do dramatic readings from my novel in progress, Clash of Empires, thereby restoring the morale of my aging, battered friends; restoring a calmness to their tortured souls.  I was expecting heaps of excited anticipatory responses from my fellow travelers but instead was met with a torpid, ‘yeah, okay’, type of reply.  Except from Rick; he was so captivated by the idea that he suggests we dress in costume and play out the scenes.  Rick has recently retired from active employment and I am concerned for the health of his mind.

THE BAD

“Hello again.  This is Jim Nantz once again bringing to you live, the antics and the undeniably bad golf that is their stock in trade, The Hoovers in Myrtle Beach.  With me once more is my good friend and colleague, Sir Nick Faldo.  I must say you’re looking pretty dapper for a man who just a few hours ago was stuffing one dollar bills anywhere he could at a local Gentlemen’s Club.”

“Always a pleasure, Jim.  I guess those kids just make me feel young again.  But more to the point, what in the realm of Aphrodite’s tits are we doing broadcasting these buffoons?”

“In the contract old buddy.  Seems we were bought out by that sports management group, Dewey, Cheetum and Howe and they want to promote Ocho, so here we are.”

“Well I have news for you old chum, they are on the way here, or so I’m told.  Flying into Myrtle on that damned Dreamliner they own.  Coming in from Amsterdam of all places.  Probably hanging out at one of those cafes smoking who knows what and making asses of themselves.”

THE GOOD

Ocho awoke after a restful night on his lavishly appointed couch in the posh Hoover mansion, Chez Rick’s.  Ocho has by tradition provided the coffee for this week of golf and giggles and this year has brought two very good beans from Thanksgiving Coffee; a Kona Blend(cuz I can’t afford the real thing) and a nice Guatemalan.  Soon the sound of the grinder turning the beans of the gods into a brew-able consistency echoes off the walls of the condo kitchen.  A moment later the process of creating the elixir of salvation is made manifest by the aroma, an aroma that announces that the new day has begun and it is fucking glorious.

As a cost saving ploy and a chance to further enhance our male bonding experience, we are cooking dinners in for a few nights.  Ocho not only contributes to the workings of the intestinal regions with the morning infusion of the elixir of salvation, he is doubling his efforts for this evening’s meal.  Ocho is making chili; not too hot, just enough btu action to make you feel glad to be alive and feasting on this culinary miracle.  With Jimmy Two Birds working that Ronco Slice and Dice on an onion, Joey demonstrating his can opening expertise and Ocho putting it all together, how could it be anything other than a gourmet’s delight.  Every breath is soon punctuated with the smell of onion, garlic, beans, beef, etc coupled with the fading but still discernible aroma of Guatemalan.

THE BAD

Nantz: We are well into the second round and as usual there isn’t a whole lot of good to report on from these aging club flingers.

Faldo: I agree, although there have been flashes of, I was gonna say brilliance but that would be a bit over the top.  Let’s just call it sucking less than usual, such as The Rick paring all three holes at Amen Corner, not an easy task as I can well attest, being a winner there a few times.   Did I ever tell you, mate, about the tiff I had with my caddie over club choice at the par 3?  Well..

Nantz: Sorry Nick old pal, no time for your glory days routine. There’s nobody listening anyway.  Those dozy bastards who consigned us to this broadcasting nightmare probably don’t even remember that we’re doing this.  It’s a wonder they can function at a level higher than one of them three toed sloths.  You know what I heard?  That they all have agreed to donate their internal organs to science.  Mayo Clinic is desperate to find out why their livers lasted longer than some non-alcohol preserved specimens.

Faldo: Uh, Jim?  Clyde Howe is on line one.

THE MOSTLY DEBAUCHED

Clyde: Faldo?  You over rated hack, I wanna talk to that pompous bag of methane, Nantz.

Sam: You tell him that I’m gonna donate his balls to my taxidermist and have them mounted on my den wall.

Clyde: Nantz?  Don’t talk, just listen.  We own you now, pal, so you better get used to a new tradition like no other.  We’re flying in to Wilmington, NC to play at this place called Farmstead.  We will be listening to your riveting broadcast; a little less full of yourself and a little more entertaining would be appreciated.

Vinny: Another thing, we need some eye candy.  Nantz might still be pretty but Faldo’s late night exploits don’t exactly enhance his beauty.

Rocco: This is perfect.  We represent a nubile young lady who is a, she’s a, well she’s an entertainer at one of Myrtle Beach’s finer clubs.  Her name is Melody Storm.  Get her to do on the course interviews and stuff.

Vinny: Oh yeah, she’s hot.

Clyde: You got that, Nantz?  Melody Storm showing her stuff.  See you later.

THE GOOD

or perhaps, more appropriately,

THE EMBARRASSING

Another round completed at a very nice, new venue for us, The Grande Dunes.  Beautiful holes running parallel to the Intracoastal Waterway, greens that begged to be putted upon, ponds that demanded sacrifice and according to an informed staff member, water moccasins slithering in the shoreline greenery seeking unwary golfers to slay. Indeed, a round that will long be cherished for many reasons; each Hoover with his own memories of spectacular holes while ushering the not so spectacular to the darkest recesses of their collective minds.  Joey with his record shattering 97, Rick with his back to back pars on 8 & 9, Ocho with his blistering par,par,par,birdie,par and Jimmy with his good fortune to be in the same cart with Ocho during those blistering holes.  Ironic when you think on it.  Jimmy was the most effusive in praise of Grande Dunes and yet he played the worst of the four of us.  Just goes to show that inside the Hoovers beats the hearts of poets.

The setting sun was a display of grandeur and a perfect backdrop to the network interview area set up just off the 18th green.  Melody Storm dressed in a form fitting blue dress and oh what a form that was filling it.  Spaghetti straps on the shoulders held up what little material there was that formed the low cut cleavage revealing bodice.    Arising from the bottom of her right calf is a tattoo of an elegant climbing morning glory vine that enchantingly disappears mid-thigh under the dress.  Carrying a microphone and a clipboard she walks over to Ocho and Rick.  Joey alights from his cart like he was shot out of a cannon to join in on the interview.  Just as Melody gets into position she drops the clipboard.  Both Melody and Joey bend down to retrieve the item and Joey is met with an eyeful of cleavage.  Melody takes the clipboard from a mesmerized Joey and winks at him turning him into a glazed over statue, unable to move as the sun reflects off the beaded sweat on the top of his head.  On the other side of the green, Jimmy was still sitting in the cart when Melody bent down for the clipboard.  His view, when he was able to regain focus after the initial shock, was of the morning glory vine as it reached her well made gluteal region.  His first thought was the realization he really liked peaches; his second thought was that he could not get out of the cart until a certain condition abated.

THE BAD

Nantz: “I can’t remember the last time I was so enmeshed in the beauty and drama of a well played golf match.  Not Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy or even Sir Nick Faldo has ever brought to the golfing public a display of excellence such as the likes of The Hoovers have brought to us today.”

Faldo:”Bollocks!  What have you been smoking?  We’ve been on the air for 4 1/2 hours and have seen maybe half a dozen decent shots from these club wielding buffoons.”

Nantz:  quickly put his hand over Faldo’s mike, “What the hell is wrong with you?  Our new bosses are listening.  You better pucker up and start doing the arse kiss routine or we’re toast.”

Faldo: “Shite, I forgot.”  He reaches down under the desk and pulls up a bottle of Johnny Walker Black and takes a three gulp drink.  “Okay, I’m ready to pucker.”

Nantz: slowly takes his hand from Nick’s mike, “Aw now Nick, let’s not be jealous.  This is their time, yours has sadly passed you by.  Time for a brief word from our new sponsor, Hoover Eats, the last word in fine beef stews and chili and then we’ll take you down to the course for some in depth interviews with our latest staff addition, Melody Storm.

Faldo: “That’s right, Jim.  Hoover Eats is perfect for that post-round meal.  The chili is out of this world and let me tell you, I just had a bowl before going on the air and it tastes just as good the second time(he belches and smiles).  The beef stew has been rated highest among those who think Dinty Moore comes straight from God.  So stock up now; Hoover Eats – it keeps you moving.”

Nantz: “Now we are going down to Melody as she chats with Ocho and The Rick. Welcome to the crew, Melody.”

Faldo: mutters just loud enough for it to go over the air, “So that’s what she looks like with clothes on.”

THE MOSTLY DEBAUCHED

Farmstead Golf Course has the distinction of being geographically situated in both North and South Carolina.  This little fact is causing no little consternation to the partners.  It is illegal to drink on the golf course in North Carolina and 85% of the course is in North Carolina.  “Not having alcohol on even one hole is a travesty of justice,” yelled Sam, “and I’m sure is a violation of my god-given, constitutionally mandated rights.”  Marjorie didn’t bat an eye or move an inch, she just said, “Clyde!” and turned to exit the plane thinking how glorious the next few hours would be while her boys were wreaking havoc elsewhere.

Clyde looked at Vinny and asked, “How many North Carolina legislators do we own?”  Vinny scratched his head, crushed a Schlitz can and replied, “Four but there’s a fifth who is just awaiting our final offer.”  “Okay, call the fifth and get him or her on board and then conference in the other four.  I want an exemption in that ill-formed piece of legislature or our friends the congresspeople will, and I quote Walter Sobchak, ‘be entering a world of pain.’  Is that clear, Vinny?”  “Couldn’t have said it any better, Clyde, my wise old friend,” answered Vinny, the swish of a can of Schlitz being opened punctuating the moment.

“Hey Sam,” said Clyde, following Sam over to the bar for a quick one before their first drink during the limo ride to the golf course, “You’ve been a little too rough on Marjorie, hell we all take advantage of her from time to time.  Damn, but she’s a treasure and it is time we showed her our appreciation.  It’s time to implement our plan to buy out Expedia and a couple other travel outfits and start our own mega travel guide service.  Marjorie will run it as President of Travel Hedonists, Inc.”

THE GOOD

Despite the fact that Clyde and the rest expected Ocho to be the primary focus of the broadcast interviews and despite the fact that this was indeed a ploy by Clyde and the rest to entice Ocho out of retirement, the interview was still slanted towards The Rick as Clyde and the rest forgot about the inexplicable attraction between women and The Rick.  Ocho was only able to answer one question regarding his return to action.  At that point, Melody, aimed the mike at The Rick and proceeded to bombard him with inane questions about his favorite color, his favorite bands and whether he thought Donald Trump was evil.  However, it was not the interview questions that mattered or even, the answers.  This was two people becoming enraptured with each other.  Melody could only imagine running her fingers through that magnificent, never been treated for baldness, head of hair and The Rick, when he wasn’t glancing at cleavage, was captured by her green eyes and the way a strand of her brunette hair fluttered against her forehead.

After the interview, Melody tapped The Rick on the shoulder and said, “I can’t tell you what a pleasure it is to finally meet you.  I am taking classes at Francis Marion Junior College.  I hope to get a degree in Business or Broadcast Journalism.  I read all about you and your rise to the top of the business world in our textbook. It was a chapter entitled, ‘The Profitability of Ruthless Capitalism’.  I was wondering if you would like to come see me perform.  I work at The Purring Kitten, one of the area’s finest dance studios.  After we could maybe talk.  I would so dearly love to talk to you about your experiences. I have so much to learn and this would be so much more informative than a dry, impersonal textbook.”

Hoover Bob returned to the group after a couple days visiting a friend.  He walked over to the table where Jimmy, Joey and Ocho were having a post round libation.  Besides, they had nowhere to go until The Rick said where and when.  “Who is that fawning all over the boss?”, asked Bob.  Without taking his eyes off of Melody, Joey told Bob who she was.  Jimmy could only manage a sigh and Ocho just rolled his eyes. “Do you think we should remove her?”, asked Bob, with an eager look on his face and already moving toward her, “She seems to be keeping the Chief from joining us.”  At that point Ocho got up and pulled Bob back, “Umm, I don’t think the Chief wants to be rescued.”

 Author’s Note

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, The Hoovers have all been sainted and shall  henceforth, on St Patrick’s Day, be known as:  St. Joey of the Fairway…St. Bob of the Pits (a NASCAR term) …St. Jimmy the Pontificator… St. Richard the Hoover Hearted… and St. Paul the Flatulent.

THE BAD

Nantz: “St. Patrick’s Day and our intrepid band of Hoovers are all decked out in various shades of green as they prepare to play the Nicklaus designed Long Bay Club.”

Faldo: “About the only thing missing is maybe a keg of stout and a fifth or two of Jameson’s.  Hell, I’d join them if they were so encumbered.  Fortunately I have my own supply of green beer on hand.  Did you hear the names they are going by today?

Nantz: “Some colorful ones indeed.  Well that’s interesting.  They were all gathered together on the 1st tee waiting for the group in front of them to get out of their way when of a sudden they all broke away from each other.”

Faldo: “Ten to one it was St. Paul the flatulent.”

Nantz: “And that is the perfect lead-in to a word from our sponsor Hoover Eats and their two new exciting entrees, Meatballs ala Jimmy and Rick O’Lobsitz’ Corned Beef and Cabbage.  With that is our newest colleague, Melody Storm.

Melody: “If you’re looking for a wholesome, nutritious, gluten free, antibiotic free, organically grown meal with 0% transfat, then you better look elsewhere.  Hoover Eats specializes in meals made the old fashioned way…with taste being the primary focus.  And I can state unequivocally that the new entrees, as well as the chili and beef stew, are stick to the ribs good.  Hoover Eats – it keeps you moving.”

THE MOSTLY DEBAUCHED

It was a sunny, 75 degree day as the partners rolled onto the first tee at Farmstead.  They were all wearing cargo shorts as the deep pockets could hold half a dozen various alcoholic nips or in Vinny’s case, a couple cans of Schlitz.  Since they spend a lot of time outdoors they were much more tanned than anyone else on the course but that didn’t stop Sam from applying a spray on tan which gave him an orange hue.  Clyde took one look at him and said, “Good grief, Sam, you look as ridiculous as that madman Trump.”  “Oh piss off, Clyde,” replied Sam, “and don’t you ever compare me to that bozo.  Calls himself a successful businessman; hell if we were as successful, we’d be out of business.”

The four of them then performed their own special pre-round ritual of pouring a libation on the tee box ground to the golf god, Hackus.  “Excuse me, gentlemen,” interrupted a stern looking golf course official, “but alcohol is not permitted on the North Carolina portion of the course.”  Vinny walked over to the course official, “Here, hold my beer while I make a phone call.”  Taking his phone out of the pocket of his Jerry Garcia emblazoned golf shirt, Vinny hit one number and a video chat session was opened, “Good morning Pat.  Would you please explain to this nice man about our special exemption?  Thanks and have a nice day.”  The course official took the phone and saw the face of Pat McCrory the governor of North Carolina.  “Who am I speaking to?” asked McCrory.  “I uh, uh.” stammered the course official, “Spackler, sir.  Charles Spackler.”  “Well, Spackler, I expect you and your staff to extend every courtesy to these fine gentlemen.  If they wanna drink on your course, they can bloody well drink on your course.  You got that?  Good!  Now, I don’t want to be bothered again about this.  I’m a busy man.  There’s an Andy of Mayberry marathon on TV right now and you’re making me miss it.”, replied McCrory as he ended the call.  Spackler handed the phone back to Vinny but as he started to hand back the Schlitz he was holding, Vinny chuckled and said, “May as well drink that one, Spackler.  I don’t think Pat will mind and besides, I already have another.”

 THE GOOD

The home cooked meal has been devoured, the dishwasher has been loaded,and a load of unmentionables is tumbling in the washing machine.  Now is the time for these feisty, energetic seekers of excitement to choose tonight’s entertainment.  Not constrained by the strictures of home life, wives, children and grand children, it is time to cut loose.  Rick reaches into a canvas bag that he’s been guarding against any intrusion in order to surprise us, “Are you guys ready to have some wicked good fun?”, he asks with a smirk that is at once both mischievous and mysterious, giving the impression that something naughty awaits.  Well, naughty it wasn’t, though there were some mentions of various parts of human anatomy that could be construed, in some circumstances. as being naughty.  No, the wicked good fun was a game called Cards Against Humanity; a party game in which players complete fill-in-the-blank statements using mature-content phrases printed on playing cards.  Hilarity ensued as we all vied to have the fill-in phrase for a question be the one that we each had chosen.  Oh, the mirth and mayhem we Hoovers enjoy during this annual golf expedition.  Many groups of guys come to Myrtle and fritter away their evenings drinking in bars or in gentlemen’s clubs, but not The Hoovers.  Night time for us is pints of Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey or Cherries Garcia, Oreo cookies and a Robin Williams concert DVD, and then passing out before 11:00.

 THE MOSTLY DEBAUCHED

Never let it be said that a round of golf for these guys will ever be without behavior not usually seen in the prim and proper world of civilized golf.  Some of you who have read some of this author’s tales of Dewey, Cheetum and Howe, may remember an incident involving Clyde baring his backside as penance for a tee shot not going passed the ladies red tee box.  Well, dear readers, it happened again as Clyde lost whatever balance remained in his inebriated anatomy, resulting in his driver topping the ball 2 inches in front of his tee and thrusting him forward.  With his arms outstretched in front of him, Clyde plunged downward, his hands hitting the ground first thus softening the blow when his arms gave out and his face fell into the turf.  The blow to his upper body was further softened, however, by the cushion-like texture of the Bermuda grass.  The lower half of his body was not as fortunate.  The dimpled sphere lying 2 inches in front of his tee was now connected through his shorts and boxers, to one of his own dimpled spheres.  The force at which he fell at, upon contact with the ground, embedded the ball in his upper thigh region causing it to remain attached when he came to be suddenly sober and shot up like a rocket, shrieking like a banshee as the pain overcame the alcohol in his bloodstream. He wrestled his shorts and boxers to his ankles to determine the extent of the injuries to his, let’s say upper thigh area.  “Oh dear God in heaven,” came the plaintive cry of the Course Superintendent as he took his hands off of the steering wheel of the golf cart and placed them on either side of his screaming mouth and inadvertently stepped on the accelerator.  As misfortune would have it, he was going downhill and was heading for a slight curve in the cart path.  He missed the turn.  After a short bumpy ride through a patch of tall grass and scrub brush, he finally came to a stop as the cart began to submerge in the pond beyond the scrub brush.  Fortunately for the Course Superintendent there were no water moccasins ready to slay a wayward golf cart driver. Course Superintendent Charles Spackler pulled his cell phone out of his shirt pocket and held it over his head as he waded back to dry ground and over to the tee box where Clyde was still looking at his, let’s say upper thigh area.  Barely able to speak intelligibly he managed to sputter out, “Never in my life have I seen such a display of reprehensible, pre-pubescent behavior.  Wait until the Governor hears about this!.”  Just as Spackler was ready to dial the governor, Rocco grabbed his hand, “You might want to think about this for a moment.  You know, not rush into anything you might regret.  I seem to recall our friend the Governor saying something about not wanting to be disturbed while he’s watching Andy of Mayberry?  And besides Vinny here already sent our friend the Governor, pictures of old Clyde’s backside and, shall we say, upper thigh region.  He’s probably looking at them during a commercial break and laughing his ass off.  So, relax.  Here have a Schlitz and a nice Cuban cigar.”  Spackler took the beer and the cigar, sat on the ground, buried his head in his hands and wept.

 Marjorie lingered a few moments longer in the whirlpool bath steeling herself to listen to the ungodly number of messages waiting on her cell phone, and the imminent return of her boys.  Her mind drifted back as she savored the peace and tranquility of the last six hours; a most relaxing six hours.  First was a two hour nap, followed by an hour massage, courtesy of A Sacred Place Wellness Center.  Then a peaceful lunch of salad, fruit and three glasses of wine.  She felt the tension just evaporate out of her neck and shoulders like the steam rising from the whirlpool.  The sound of her cell phone alarm clock interrupted her reverie and jarred her back into reality.

THE BAD

Nantz: “Whoohee!  We’re finally done with this blasted assignment.  Pass me that Johnny Walker and let’s get shitfaced my good sir knight.”

Faldo: “Excellent fucking idea my good sir, ah, good sir.  Oh hell.  Have a drink.  Now I may be mistaken but I think we’re still on the air.  Can we say shitfaced and excellent fucking idea on the air?”

Nantz: “No worries.  There’s a five second delay.”  He pauses for a moment as the producer back in the studio in New York is screaming at him in his headphones.  “We’re fucked.  No five second delay.”

Faldo:  Picks up the ringing phone, “Um, Jim?  It’s Sam Dewey.”

THE MOSTLY DEBAUCHED

“Nantz?”, snarled Sam, “Don’t talk, just listen. What in ………………………..   You have screwed up every step of the way.  Did we want that pompous, most interesting man in the world, The Rick to be the interview focus?  No, we didn’t?  Did we want Melody Storm  to defect and become a business consultant on Fox Business?  No we didn’t?  Did we want you and that perpetually unintelligible partner of yours to put on a broadcast that was even mildly entertaining?  Yes we did.  Did you?  No you didn’t?  As a result of these failures to produce you and your partner are being reassigned.  You, Nantz, will be doing weather reporting from our office in the Aleutian Islands.  Faldo is now my caddie.”  Sam disconnected the call on his phone, sighed and said, “I love what I do.”

Marjorie listened to all of the messages and decided she could ignore all of them except the one from Fox Business wanting a reaction to a video of Clyde screaming and brandishing for all of the internet to see, his upper thigh region.  She switched on her laptop in order to see for herself the video that already had 123,000 likes and 57,000 shares on Facebook; plus being the number one trending hashtag on Twitter.  She also found the edited version on YouTube and wasn’t surprised to learn that ESPN was running it on Sports Center.  Taking a deep breath to stem the returning tension, Marjorie took another look at Clyde’s fall and started to chuckle; a chuckle that grew and finally burst forth as a full blown mirthful laugh causing her to fall to the floor at the foot of the bed.  As her laughter slowly subsided, she could hear the faint dialogue from the video feed then was surprised by a sudden change in the volume.

Clyde let out another anguished cry of pain as he waited for Rocco, who was fumbling with a ring of key cards, to get the door open to their suite.  “Oh for the sake of all that’s holy, get that damnable door open, will you?”, Clyde beseeched.  He pulled off the towel that had been wrapped around his waist; a towel that was soaked through with vodka, gin, scotch and Schlitz.  In an attempt to deaden the pain during the limo ride from the golf course, Clyde was drinking everything he could get his hands on.  He had also been pouring half of the contents of the various nips and Schlitz cans directly onto the upper region of his thighs as topical analgesics.  Clyde howled once more when Vinny bent down to take a look and accidentally brushed against Clyde’s upper thigh area with a Schlitz can.

Marjorie realized that the howl wasn’t coming from the video feed but was coming from out in the hallway.  With a mixture of dread and the anticipation of the inevitable, Marjorie got to her feet, walked to her door and with a trembling hand opened it.  Rocco, still fiddling with the ring of key cards, smiled at her.  Vinny turned to her and said, “Hi Marjorie.  Look at how many more dimples there are on Clyde’s right nut than on the left one.  Hey, what’s this Clyde?  Does that say Titleist?”   Sam staggered into the hallway from the direction of the backdoor.  “Where you guys been?  Who moved the front door to the back? ”  He lurched into the wall next to Marjorie’s door and slid to the floor.  Gesturing with his hands he first pointed at Marjorie and then at Clyde, “Have you seen the video?  I betcha that weasel The Rick leaked this to that traitor Melody Storm thinking this would ruin us.  I got news for that walking L.L. Bean commercial, this is gonna work for us.  You can’t buy publicity like this.”  With that pronouncement complete, Sam curled up on the floor and fell asleep.  Marjorie stepped over his fetal positioned form and opened the suite door that Rocco now realized did not need a key card and hadn’t even been locked.

THE GOOD

The Rick dunked another Oreo into the glass of milk, hit mute on the remote and while chewing on the milk soaked cookie pointed the uneaten half at the lovely Melody Storm who was breaking down in great detail the vile display of those immoral, unscrupulous business partners of Dewey, Cheetum and Howe to her fellow panel members on the Fox Business forum.  “Those dozy, drunken sots ain’t gonna know what hit them.”, opined Jimmy Two Birds as he swallowed the last of his frozen Strawberry Daiquiri.  Nascar Bob, peaked around the refrigerator door, “Hey, we’re almost out of beer. Who wants to make a Piggly Wiggly run with me?”   Joey got up, wiped the back of his hand across the chocolate cake crumbs on his lips and grabbed the keys to the Hoovermobile, “Let’s roll.”  Bob grabbed the last beer walked over to Joey with his right hand extended upward and outward, “High five, bro.”  Ocho, who had been busy with the effects of chili and strong coffee, hurried out of the bathroom and called out to Bob and Joey, “Hey, get me another pint of Chunky Monkey, high five bro.”

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The Official “Good for me, Bad for you 2015 Eastside Kids Reunion Tour & The Moron Hall of Fame Convention Travelogue”

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Roll Call for the Moron Hall of Fame Convention – a list of this year’s attendees:

  • Jim ‘$6’ Irvine Jr.
  • Tracy ‘Turtle Got Game’ Justice
  • Mark ‘0 for 1966’ Winningham
  • Ralph ‘Alley Ball’ Emerson
  • Chuck ‘Sofa King’ LeFurge
  • James ‘Paparazzi’ Shields
  • Wing ‘Golden Dragon’ Tom
  • Rick ‘Dog Lover’ Prince
  • Paul ‘Road Trip’ Bennett

Special cameo appearances:

  • Kerry ‘Bed Fixer’ Justice
  • Sharon ‘Hot Chick’ Bartl
  • Theresa ‘Are You Guys Here Again’ Prince
  • Debby ‘The Knox Heartthrob ‘ Vassallo

Arrival: Thursday, June 11, 2015

This tale may ramble a bit from subject to subject; from episode to episode but hopefully will be okay by the end.  Way back in the mid-70’s I lived in a second floor flat with two of my peeps and fellow travelers, one of whom was Mark Winningham who now happens to be a founding member of the Moron HOF and tonight he seems to have the parking lot greeter job as his is the first face I see upon arriving at The Pub Froggy in Roseville, MI.  Way back in the mid-70’s, I noticed that when Mark was in the ‘realm of no pain’ that he would sport a very large and silly grin.  When I stepped out of The Gray Wolf, after a marathon 16 hour trek from Providence, RI. Mark was sporting a very large and silly grin.  It was 9:30 p.m. and the boys had been going at it for a few hours, shooting bull, shooting pool and having a few beers.  Judging from the size of Mark’s grin he’d had about a pitcher or so and so would have the rest of the guys except Wing, who doesn’t drink beer, and Chuck who makes up for Wing’s abstinence 5-fold.  I was greeted with a resounding, ‘Hey, he made it’ and spent the next few minutes extolling the magnitude of the trip I had just completed, though it should be duly noted that Mark supplied me with a freshly frosted mug and filled it for me before the press conference like q & a began.

Next thing I remember is being engulfed in a bear hug.  We have slowly built up the ranks of the eastsiders and while he did attend last year’s reunion, I did not, so this was the first time I had seen Ralph Emerson in nigh unto 40 years.  He was thinner back then and a lot less muscular though I am happy to report he still affects the style and verve of a child of the 60’s.  We’ve reacquainted ourselves, over the last two years, via that cornucopia of nostalgia, Facebook, after finding each other on Classmates.  When I look back I realize that Ralph was the second friend I ever made, the first being Harold Brem whom I met at age 5…I’m not sure when I met Ralph but I’m guessing 6 or 7.  I lived on Lenox, Ralph lived on Dickerson, a few houses closer to Mack than me.  Between our streets ran a lovely alleyway, a locale that has so many memories, not the least of which is that is where we first learned to play baseball.  Using a manhole cover for home, a crack in the cement for second base and the corners of garages for first and third, we began our lessons in hitting and fielding.  The most important hitting lesson was to learn to hit straight away as many of the backyards that lined the playing field were sort of off limits and we took some risk in retrieving a ball hit into them.  One of the more important fielding lessons was to learn how to catch, while batting, any pitch you did not want to swing at.  You see, we often only had four players so that meant that most of the time we did not have anyone catching behind the manhole cover.  Not only did we improve our physical ability, we also, following a time honored tradition in baseball, improved our math skills by keeping personal batting statistics.  I believe 100 home runs per season was typical.

cages

Friday, June 12

Spent a restful night at The Turtle’s Bed & Coffee Inn.  Well it was restful once Tracy’s brother Kerry helped $6 Jim put together his roll away bed.  The first, second, third and fourth tries were attempted with the help of Chuck; word to the wise – beer is not a performance enhancer.  One of the many perks available at The Turtle’s Bed & Coffee Inn is the backyard deck.  It’s a perfect place to enjoy the morning coffee, to recover from the night before, to prepare for the day’s activities and to share a few moments reminiscing with Kerry about the old days when our world ended at 8 Mile Rd; beyond that was still covered with woods, fields and farms.

Today’s plan is breakfast at Dan’s Diner (omelets – oh my, you gotta try the country omelet covered in sausage gravy), followed by bowling and batting cages.  After that it’s just a matter of finding a bar with pool tables and pretty barmaids; an observation – the barmaids got prettier with each pitcher of beer.  J  First up then, the Apollo Lanes for a rousing three games of a sport I have not partaken of in roughly 30 years.  Not to worry, I used to carry a 150 average and am positive I still have the skill; this despite that I have a cantankerous right shoulder that will be rolling a 16 pound ball; yeah no worries.

bowling

For the record I rolled 110,133 and 90 but I was robbed on several occasions with direct pocket hits that left that damnable ten pin still standing.  Those scores were good enough for a very convincing 4th place finish as I beat out Tracy by 3 pins and Chuck by 7.  Mark and $6 tied for 1st and Wing came in third.  That leaves Ralph; laughing all the way to last place, though I think I may have heard a few unmentionable words intermingled with the laughter.   When Mark announced that Tracy beat Chuck by four pins, Tracy did an immediate turn to Chuck and pointing his finger, first at himself and then at Chuck exclaimed, ‘Good for me, bad for you!’ Before I move on to the next activity, I must say a word about the rental bowling shoes.  They have certainly gone all out for fashion and comfort; a double strap Velcro closure with a sole that might be thicker than two sheets of paper and for this we have to leave one of our own shoes as a deposit.  I was sorely tempted to keep the rentals.

Stepping outside after the bowling, we commenced a lengthy discussion on which batting cage to go to; the indoor one (it was threatening rain) or the outdoor one.  For the unwashed masses, among the many activities we try to get in, there are the inevitable debates on what to do next, where to do it, who’s driving, who’s riding with who and do we need to get more beer (that particular debate lasts the shortest amount of time).   We chose the indoor one but in the end we went to both; what the heck, my shoulder was still attached and my left knee had only buckled a little after the first set of cages.  At first I was frustrated with my inability to hit a line drive, something that I was always able to do.  The problem was two-fold; the pitching machine insisted on delivering the ball way inside off the plate, the other was my abysmal timing.  Once I convinced myself to step out of the batter’s box and use that as home plate my timing got better and was able to get a few nice hits.  That was on the slow pitch machine.  I tried the fast pitch softball machine, think I’ll stick to slow pitch…took a few swings and misses to realize, ‘Boy, I better start swinging a bit sooner.’  Even then the results were not typical of my ability 40 years ago but that was the case for all of us; good thing we have our memories.  As I told one of the other patrons, “You wouldn’t believe it if I told you, but this (pointing to our group) was the nucleus of a championship softball team in 1966.”

pbpool

One of the mainstays of our reunions, besides beer and laughter, is shooting pool.  A sport I was never really very good at.  I blame it on the fact there is too much geometry involved and I was an inept mathematician.  In fact the only two classes I ever failed were math classes.  However, on this night I was on fire and with Jim Shields as my partner we won the 1 game knock out, 8-ball tournament in a devastating fashion.  Now there are some who would question our overwhelming domination simply because the two teams we annihilated lost by scratching on the 8-ball.  To this I say, ‘good for us, bad for you.’

I suppose I should elaborate on the catch phrase of the weekend.  One of the salient features of all of our reunions has been an undercurrent of competition between Chuck and Tracy.  Whether it is basketball, football, shooting pool or playing poker, Chuck’s mission was to beat Tracy, so the ‘good for me, bad for you’ mantra became the winner’s exaltation of victory.

Sharon 'Hot Chick' Bartl on the left...

Sharon ‘Hot Chick’ Bartl on the left…

Another pool tabled bar we visited on that day was at Colleen’s Pub in St. Clair Shores.  We ended up staying there for a while and made that our dinner place for the night.  Unbeknownst to me, Ralph had posted, via his phone, on Facebook that we were currently at Colleens and had tagged me in the post.  I was sitting there lost in the reverie when a woman came up behind me and said, ‘what are you doing here?’  To my surprise I found myself looking at my very lovely sister-in-law, Sharon Bartl, who had noticed on her phone that I was sitting in a bar in St. Clair Shores.  Don’t you just love technology?  She was on her way home from work (her and husband David live in SCS about a mile from Colleen’s) and when she saw on Facebook that I was in town and she stopped in to say hi.  Now, some of the guys were sitting at the table so I introduced her to them, but there were a few of the guys who were shooting pool and she departed before they came back to the table.  One of them exclaimed, ‘who was the hot chick hitting on Paul?’  So, Sharon, to a bunch of aged geezers, you are a hot chick.  Whether that is a good thing or not, I do not know.  J

bball

Saturday, June 13

If it is the Saturday of reunion weekend, then we must be at Rick’s basketball and poker emporium.  Each year we try to minimize the physicality of our activities and this year was no different.  It was decided that a friendly, non-contact game of around the world would be our version of basketball this year.  It is strictly a shooting game only; no running or jumping or defending involved.  Naturally, Tracy ‘Turtle Got Game’ won and also, naturally, we then morphed into a 3 on 3 contest and that does involve running, jumping and defending.  It was an exciting and close contest that pitted $6, Ralph and Rick against Chuck, Tracy and me.  About halfway through $6 needed to bow out (we are getting smarter I think) and Chuck took himself out to make the rest of the game a 2 on 2.  At this point my tactical genius came to the fore as I designed the winning plays around a simple yet effective strategy, ‘Give the ball to Tracy.’  With Rick draped all over Tracy like he was The Turtle’s shell, I executed a perfect bounce pass under the menacing octopus like arms of Ralph.  Then the genius of Turtle took over; with Rick expecting a jump shot (well jump may be overstating Tracy’s capability nowadays), he up-faked Rick out of position, ducked under Rick’s arms and made a beautiful game winning scoop shot.  Now, if you are keeping score, that makes two significant victories for me, pool and basketball; good for us, bad for them.  J

The picture above was taken by yours truly as I wisely chose not to engage in the following game of 21; another contest that involves a lot of physical action and contact because each contestant is playing against everyone else.  You grab a rebound or loose ball and are then set upon by a Mongol like horde intent on your destruction.  As you can see from the photo, Ralph paid the price for daring to take a shot.  J

An interesting facet of our basketball follies is that Rick’s neighbors and even the mailman take the time to enjoy the antics of our group of aging hoopsters.  Like those who watch NASCAR they are waiting for an accident to happen but instead are treated to a scintillating display of geezer ball as occasionally we look like we used to know what we were doing.  Once again we foiled their ghoulish desires and came away unscathed, if a few bumps, scrapes and bruises qualify as unscathed.  No need for a call to 911 or to use Mark ‘0 for 1966’ Winningham’s ever present jumper cables; the only required need was to drink a couple more beers in order to better remember another future Glory Days discussion, or perhaps more truthfully, to help deaden the pains of the bumps, scrapes and bruises.  I can foresee that soon we will be regulated to shooting paper wads at a trash basket to satisfy our basketball jones and even then, Tracy will most likely win.  Good for him, bad for us.

thegirls

The previous reunions were mostly devoid of any female involvement except for Rick’s wife and daughter who risked coming into their house during the Saturday night poker games.  This year we were practically inundated with women (a bit of hyperbole).  In addition to the surprise visit from Sharon ‘Hot Chick’ Bartl, we finally got Debby ‘The Knox Heartthrob’ Vassallo and Theresa ‘Are You Guys Here Again’ Prince to attend some of the festivities.  One of the more enjoyable things we did was to sit in Rick & Theresa’s living room and watch a video compilation of some old 8mm movies of Knox Church activities in the late 60’s.  The movies were made by James Irvine Sr. ($6’s father) and then converted to DVD by John Irvine ($6’s brother) and included such activities as the boys basketball teams, snow camps and men’s canoe trips.  My word, we did look young and vibrant in those days as opposed to the bumped, bruised and scraped geezers recovering from overly exuberant attempts to recapture the youth exhibited in the videos.  Now, I am not saying that we aren’t still vibrant.  No sir, we must still be vibrant to do what we do at these gatherings; it’s just a vibrancy rooted in wisdom and age; yeah, that’s my story and I’m gonna stick to it…good for us, bad for no one.

wings

Enter The Golden Dragon

Wing ‘Golden Dragon’ Tom once again put his restaurant at risk by allowing The Eastside Kids and Moron Hall of Fame to descend upon it for a sumptuous banquet.  As usual, the food was excellent and oh so plentiful; I think Tracy took enough leftovers to last him and Kerry a week (oh who am I kidding; Tracy will have the stuff devoured in a day.)  J  During the meal, a proposal was put forth to create an auxiliary branch of The Moron Hall of Fame in order to honor those of the female persuasion who influenced us as youths or who continue to influence us in our doddering years.  The proposal was met with an enthusiastic response from the membership and from Debby and Theresa who realized at once what an honor it would be to be associated with us (again, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.)  Hopefully, by the time you read this we will have gone through the vetting process; although there is an undercurrent of thought that the vetting process for the Auxiliary Branch should be circumvented in the case for Debby and Theresa and that they immediately be enshrined.  Alas, there is a faction in the Moron HOF who are sticklers for tradition and process and so we wait for the nominations and ratifications to go through.  On a personal note; it was really great to see Debby again after all these years.  She was and always will be my first unrequited love.  J

pokerchips

While it is a glorious thing that we have reconnected with so many of the friends of our youth, it does present some challenges to our annual poker night.  Eight players sort of negate any 7-card games or even 5-card draw and it certainly presented a challenge to figure out how to divide the chips in a manner that would leave all of the participants with $10 worth.  Even with the less inebriated Morons, Wing and $6, working on the solution it took a very long and amusing time…well, amusing up to a point which when arrived at Mark and Ralph went out and after visiting three different stores finally returned with another batch of chips enabling the game to begin.  The stand out hand of the night happened on the last one we played.  It was Hold ‘Em and was between Ralph and me…I do not remember what my hole cards were, nor did it matter what they were, nor Ralph’s either for that matter…the five community cards were 3 aces and 2 queens and neither of us could do any better than that so we split the pot.  It was an exciting way to finish the night and the weekend ($6 and me were due to depart very early the next morning) and what was even better was the fact that I didn’t lose any money as I broke even for the night.  I can’t remember who won the most but it is my contention that with my victories in pool and basketball and by not losing any money in poker that I be named the MVP of the reunion.  J Good for me, bad for the other Morons.

allofus

For those interested here’s the link to the Facebook photo album of the reunion:

https://www.facebook.com/tigers68/media_set?set=a.10205409903300155.1026814142&type=3

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A Motley Crew – Disdain for the Ravages of Time

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In 20 days, the gang known as The Eastside Kids will be gathering in our hometown of Detroit, MI.  Pictured above are a few of them.  These are the guys I grew up with.  We shared the joys of sports, the pains of school, the search for meaning in life and just plain having a good time in an era filled with civil unrest and an unpopular war.  That we survived those things and our own brand of foolishness is a miracle and yet, we did survive.  This year, in addition to eating some great food and drinking some good beer, we are planning to visit the batting cages, do some bowling, shoot some hoops, play a little pool and wager a bit in our annual poker game.  As is expected, I will chronicle the reunion with as much honesty as I can muster, though some fabrication may be necessary in order to preserve our dignity.  So, dear reader, keep us in mind as we once again show complete disdain for the ravages of time.  🙂

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Hoovers 2015 Myrtle Beach

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This is a rambling account of our annual trip to Myrtle Beach, SC.  I have entitled each section with a song title or a line from a song.

Growing Older and Tenser With the Times[1]

Ocho and his gang of ever increasing in age hackers of the sacred turf have once again escaped the cruel and bitter bonds of winter.  A winter that was going along nicely until February and then all meteorological hell broke loose and the leaden skies and howling winds buried New England.  A winter that saw poor Ocho climbing out onto his deck through the removed lower window of the door in order to clear off the five foot deep ‘freshly fallen silent shroud of snow’[2].  A winter that saw poor Ocho hanging out of a third floor window in a desperate attempt to clear the two foot deep swath of ice and snow off the roof before it crashed down on a poor helpless vehicle in the driveway below.  A winter that saw a large chunk of the aforementioned collection of ice and snow on the roof, crash down on the wife’s lease car causing multiple contusions, bruises and the decapitation of the passenger side mirror thus prompting the aforementioned hanging out of the window.  All of the Hoovers have similar stories of woe, exasperation and deprivation.  All except Jimmy Two Birds who has retired and now calls Punta Gorda, FL as his home, the fat bastard. J

Another result of winter in New England, though this is not erratic like the fickle patterns of meteorological mayhem, this happens every year.  We do not get much golf played, say after Halloween, so by this time of the year we are salivating at the thought we will be teeing it up again.  While we are suffering from this environmentally enforced dormancy we get periodic emails from Jimmy Two Birds about all the golf he is playing, how many pars he averages, in general how much he is improving, the fat bastard.  J

All Strung Out from the Road[3]

It was an epic almost Magellan like trek, this solo drive from Providence RI. to Myrtle Beach, SC.  At 06:00 Gray Wolf pulled onto I-95 south, eager to stretch his legs on this 1050 mile jaunt.  The route chosen will avoid the nightmarish travel corridor of New York City to DC and the attendant dollars spent in tolls on The Jersey Turnpike.  Instead, Ocho will wend his way out of New England via I-84 as it travels through land formerly occupied and or used by the Delaware, Huron, Mohawk and others.  Ocho pauses for a few minutes to refuel and to grab a cup of mediocre yet necessary coffee to stave off the effects of being up all night at work as there are many miles yet to go.

Near the blood soaked hills and fields of Gettysburg a foursome walks a golf course fairway now cleared of snow renewing Ocho’s energy level; an anticipatory foreshadowing of the week ahead.  The Mason-Dixon Line looms just a few miles ahead, one of the landmarks/milestones that Ocho uses as another means of energy revitalization.  Not only are these sights important in terms of how far is left yet to travel but they also stir up the historical thought process that inevitably comes to the forefront of Ocho’s mind.  The more prominent milestones include the rivers, Susquehanna, Hudson, Potomac and James.  Formidable obstacles all and makes me wonder in awe at the hardiness of our pioneer forebears.  Imagine the sheer effort needed to cross those rivers and the countless smaller rivers and creeks, the effort needed to climb and descend numerous hills.  Not to mention that those game trails they followed weren’t exactly Eisenhower Interstates.

I-81 south runs through an area rich in history.  It seems every exit leads to a Civil War battlefield, not that that is surprising as the Shenandoah Valley was the bread basket of The Confederacy and both sides fought to control it.  General Philip Sheridan greatly hastened the end of the war by destroying Shenandoah.  It’s amazing that this is the kind of stuff that filters through Ocho’s mind as he drives, that and the hope that there’s a rest stop soon.  Ocho and Gray Wolf need another nap.

Twenty-five hours later, 1050 miles, half a dozen cups of coffee and numerous stops to recycle said coffee and to take naps, I arrive at Jimmy Two Birds timeshare.  We are scheduled to tee off in a couple hours but it is one of those rare occasions when I am glad it is raining.  Gray Wolf and I are just a tad worn out.  J

 

 

Won’t Get Fooled Again[4]

In an effort to add a little excitement and the chance to win a sleeve of golf balls, Jimmy Two Birds instituted a Par 3 contest.  You win a sleeve if you get a par on a Par 3.  The rest of us protested that no one would win on account of our self-acknowledged ineptitude but Jimmy Two Birds persisted and thus those are the rules.  Today’s round was the first one played in about 4 months for Joey, Bob and Rick and the first one played in about 4 days for Jimmy Two Birds.  Jimmy Two Birds won a sleeve of balls today, the Fat Bastard.

The teams having been chosen in a random fashion, for today’s golf match are Jimmy/Rick vs Bob/Joey.  A pairing that elicited an immediate, ‘We’re gonna kick their ass!’ comment from Rick who then went out and shot a front nine 57 thus winning a sleeve of Ram balls for his excellence in futility.  As to the arse kicking, Bob/Joey put up a valiant yet vain effort losing 9-7, although Joey did distinguish himself by taking individual honors for the day harking back to the year Joey won our most prestigious award, The Harry A.  A feat so astounding that even to this day no one believes it actually happened.

Scenes from an Italian Restaurant[5]

Some of our more memorable moments take place at the various eateries we frequent while in Myrtle.  Last night at the Texas Roadhouse, for example, we simply reinforced the notion that we are losing our mental edge.  The tallying up of the bill proved to be an exercise of mathematical futility.  Determining that $35 was needed from 4 people because 130/4=35.  No one questioned that figure and we ended up $10 over what we needed.  With no immediate solution as to why the discrepancy, Joey, out of kindness, handed the extra $10 to Ocho.  The problem gnawed at Ocho on the drive back to the condo so he whipped out the calculator on his smart phone and lo and behold, 130/4=32.50.  Mystery solved and a time to celebrate so Ocho used the $10 and bought beer.

I’m Just a Substitute for Another Guy[6]

As has been the case the past few years Ocho’s financial woes have relegated him to the position of a stand by substitute golfer; not unlike some alternate on the PGA Tour waiting on somebody to drop out of a tournament.  I have to be ready at a moment’s notice in case one of the aging Hoovers can’t shake out the kinks from the prior day no matter how long they hog the limited hot water in the condo.

There are, I think, two prevailing theories as to why my fellow Hoovers insist that I come to Myrtle despite my monetary limitations.  Theory #1 is that they cannot do without my pleasant demeanor and witty repartee.  Theory #2 is they only care about not having to drag their clubs through airports and pay a small fortune to have them flown here.  Your guess is as good as mine as to which one is true.  J

Day number three and the call for a relief golfer has been made and Ocho is making his way in from the bullpen.  Now mind you the last two days were bathed in glorious sunshine and near 80 degrees.  Today is cloudy and only reaching the high 50’s.  Jimmy Two Birds is a no go for today’s round, the Fat Bastard.

Two days in a row for the relief golfer as JTB is once again hors de combat with a balky knee.  I feel bad every time I lace up my golf shoes at the expense of one of my fellow Hoovers, but only for a moment.  J

Day number five and for the first time ever in the annals of Hoover history a Hoover pulled himself out of a round halfway through.  JTB called ‘no mas’ after nine holes for the simple reason he was having no fun and was in danger of throwing his clubs into a gator infested pond.  Fortunately the relief golfer was at the course and took over for the distraught and frustrated Jimmy.  Unfortunately the relief golfer had to use Jimmy’s clubs and they weren’t any kinder to him than they were for Jimmy and almost ended up in the gator infested pond anyway.

 

Don’t Fear the Reaper[7]

For some reason, probably the onset of our advancing years and the aches, pains and medications needed, we had a jocular discussion on death and how we wanted our remains taken care of.  Jimmy mentioned having his ashes scattered over many of his favorite golf courses in Myrtle Beach but all I could imagine was a Big Lebowski type mishap.  A sudden gust of wind and Jimmy is scattered all over those officiating the event.  I came up with a couple possibilities for my epitaph … ‘All things considered, I’d rather be putting for birdie’… or (and this is a reference to my hard of hearing condition), ‘You can say anything you want about me, I won’t hear you anyway.’

Boring Stories of Glory Days[8]

I have been fortunate in my life to have two distinct groups of close friends.  The guys (and later the girls) I grew up with are once again a part of my life after nearly 40 years of no or very limited contact.  We have an annual reunion, this year being the 4th and those few days are filled with silliness and the chance to relive our glory days as young athletes.  We have played basketball & football.  We went bowling and visited the batting cages.  We recount our prowess with clear minds with no thought of hyperbole as we fail miserably to be what we used to be but laughing our arse off nonetheless.  We even have our own Hall of Fame of which we are all members and which we named The Moron Hall of Fame in honor of the fact that we actually made it to adulthood mostly unscathed and without criminal records.

That brings me to the group that sustains me in the ‘back nine’ of my life, The Hoovers.  For those who are not familiar with the history of the name we chose a brief digression.  It was somewhere on a golf course on Cape Cod.  We had just hit four of the more miserable tee shots in the history of golf.  As we watched the fourth one sail off to a place a golf ball ought not to visit, Jimmy Two Birds uttered these words, ‘We’re like a bunch of Hoover vacuum cleaners, and we can’t suck enough.’  Thus the name of the group was born along with our motto.  Since then we have traversed many fine fairways and even more not so fine areas of golf courses scattered throughout this great country of ours.  The main point of our exercise in futility is not so much trying to improve as that ship has sailed but to have more fun than should be allowed.  I would really like at some point to mike all of us for a round as there would be some great material to cobble together in a story.   So here’s to my buddies The Hoovers:  Joe Martin, Jimmy Two Birds Ouellette, Bob Svirsky, Loring Mackey and Rick Lobsitz.  May your balls be many and your strokes be few.  J

 

Every Day is a Winding Road[9]

Every nook and cranny of Gray Wolf is stuffed with the flotsam, jetsam and the necessary golf accoutrements needing to be returned to the normal habitat of our four intrepid Hoovers who must now sadly depart for the frozen wasteland of New England.   Rick and Bob are flying home from Charleston, SC while Joey opted to only fly to Myrtle and drive back with me.  Jimmy, of course, is driving back to Punta Gorda, FL where it is not a frozen wasteland, the fat bastard.  Included in the flotsam is Joey’s rather large suitcase that was not part of what Ocho brought down to SC.  Some creative packing was involved to accommodate it so as to leave room for Joey too.  It would have been a shame to have to strap Joey to the roof for the 1050 mile trek home.

On the road at 5:00 a.m. feeling the usual pangs of remorse that the week is already over, that the daily joy of camaraderie is once again relegated to memory and in my case to the written word.  However, those thoughts need to be suppressed in order to survive the long, long way home.  So with a stoical mindset Gray Wolf springs to life and we head home.  Nineteen hours later Joey is safely ensconced in his own bed and 15 minutes later Gray Wolf is safely at rest in his own driveway.  The trip home is mostly without incident.  The only traffic encountered came, naturally, when we got on the Mass Pike; a kind of welcome home committee.  Until next year, same time, same place.

[1][1] Paraphrased line from Bruce Cockburn’s ‘How I Spent My Fall Vacation

[2] Paul Simon I Am a Rock

[3] Bob Seger ‘Turn the Page’

[4] Pete Townsend ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’

[5] Billy Joel ‘Scenes From an Italian Restaurant’

[6] Pete Townsend ‘Substitute’

[7] Donald(Buck Dharma)Roeser –Blue Oyster Cult ‘(Don’t Fear) The Reaper’

[8] Bruce Springsteen ‘Glory Days’

[9] Sheryl Crow, Jeff Trott, Brian MacLeod ‘Everyday is a Winding Road’

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Myrtle Beach 2015 – an excerpt

Growing Older and Tenser With the Times[1]

Ocho and his gang of ever increasing in age hackers of the sacred turf have once again escaped the cruel and bitter bonds of winter.  A winter that was going along nicely until February and then all meteorological hell broke loose and the leaden skies and howling winds buried New England.  A winter that saw poor Ocho climbing out onto his deck through the removed lower window of the door in order to clear off the five foot deep ‘freshly fallen silent shroud of snow’.  A winter that saw poor Ocho hanging out of a third floor window in a desperate attempt to clear the two foot deep swath of ice and snow off the roof before it crashed down on a poor helpless vehicle in the driveway below.  A winter that saw a large chunk of the aforementioned collection of ice and snow on the roof, crash down on the wife’s lease car causing multiple contusions, bruises and the decapitation of the passenger side mirror thus prompting the aforementioned hanging out of the window.  All of the Hoovers have similar stories of woe, exasperation and deprivation.  All except Jimmy Two Birds who has retired and now calls Punta Gorda, FL as his home, the fat bastard.

Another result of winter in New England, though this is not erratic like the fickle patterns of meteorological mayhem, this happens every year.  We do not get much golf played, say after Halloween, so by this time of the year we are salivating at the thought we will be teeing it up again.  While we are suffering from this environmentally enforced dormancy we get periodic emails from Jimmy Two Birds about all the golf he is playing, how many pars he averages, in general how much he is improving, the fat bastard.  J

All Strung Out from the Road[2]

It was an epic almost Magellan like trek, this solo drive from Providence RI. to Myrtle Beach, SC.  At 06:00 Gray Wolf pulled onto I-95 south, eager to stretch his legs on this 1050 mile jaunt.  The route chosen will avoid the nightmarish travel corridor of New York City to DC and the attendant dollars spent in tolls on The Jersey Turnpike.  Instead, Ocho will wend his way out of New England via I-84 as it travels through land formerly occupied and or used by the Delaware, Huron, Mohawk and others.  Ocho pauses for a few minutes to refuel and to grab a cup of mediocre yet necessary coffee to stave off the effects of being up all night at work and there are many miles yet to go.

Near the blood soaked hills and fields of Gettysburg a foursome walks a golf course fairway now cleared of snow renewing Ocho’s energy level; an anticipatory foreshadowing of the week ahead.  The Mason-Dixon Line looms just a few miles ahead, one of the landmarks/milestones that Ocho uses as another means of energy revitalization.  Not only are these sights important in terms of how far is left yet to travel but they also stir up the historical thought process that inevitably comes to the forefront of Ocho’s mind.  The more prominent milestones include the rivers, Susquehanna, Hudson, Potomac and James.  Formidable obstacles all and makes me wonder in awe at the hardiness of our pioneer forebears.  Imagine the sheer effort needed to cross those rivers and the countless smaller rivers and creeks, the effort needed to climb and descend numerous hills.  Not to mention that those game trails they followed weren’t exactly Eisenhower Interstates.

I-81 south runs through an area rich in history.  It seems every exit leads to a Civil War battlefield, not that that is surprising as the Shenandoah Valley was the bread basket of The Confederacy and both sides fought to control it.  General Philip Sheridan greatly hastened the end of the war by destroying Shenandoah.  It’s amazing that this is the kind of stuff that filters through Ocho’s mind as he drives that and the hope that there’s a rest stop soon.  Ocho and Gray Wolf need another nap.

Twenty-five hours later, 1050 miles, half a dozen cups of coffee and numerous stops to recycle said coffee and to take naps, I arrive at Jimmy Two Birds timeshare.  We are scheduled to tee off in a couple hours but it is one of those rare occasions when I am glad it is raining.  Gray Wolf and I are just a tad worn out.  J

Boring Stories of Glory Days[3]

I have been fortunate in my life to have two distinct groups of close friends.  The guys (and later the girls) I grew up with are once again a part of my life after nearly 40 years of no or very limited contact.  We have an annual reunion, this year being the 4th and those few days are filled with silliness and the chance to relive our glory days as young athletes.  We have played basketball & football.  We went bowling and visited the batting cages.  We recount our prowess with clear minds with no thought of hyperbole as we fail miserably to be what we used to be but laughing our arse off nonetheless.  We even have our own Hall of Fame of which we are all members and which we named The Moron Hall of Fame in honor of the fact that we actually made it to adulthood mostly unscathed and without criminal records.

[1][1] Paraphrased line from Bruce Cockburn’s ‘How I Spent My Fall Vacation

[2] Bob Seger ‘Turn the Page’

[3] Bruce Springsteen ‘Glory Days’

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THE 2012 BUCKET LIST REUNION

THE BOYS WERE BACK IN TOWN

JUST LIKE BACK IN ’72

 

THE 2012 BUCKET LIST REUNION

poker_Ricks house

 

Prologue

            It had been a long two days, although not quite as long as the gap in time between getting together.  Aside from seeing Jim($6) a couple times in the last 10 years and having breakfast with Tracy and Mark on the way home from my golf trip last year, I have not seen my boyhood/young adult/coming of age buddies in about 35 years.  The catalyst for this ‘bucket list’ reunion was finding each other via the internet which seems a bit ironic given the fact that our philosophical approach to life  when young was modeled after the wisdom of the intellectual Stooge, Larry Fine, who so brilliantly captured the essence of the quintessential male in this statement, “We can’t help it, we’re morons.”  Not that any of us is actually a moron, not even Chuck, but for this time together we were freer to be who we were.  A sort of three day pass away from the realities of life. 

As we gathered to say farewell after a day of basketball in Rick’s driveway, a few games of pool in a local bar and the time honored tradition of playing poker, Mark, who seems to only speak when profoundness is needed, stated, ‘One thing I noticed about this weekend, none of us has changed a bit.’  That bit of insight dominated my thoughts the next day as I drove the 850 miles back to Salem, MA.  I’ve come to the conclusion that he was right, at least in the context of us being together.  In the intervening years since our group split to live like adults, we have forged careers, reared children and in most respects lived normal, productive American lives.  However, during our brief two day incursion into the past, we were able to recapture the silliness of youth, albeit in a much slower mode especially  on the basketball court, in such a fashion that it seemed as if there had been no 35 year gap in our group dynamic.  Physically, we all have changed, some with new body parts, some with missing, maimed or just plain achy body parts but the essence of us all is still there awaiting the opportunity to come to the fore.  I was pleased with results.

 

THE REUNION CAST:

Tracy Justice – erstwhile-self proclaimed leader of this motley crew…can still shoot the daylights out of a basketball even with the mobility of drunken hippo…philosophical successor to Luster Justice of Greasy Creek, KY…You Are My Sunshine

Charles LeFurge – rambunctious, contentious right wing enthusiast can still pour cheap beer down in prodigious amounts…aka LaFong as in “I don’t know Charles LaFong and if I did I wouldn’t admit it!”…part of a nightclub standup comedy act featuring Bubbles the Clown.

Jim Irvine – $6 Man is now 66 but still going strong…still the King of cheap under the basket scoring has augmented his boxing out technique with pointier elbows.

Mark Winningham – in his youth a softball pitcher who couldn’t hit…has translated those skills into mind boggling basketball ability…profound and erudite, he hit the nail on the head at the end of the reunion, “One thing I noticed about this weekend, none of us has changed a bit.”

Rick Prince – still has the quickest hands around whether he is intercepting or deflecting a pass or just giving you a subtle but effective shove in the back as he goes by…has not lost his impish mischievousness.

Jim Shields – has learned to say the word “none” so has avoided any more stomach pumpings…on the court photographer for the first day – great job, by the way.

Dave and Tom Thielen – cousins to Chuck…welcome additions to the festivities as they helped keep Chuck in line the first day.

Paul Bennett – showed flashes of brilliance with his new moves on the basketball court and is still limping because of them…gold glove infielder in his youth, still has those reflexes as he gathered in at least half the bounce passes that came his way.

The Breakfasts

The start of my participation in this monumental event began at 3:30 a.m. in Manistee, Mi. as I headed east down M-55 after a four day golf hiatus in the upper Lower Peninsula, toward a breakfast rendezvous with the guys at a Clinton Township eatery.  I admit to a bit of trepidation at the thought of us getting together after all these years.  After all, what if it turned out that we couldn’t stand each other anymore?  I arrived at what I thought was half an hour before the planned arrival but after calling Tracy realized that I was an hour and a half early.  Fortunately, I had things to do and  most of the others arrived shortly thereafter, well, except for Mark.  In what became a breakfast theme, we would propose a time to meet and then without malice or forethought would start earlier.  A vexing problem for Mark who would get there at the original time slot and find us eating, or worse. The second time we had already finished, not well thought out on our part and rude to boot but the even tempered, resilient Mark eventually forgave us and proceeded to take most of our money at poker later…revenge is sweetest with a full house against a measly three of a kind.

The Basketball – Day One

When we were young and limber, the Eastside Kids practically lived on one form of athletic field/court or another.  You must remember that there were no attractions to keep us inside, unlike the couch potato activities that exist today.  Whether it was Tuesday night roller hockey at Knox Church or a touch football game in the street, we honed our skills and hopefully learned our limitations.  As time went on we entered the world of organized sports, mostly softball(fast and slow pitch) at Knox.  I believe it was in 1966 that the Knox Boy’s Team won our league championship and was invited to a city wide tournament to be played under the lights.  This was the year of Mark’s incredible duel achievement as he pitched that team to the championship while at the same time(and he admits this freely), going zero for the season as a batter.  Like I said, we not only got better but learned our limitations.

Because of this affinity for sports, this ‘bucket list’ weekend needed to have some sort of sporting activity.  Personally, I had not touched or shot a basketball in at least ten years and most of the others were in the same condition when we hit the outside courts at Masonic and Harper in St. Clair Shores on Friday.  Before departing for this trip I received a crucial bit of advice from my MA friend Rick, who had recently shot some hoops after a long layoff.  He said, and I quote, “The baskets are higher now”.  Undaunted and fueled by the email trash talk of the last few months(I in particular had been boasting of the new moves I had developed in the ensuing years, to which Tracy quipped, “You didn’t have any moves in the old days!!”), we hit the court with a verve and desire only a bunch of sexagenarians can muster.  Now it is important to realize that we were not as young and limber as before and therefore we issued the following edict:

  • no diving for loose balls
  • no diving for balls going out of  bounds
  • excessive running is discouraged
  • jump at your own risk
  • defense is optional

Another important pre-game item I should mention.  There were those among us who brought a ready supply of Advil or other pain killers.  Mark took it to the next level as he brought aspirin, a vial of nitroglycerin and his jumper cables….”CLEAR!!”

The combatants in this attempt to recapture old glory were, Tracy, Jim($6), Chuck, Mark, Tom, Dave and me.  Jim Shields(because of recent shoulder surgery) did not play but was our roving photographer, an important job as now we can prove that we played and mostly survived.  To warm up and to test muscles that haven’t been abused in this manner in decades, we started out with a game of 21; a sort of free for all/everyone against the shooter game.  I figured if I survived that then all would be okay when the real games began.  What I learned from this exercise was that I could sustain enough momentum for maybe two plays in a row at which point my strategy was to play defense by shouting ‘boo’ to whomever I was covering in hopes that would be sufficient.  My offensive strategy during these periods of recovery was to miss any pass that came my way so that the ball would go out of bounds enabling me to gather enough strength for the next two plays.

We had a time honored tradition of choosing teams by shooting free throws…first three to make were teammates so that’s what we did.  Of course, we would still be there if we had taken the shots from the actual free throw line, so we moved our shot line up about three feet which sped up the process….just another fine example of knowing our limitations.   Teams chosen it was now time to see if any of us could stay the course without needing emergency medical intervention.  The pace was more brisk than I had thought it would be given the sedentary nature of our lives in recent years.  At first we were mostly content with letting whoever had the ball shoot uncontested but as we went along things started to heat up and get competitive.  All of a sudden shots were being blocked, picks were being set, rebounding became a dogfight, vertical leaps were attempted and fouls were being committed.

We ended up playing at least three games.  The scoring rules were simple:

  • 1 point for a basket
  • first team to 11 wins but you had to win by 2.
  • check the ball beyond the free throw line on each change of possession
  • and what became apparent early on –  don’t let Tracy shoot uncontested(not that it mattered anyway as he sank everything he threw up there.)…he always was our Jerry West/Oscar Robertson.

There were seven playing participants so that meant we had a ready substitute, should the need arise, for any who were winded beyond immediate recovery or for anyone foolish enough to try to defy gravity by jumping and pulling a calf muscle, though after looking at the 233 pictures taken by Jim S. all of us were that foolish upon occasion(I am writing this 10 days later and my calf is still sore).

The most memorable game that day went to overtime because of that miserable rule about winning by two.  I believe my team (Dave,Mark and me) came back from a considerable deficit to tie the game at 10 and then went on to actually win.  We had an impeccable strategy that involved Dave and I wearing ourselves out as Dave harkened back to the old days and was leaping and shooting like a man possessed and I finally broke out my “new moves” and dazzled my unbelieving foes by driving to the hoop and unleashing my deadly scoop shot.  Mark, meanwhile, was sort of on the fringe of the activity refusing to tussle under the basket or to even attempt getting any air under his feet, came alive at a crucial juncture when Dave ran out of energy and my scoops began to be returned to me by a no longer fooled defense.  Mark was never very good at basketball and in the old days wasn’t really involved with the innumerable games that we played over the years but on this day he was Mr. Clutch as he hit three or four baskets at the end to seal our hard fought victory.

A brief interlude into the mind of Tracy Justice

Tracy, looking over the tenacious defense as he prepared to throw the ball in, suddenly noticed

a throng of very beautiful women getting out of on oversized van parked next to the basketball court.  It seems that there was a special photo shoot going on involving Kate Upton, Bar Refaeli and a bevy of Hooter’s Girls dressed up in provocative cheerleader’s outfits.  When they noticed us, they set up and began a rousing cheer promising intimate and carnal knowledge for the winning team.  I was guarding Tracy at this point and was concerned for him as he had this goofy look in his eyes, a big grin and just a dollop of drool running down his chin.  Afraid he may be having a stroke or something I said, “Tracy?  Are you all right?”  At which point he shook his head vigorously, looked over at the sidelines and groaned, “Damn, they’re gone.”  “Who?”, I asked.  “Oh never mind”, responded Tracy, “I must have seen a mirage…but what a mirage!”

 

            Having left it all on the basketball court it was time to recoup.  So we said farewell to Tom and Dave as they needed to head back to Lansing to prepare for a golf tournament on the morrow(this, in my opinion, is the only excuse for bugging out that was acceptable) while we repaired to our home for the next two days, the Microtel in Roseville.  Lounging in the room that Chuck and I shared we talked and laughed and then laughed some more resembling the protagonists in Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Glory Days’ with our “boring stories of glory days.”  During this respite a recurrent theme for the rest of the weekend arose  when Tracy asked Chuck if he ever blew bubbles when he was a kid.  The punchline for this seemingly innocent query is rather crude to say the least so I will not divulge it here in writing.  Suffice to say that the correct answer is NOT yes.  Despite the crude and shall I say lascivious nature of this joke, it took on a life of it’s own as we adapted it to suit our silly purposes, indeed as I write this, the topic is still being bandied about on Facebook and in emails.  It will undoubtedly follow us to our graves and may turn up in various eulogies. – Thanks Tracy.

Dinner that night was eaten at one the more elegant establishments in the area.  In fact, I have often wondered why this place has yet to be feted on such TV shows like Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations or Andrew Zimmern’s Bizarre Foods.  I am, of course, referring to Hooters.  This world class dining emporium features mostly mediocre food served up by mostly unclad beautiful women which by the way makes up for the quality of the food.  In most restaurants you are served by the same person throughout your meal but here at Hooters we were subjected to the cleavages of at least five lovely ladies.  That burger a little overcooked?  No matter, the results of that girl’s push-up is a wonder to behold.  So we gorged ourselves on wings, burgers and the like while quenching our thirsts with a couple pitchers of an American Industrial beer-like substance(more on the subject of beer later) while enjoying the finer points of the ambiance exuded by tight shorts and the aforementioned cleavage

 

Poker

Not all of our activities back in the day were relegated to the outdoors or on an athletic field.  From time to time we engaged in all night poker games so it was appropriate and necessary for us to do the same during this halcyon weekend.  The proprietor of The Microtel graciously allowed us the use of the breakfast room for the first night’s game.  The only stipulations were that we couldn’t get too rowdy, always a possibility whenever you mix quantities of beer with Chuck in the group and that the game break up at a reasonable hour.  The stakes were small so none of us was in danger of losing a whole lot but that did not deter Chuck from his main goal for the weekend which was to beat Tracy in poker.  This was important to Chuck because he never won when we were in our twenties, in fact, we dubbed him “Beautiful Loser” from the Bob Seger tune of the same name.  The games we played were dependent on the dealer and in the main were the normal ones like, 5-card stud or draw, 7-card follow the Queen and so on.  Except when it was Jim($6)’s turn to deal.  He has gathered a plethora of weird permutations of the game over the years each one with more rules and regulations than the U.S. Tax Code.  Not that they weren’t fun but  it took time to explain them to our slightly inebriated group.

The second night’s card games were played at the house of Rick Prince.  He was unable to attend Friday’s activities and volunteered his place as the focal point for Saturday’s fun and frolic.  The downside to having Rick join in was that Jim($6) had to explain the Tax Code rules all over again.  Fortunately there was, as usual, a quantity of beer-like substance on hand to keep us focused.  In the end it was Mark who was the big winner to the approximate sum of $20, however, and more important to Chuck was the fact that he won more money than Tracy did over the course of the two nights.  This rendered him happier than a Republican Senator on an all expense paid lobbyist junket to Macau.  No matter that the total he won was $1.15 as opposed to Tracy’s breaking even.

Towards the end of our game, Rick’s family arrived home to find that they had been invaded by a bunch of geezers intent on pulling every facial and abdominal muscle they had by way of continued, raucous laughter.  The mirth and merriment in our last few hours together as a group was not only an acknowledgment of the strong bond between us but also was just plain fun.

The Beer

“Mabel, another Black Label, Carling’s Black Label Beer.”  For those of you who can remember  that far back, this was a popular beer of choice for us back in the 70’s.  Nowadays that worthy brew is only available, according to a Google search, in Canada and South Africa so in lieu of an old favorite, the group settled on some of the various American Industrial lite concoctions.  These were ever present at the basketball games, the poker matches and at the pool hall we invaded on Saturday afternoon.  While this arrangement was fine with the majority of the group, Mark and I have developed a more, shall we say, snobbish palette in regards to the beer we drink.  Finally, at the pool hall we rebelled against the imbibing of American Industrial beer-like liquids and purchased a pitcher of Killian’s Red to satisfy our growing need for a beer with taste and substance.

The Basketball – Day 2

When I awoke on Saturday morning, the pain and stiffness of my legs made the thought of playing more basketball seem highly unlikely.  However, by the time we finished breakfast(once again I apologize Mark) the Advil had kicked in sufficiently to fool the brain into thinking it was a capital idea.  Rick has a nice basket/backboard combo situated at the top of his driveway so that is where we once more entered the fray.  It seemed like a good place to play as the size of his ‘court’ was a little smaller than the regulation one we were on the previous day meaning less running or what passed for running.  So much for appearances as the weather rendered that a moot point as the temperature and humidity rose to higher degrees than the day before meaning our stamina was taxed just as much if not more.  Friday we lasted three hours, Saturday not so much, though we did manage an hour and a half before we succumbed  to the heat and retired to the shade while Rick supplied us with cold/wet towels to alleviate the ravages of the sun’s punishment.  Since Rick was unable to play on Friday, I was curious to see how he had fared the past three decades.  He was a pest on defense and hit shots from everywhere whether there was anyone covering him or not.  Some things never change, I guess.

The Pool Hall

Another of our favorite activities when we were young was shooting pool.  Why I enjoyed this exercise in futility remains a mystery.  I attribute my lack of skill in this sport to my ingrained lack of success in mathematics, particularly geometry but I played anyway despite the nuisance of this handicap.  We played stripes and solids in two man teams with the winning team retaining the table.  Amazed at how well the others were playing I decided that I needed to make some sort of statement anent my lack of proficiency with a pool cue.  My time came when I was left with absolutely nothing to shoot at….all avenues to the holes were blocked ….all of my team’s balls were in such positions that I could not possibly sink anything.  Hah!!!  I showed them all by taking an impossibly angled shot that sank three balls….unfortunately two of the balls were our opponents and the third was the cue ball, but oh what a magnificent shot it was anyway.  If memory serves, the team of Tracy and Rick(oh yeah, the choosing of teams was not a democratic process but rather the autocratic decree from our leader, Turtle the First), dominated the proceedings followed by Jim($6) and Chuck.  Mark and I never won a match partly because we sucked but also partly because we finally had some decent beer to drink and felt it necessary to guard our pitcher of Killians against the depredations of the unwashed barbarians drinking swill.

Epilogue

They say in song and story that ‘all good things must come to an end’ and while that was true for this epic Bucket List Reunion it is not really the end of the story.  While we all were of the same mind, it was Jim($6) who stated the true and obvious that we need to do this again, maybe even annually because we may not have many more chances.  Our ties of friendship have withstood the ravages of time, distance and an overlong period of disconnect.  So, while it is too early to plan next year’s event, the seed has been planted.  We will not allow another protracted period of separation, indeed, we don’t have time enough left for that to happen.  This group has discovered that our youthful bonding is stronger than ever even as we reach the twilight of our lives.  Next year the “Boys are Back in Town just like Back in ’72” will reconvene, perhaps somewhere other than Detroit.  I know from experience that The Rockies are a beautiful sight, so perhaps it will be Jim($6) who hosts the next gathering of geezers.  His wife Janet will be pleased at that prospect, I’m sure.  🙂

To sum up the weekend I turn to Gaius Julius Caesar from his Gallic Commentaries as I paraphrase his oft quoted, ‘Veni, Vidi, Vici’, I came, I saw I conquered.  My version is thus:

‘Veni, Laffi, Ibuprofeni’…we came, we laughed our asses off, we took pain relievers.  Until next year, my brothers from the Eastside.

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Thoughts on the Importance of History – A Personal View

Ever since I was a young boy I have been fascinated and drawn to the study of history.  This article is some random thoughts on the importance of studying history.

My earliest recollection of my interest in the subject is the talks I had with my Dad concerning WWII and The Korean War.  I was probably about 8 or 9 years old so the time frame was around 1959.  We used to discuss some of the important personages involved in those conflicts, Hitler, Eisenhower and General MacArthur for example.  My Dad was too young to be in WWII and was deferred from Korea due to my birth in 1951 as back then they didn’t draft you if you had a family.  Still, he was well versed in the history of those times and this led to my curiosity of those momentous events.  In particular I remember his telling me about MacArthur’s desire to carry the Korean conflict across The Yalu River to confront the Chinese directly.

I can’t recall when I started learning history in school, whether it was in Elementary school or Jr. High.  Regardless of when it began the seed of curiosity was firmly planted and as time went on History classes were always my favorite ones.   I do remember that I spent a lot of time reading books from the library that dealt primarily with the military and the weaponry possessed by America at the time.  You must understand that this period was the Cold War era and was punctuated by events such as The Bay of Pigs, The Cuban Missile Crisis and the like.  It was a scary time living with the threat of atomic bombs and the creation of fallout shelters..

My desire to learn history was also driven by some of the movies I saw as a kid.  Movies like Bridge Over the River Kwai fed my interest in the recent past while ones like Spartacus opened my mind to the distant past.  It was during this time that I read about Heinrich Schliemann and his exploits looking for Troy.  Thus began my journey to learn how mankind has come  to be what it is.

High School history was confined in the main to learning American history out of a text book; names and dates driven drivel with little or no exploring the why.  This approach is what I feel is one of the reasons that kids are bored with learning history.  Fortunately when I reached my senior year I was allowed to start taking elective classes.  Two of them stand out in my memory.  One of them was an advanced American history class where the emphasis was focused on the causes….no text book in this class.  One of the sources we used was Arthur Schlesinger’s Rendezvous With Destiny.  The other class led by my favorite teacher of all time, Jonas Segal, was History of Western Thought.  There I was introduced to the ancient Greek philosophers such as Heraclitus, Anaxagoras and of course Socrates/Plato/Aristotle.

Wayne State University in Detroit, MI. my Alma Mater where I spent 5 years garnering 3 years worth of credit.  Partially because I only went part time for the last couple of years and partly because I enjoyed too well the hearts and pinochle games with my comrades in books and consequently missed a few too many classes.  Not quite on track for that PhD.  This was a time of great discoveries for me in a number of ways not the least of which was beginning to see things differently from my Sunday School upbringing.  It was in my Freshman year that I was introduced to ancient history.  The class was taught by one of the most entertaining and informative teachers I ever had,  Dr. Milton Covensky.  The class text was a book called ‘The Ancient Near East Tradition’ and was written by, yeah you guessed it, Professor Covensky.  He didn’t just teach the history of the Tigris-Euphrates and Nile Rivers, he breathed it.  He would be bouncing around from one end of the front of the classroom to the other exclaiming something or other when he would stop and say, ‘Oh this is important write this down word for word.’  The man was a joy.

Another major foray into the unknown was a class on Greek Mythology, a large lecture hall class led by a professor who we dubbed Zeus.  As this was a  large lecture we also had small classes or lab.  Mine was led the assistant prof, Tom.  Now Zeus and Tom were not that much older than me and we developed a rapport not only scholastically but socially as well.  A little time period context I think is in order here.  The early 1970’s as most of you are probably aware were years of tremendous social and global upheavals and for me a lot of changes.  Anyway, I used to party with Zeus and Tom, indeed that time period is best seen through a smoky haze if you know what I mean.  But I digress, after completing the required classes, I went full tilt into history.  I was taking anthropology, geology, and even an advanced  class learning Ancient Greek.  The last class I took before dropping out was a high level class on life in ancient Greece and Rome.  If I had actually matriculated it would have been with a Major in Classical Civilization and a Minor in Anthropology.  Alas, I have remained an amateur.

Thus ended my formal education.  In the years since that time I have done a lot of reading about history.  My desire to learn about mankind’s past has not dissipated as I have gotten older.  In fact it has probably grown along with me.  My views on history, however, have changed.  In my youth I was inundated with the thoughts and ideas of a Judeo-Christian tradition which colored my views of the world.  A Biblical world view if you will.  A literal interpretation of the stories told in the Old Testament, the idea that Manifest Destiny was God’s Will for America, that our Founding Fathers were upright Christians; and so on, this mindset was gradually being chipped away as when a river slowly erodes away the narrow valley walls and broadens the channel.

Going to skip ahead to my present day mindset as the previous 30 years was mostly taken up with raising a family and putting food on the table and while I was still an avid reader I was still wrestling with man’s place, indeed God’s place in the cosmos.  What I have become in my 60’s is basically a cynic.  A cynic regarding big business, a cynic regarding American government, a cynic regarding mankind’s ability to live together in peace, a cynic regarding religion, a bonafide, card carrying cynic.

I am a firm believer in the tenet expressed below to wit; history does repeat as mankind does it’s best to ignore any lessons learned.  I know the source isn’t what you would call scientific but I like this quote from The Princess Bride, “You fell victim to one of the classic blunders – The most famous of which is “never get involved in a land war in Asia”   How many times has that nugget of advice been ignored?

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So what does all any of this mean, boys and girls?  What is so blasted important about history?  My cynical mind screams ‘just look around and see the shape of the world we live in’.  The effects of our past are made manifest daily in the here and now.  This is why I feel that the study of history is important as long as it is taught without bias.  Learning American history through the mindset of ‘Manifest Destiny’ doesn’t qualify.  In the end, I’m afraid, we’re probably doomed to repeat the same mistakes.  Mankind has always shown the ability to justify nefarious deeds, indeed there has rarely been any reluctance to do otherwise and I suspect that will continue.  The ‘powers that be’, the moneyed interests who exist behind those who rule wouldn’t have it any other way.

Told you I was a cynic.  🙂

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