Sunday, July 7, 2013

Why you won't see me on the PGA Tour

It's a pleasant summer evening, I'm probably somewhere between the ages of 5 and 8, and I'm with my uncle at a driving range.

I've been spending some time with my uncle, who lives in a city about an hour and a half from where I live. He's a Catholic priest, a published poet whose acquaintances include Marshall McLuhan, and the head of the library at the local Catholic college.

He's especially interested in me because I was able to read at a very early age. This leads him to believe that I am, among other things, capable of understanding Aristotle. When he tries to lecture me on this topic, I manage to disabuse him of this notion very quickly.

At this point in his life, my uncle has done some golfing. In retrospect, I suspect he never did much of it, but I think someone gave him some clubs and he decided to take it up. And now we're ready to tee off -- my uncle, another priest who's a friend of his and has accompanied us, and little old me, who is armed with a kiddie club my uncle has purchased for me.

My ball in position, I take a swing and hit it into the vast expanse in front of me.

But not before yelling "FORE!"

My uncle leans down and explains that I do not need to yell "FORE!" because there is no one out there to be injured by the ball.

I nod, set up another ball, take a swing and hit it into the vast expanse in front of me.

But not before yelling ... well, you know.

I don't know how many times my uncle tried to explain to me why I didn't have to yell "FORE!" Maybe I stopped after the second time, but I wouldn't bet any money on that. All I know is that I had been conditioned by who knows how many TV shows, comic books and cartoons to the extent that when I hit a golf ball, I feel I HAVE to yell "FORE!"

You might as well try to tell Pavlov's pups not to drool when that little bell rings.

That's the only memory I have of that evening. I think it's the only time my uncle ever got mad at me. And now that I think of it, some of the other golfers might have been giving us unkind looks, and because my uncle had left his clerical collar at home, he couldn't count on them to give him a mulligan.

But on the plus side, I suspect that my behavior that night conclusively convinced him that any further lecturing involving any moral philosopher above the level of Dick Tracy would be a tragic waste of breath.

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