My vacation is over. I devoted it to playing golf. I played golf every day. I played golf in Washington, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut. I teed it up in every state there was a drought--hoping to get more roll on the fairway.
My goal was to get better at golf, and I am pleased to report two results:
1. I got better.
2. I still stink.
I still struggle to break 100. The ultimate goal among senior golfers is to shoot their age. I'm lucky to shoot my body temperature.
It's pathetic to shoot 100 when you've been playing golf as long as I have, 15 years. My 13-year-old son, who started playing golf a couple of months ago, is already in the 80s. I expect my dog to break 90 by Wednesday.
"Maybe you ought to play tennis," my daughter said sweetly.
"If I can't hit a golf ball that's sitting still, what chance would I have with a moving tennis ball?" I told her.
I don't get it. I bought the best equipment. I bought the best shoes. You oughta see my golf shirts.
So it's gotta be me, right?
I am my own handicap, hahaha.
(That's a golf joke. So is this: Two guys are on the 14th tee one afternoon when they notice a funeral procession going by the golf course. One of the men takes off his hat and bows his head. Moved by this unusual display of respect, his playing partner inquires politely, "You knew the deceased?" The man nods, then hits his tee shot and says, "We would have been married 30 years today." Bada-bing.)
Anyway, my golf story concerns the time a few weeks ago that I played golf in Gettysburg, Pa. There were four of us: Me, my friends Johnny and Fred, and Johnny's friend Jack. Jack was the biggest hitter of the bunch, and he'd just hit a huge drive on the sixth hole when disaster struck: Taking a big gulp from a can of soda, Jack swallowed a bee, which stung him in the throat on the way down!
Jack immediately began coughing violently, trying to expel the bee. But it was too late. The bee was already on its way to his stomach.
"What should I do?" Jack asked all of us.
"Are you allergic to bee stings?" Johnny asked.
"I don't know," Jack said.
"Well, are you swelling up?" Johnny asked.
"No. Not yet anyway," Jack said.
Jack looked at us. We looked at Jack.
I didn't know Jack well at all. But he looked okay to me. And we'd driven over an hour to play at this course, which was really nice. And it was such a lovely day. And we were only on the sixth hole. And we had paid nearly $100 for the round. And me, personally, I was hitting my five-wood great. So I said, "Let's keep playing."
I mean, what's the worst that could have happened? Jack dies, right? Then we'd have had to drag him hole to hole until we finished the round. But as my friend Denis says, "That's why there are two seats in a golf cart."
So we played on, and finished all 18 holes.
Jack was still hitting big drives, but by the end of the round, he was having trouble breathing. Jack's left side began to swell up on No. 16. He said he could feel himself expanding, like a balloon. A couple of times he wondered if he should stop playing, in case he risked having a heart seizure. But Jack was a real trouper. He even made a few pars on the back nine, after he stopped coughing. Which I really appreciated, because Jack and I were partners, and I couldn't putt for squat.
After the round we stopped at the grill and ordered lunch, but in consideration of Jack's medical condition, we told them to wrap it "to go" then took Jack to the emergency room in Gettysburg.
I told this story to my friends Nancy and Susan, and they were aghast that we finished the round--and ordered lunch.
"Guys are unbelievable," Susan said. "If these had been women playing, we would have driven her to the emergency room immediately. The only thing that could have stopped us was a good sale."
"How could you not go straight to the hospital as soon as your friend got that bee sting?" Nancy asked.
"Because there was no hospital between Number 6 and Number 7," I said.
Women! I mean, it's not like Jack got his foot caught in a fairway mower.
(Did I mention how well I was hitting my five-wood?)
So we took Jack to the hospital, and they kept him under observation in the emergency room for three hours to make sure he wasn't suffering toxicity. Jack phoned his wife to explain he'd swallowed a bee, and he wouldn't be home for a while. Twice he had to ask her to stop laughing.
Jack didn't want us to wait for him; he said he'd take a cab home, which I thought was a real nice gesture on his part because if we left then, we'd have been back in Washington by 3:30, and we could have gotten in another 18 before dark. But a cab from Gettysburg to Washington would've probably cost $100. So we waited for him.
"That's the least you could do," Nancy said. "Was there anything good to read in the waiting room?"
"How should I know?" I said. "We had three hours to kill. We went into town and toured the battlefields and had some ice cream."
"You left him alone in the emergency room?" Nancy asked in horror.
"Sure," I said.
"Are you crazy? You never leave somebody alone in an emergency room. You never, ever leave the waiting room. Because when you come back, they're gone! And nobody knows where they are."
I know where I'd be. In the rough.