Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Aren't We Getting a Little Old for This Sh..?

"Holy shit that reference is tired
even by your standards."
I had planned to devote last week to falling on my sword for not only leaving Rory McIlroy out of my top 10 for the PGA Championship,* but making the fact that I was leaving him out the centerpiece of my tournament preview.** But then I wandered down a different path and started rehashing my traditional August weekend on Maryland's Eastern Shore which over the past two summers*** has turned into my personal Sodom and Gommorrah.**** (Warning: I am about to obliterate the FGR Endnote record so when I hit the quintuple asterisk mark, I'm going start using "+" signs and THAT'S why the guys in my car club call me "The Cruiser"). 

Regular readers of the FGR will recall that every year in August I hook-up with a group of old friends for a 36 hour bender interrupted by what could loosely be described as a round of golf. The rest of the crew actually goes for about 56 hours but I usually pull the ripcord early because there is no golf tournament to sustain the adrenaline rush that keeps my liver operating at a rate exceeding manufacturer's guidelines and, more importantly, when you're the instigator and you're giving away 30-100 pounds to every other member of the group, your odds of ending-up in the hospital increase exponentially by the hour. 

This year's event had a few distinguishing features that were inevitably going to change the dynamic: (1) We were staying in a hotel instead of the home of our host's mother which introduced a variety of outside factors that I will get to in a minute, (2) it is an election year and this group loves to talk themselves some politics (and I use the word "talk" loosely as not one of them has an "inside" voice) and (3) I was rolling-in with a nasty sinus headache+ which was going to make No. 2 brutal.++    

The first night was fairly uneventful until I decided to slide out the backdoor of the bar (via the kitchen which is always dicey considering you're trespassing in a place where literally everyone is holding a blade). I hit Burger King and was headed back to my hotel room with the vision of nothing but me, my Whopper and the Olympics but as I exited the elevator I could hear the din all the way down the hall and it kept getting louder as I got closer until I was standing right outside and there was no longer any doubt that the entire seven man crew was in there. NOOOOO!!!!!!! I immediately reversed field and headed back downstairs where I dined in peace on one of the hotel's outside tables as I gauged the temperature and debated sleeping in my car.


"No, seriously man you can
have the key to my room."
When I got back to the room, it was actually worse than I had anticipated. There was a cooler on the floor and everyone was lounging on the beds except the biggest member of the group (we'll call him "the Bear" though he has a better nickname than that but you get the picture) who was careening and gesturing wildly with one of those small hotel bathroom glasses full of bourbon in his hand. Somehow he was doing this without spilling a drop even when three other guys tackled him on my bed. It wasn't until the fourth guy hit his arm that he dumped the entire glass on my pillow at which point I requested the key to another room and, to my surprise, someone obliged. (The difference between being in your 40's and being in your 20's is that if you make that request in your 20's, you might get a "fuck you" if you get any response at all. When you're in your 40's, however, everyone else in the room knows that could just as easily be him).

I woke-up around 2:00 a.m. when the Bear came rolling-in and fortunately landed on the open bed (note to self, when you're the first guy in the room, never take the bed by the door). At about 2:15, he got up and went out on the balcony to have a cigarette and I remember thinking, "we don't have a balcony" (turns-out he was standing on the roof). The snoring started around 2:45 and was on and off until about 3:30. At 5:00, I was dead asleep when I heard, "I'm fucking starving. Be right back . . . I'll get you something." I remember saying "thanks" and went back to sleep until he rolled back in around 6:00. It looked like he had walked into a 7-11, pointed to the right half of the store and said "give me that."   
"Dats me boys."

The next day was fairly typical. Woke-up around 8:30, had a slice of 7-11 pizza and a few beers while we waited for the rain to stop. Played a sloppy round of golf with a couple of 30+ handicaps, one of whom announced that he hated golf after every shot until I told him to stop playing because he was starting to make me feel the same way. By that point, we were listening to music while debating the all-stars at every band position+++ and we'd switched to vodka so the golf shots had really become incidental (as if they hadn't been the whole round). When I got back to my room, a letter from the hotel had been slipped under the door and I wasn't quite sure of its purpose until I got past the niceties to the second paragraph which concluded, "we will therefore be forced to charge you a $250 additional cleaning fee." Sweet. Long story short, I negotiated it down to $125, got a few bucks from the Bear and chalked it up to a sign that we were at least still young enough to trash a hotel room.

A few more beers that night devolved into another politicized shouting match on the van ride home and the next thing I knew I was back in my adopted room laughing at the always entertaining sound of "drunk guy with little to lose" arguing with "hotel security guy with little leverage." Unfortunately, that inevitably dovetails into "drunk guy with a lot to lose" mollifying "local policeman with a ton of leverage . . . and a gun" and this night would be no exception. Funny how interactions with the Po-Po evolve as you get older and the prospect of getting handcuffed doesn't seem quite as cool and rebellious.    

"Look mutherfucker, if you keep
telling me the cocktail sauce was
on the rug when you checked-in,
we're gonna be here all night."
The next morning at breakfast I faced a moment of truth as the Screwdriver orders were going in and I sat squarely on the fence. On one side, I had a day of barstools and good times that would inevitably end on a couch about an hour from my house followed by me waking-up the next morning and scrambling to make my 9:40 a.m. tee time but only after an awkward stop at home to tell everyone I'd see them five hours later (at which point I would almost immediately crash on the couch . . . "SHHHH, daddy's sleeping"). On the other side, I had a turkey club sandwich by the pool with the family and a full night's sleep in my own bed with no snoring roommate, no bourbon on my pillow and little to no threat of arrest.

I remember laboring over a similar decision during my first summer after college. I was sitting on the deck of a beach club overlooking the Atlantic Ocean about 250 miles from home drinking beers on a Sunday afternoon and debating the merits of either going back that night so I could be at work on Monday for the crappy office job that I had had for a week or staying one more night. After about 15 minutes, someone at the table finally put it in perspective and said, "oh my God the new guy isn't coming in today . . . what are we gonna to do?" Suffice it to say I stayed another night and quit the job four days later. What does that have to do with my decision last weekend? Nothing really because I packed my bags and went home to my family and my club sandwich. I just thought that was a pretty good line.

Endnotes

* If the FGR is accomplishing nothing else, it is redefining the term "loud wrong".

** Past two summers?!? Wasn't that den of iniquity you called a college located on the Eastern Shore? . . . Ah yes, the voice of reason makes a valid point. In the second sentence above, please change the word "two" to "twenty-five" and the word "summers" to "years".

*** I've always wondered if the descendants of Gommorrah felt short-changed because the legend of the Sodomites lives on today while no one's ever heard of a Gommorrahite when I'm sure they partied just as hard. Speaking of which, did anyone see George Michael perform one of my favorite songs that I would never admit that I liked***** at the closing ceremonies of the Olympics? That wasn't a guy who just lost his fastball. That was a guy who might not be able to scale the mound anymore. It looked like they shot him with a tranquilizer dart because he threatened to take his pants off as he was heading for the stage.   

"Suck it up you wuss."
***** You learn all kinds of random crap while doing research for a fantasy golf website like the fact that the video for Freedom 90 was directed by David Fincher who is arguably the best film director of the last twenty years (Se7en, Fight ClubThe Social Network and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo). Also, the model in the video that I always thought was the hottest was not Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Christy Turlington or Linda Evangalista but the other one and I never knew her name was Tatjana Patitz. (Turns out Naomi was saving her best work for later - Campbell and MJ . . . this was right about the time we started asking, "do you notice anything weird about Michael?").

+ And of course you can't tell anyone you have a sinus headache because then you're basically an antelope hobbling across the Serengeti in a walking boot.  

++ I have the rather unique political perspective of both spending lot of time hanging-out in places where rich white guys congregate and being related by marriage to a person who spent a significant part of her professional career as an inner city social worker in one of the places that pops into the minds of television producers when they think, "we need to depict hopelessness." With that background, I've heard pretty much all of the arguments and the only thing I can say with absolute certainty is that the extremes have reached that same point that doomed marriages reach when the two sides can't even remember why they're yelling at each other. All they know is that they hate each other's guts. At the risk of politicizing the FGR (despite the fact that I am taking no position on any issue), let me suggest the following guidelines to help turn up the heat on an already thermonuclear debate: (1) When debating an issue, always remember that the side you favor is indisputably 100% in the right economically, ethically and especially morally; (2) calling the opposing candidate on either side an idiot is a great comeback in the rare case that someone manages to puncture a hole in your argument (ignore the fact that he has graduate degrees from universities that you dream about your kids attending . . . he got those through nepotism or affirmative action because Harvard law professors are suckers for those shortcuts); and (3) physical contact like a sharp finger jab to the chest or a patronizing hand on the shoulder is a great way to emphasize your point just like increasing the volume of your voice is a great way to communicate with someone who does not speak the language you are using.     

+++ In my opinion, the battle for every position is wide open except one as John Entwistle was to bass players what Jerry Rice was to wide receivers. I am 100% right on that (I am jabbing my finger into your chest right now).