Archive for Stories

Just a Normal Guy

I play golf a lot, and many times I play alone. Back in the day, most courses didn’t allow players to play alone. I stumbled upon such a course yesterday, and they put me with another group of three. Two of them I’d never seen before, but the other one was quite recognizable.

 

Matt

He told me I could take pictures, but asked me not to put them on Facebook. But… hey, he’ll never see it, ’cause he doesn’t know who I am!

“Hey, Matt,” I said, shaking hands with him. “What’re you doing in this neck of the woods?”

 

He grinned, then turned to put his clubs on the cart. “Got a couple cousins over here,” he said, nodding at the two loading their clubs on another cart. “Hey, Josh and Dan! Come over here and meet…” he looked at me for a name. “Charlie,” I said. “Come over here and meet, Charlie.” They came over, we all shook hands, then they went back to the cart. “They’re not very sociable,” he said. He grinned then sauntered over to the driver’s side of the cart. As I slid into the other side, I grinned back at him and said, “That’s okay. I ain’t either.” He grinned again and said, “Right, right, right.”

At the first tee, Josh and Dan were not happy about their respective hook and slice. Looking to cheer them up, I said, “Okay boys, I only have one rule; get back to the house without hurting anyone.” Josh and Dan looked at me like they thought I wasn’t funny, but Matt laughed and punched my shoulder. “Gonna be a good day,” he said.

And it was. We had a good time all day, listening to Dan and Josh grumble and cuss as we tried to help them find their golf balls. The trees and brush lining the fairways were thick, and those boys seemed to like to play anywhere but the fairway.

As we were heading from number seventeen green over to the last tee, Matt looked over and said, “Pops (that’s what he’d decided to call me), I enjoyed the heck outta playing golf with you today.” I said, “Well, the feeling is mutual, son. You’re an okay fella.”

As we climbed out of the cart at the eighteenth tee, he met me around back of the cart and said, “You treat me like a normal guy. I like that.”

“Well… Matt…” I said. “You are fairly normal.” I was grinning, but before I continued, I put on a serious face. “And besides, you’re not the most famous actor I’ve ever met.”

He looked at me with a hurt expression and said, “Right, right, right. And who was this famous actor you met before me?”

I pulled my driver from my bag and said, “Jimmy Caan.”

“Who?” He said, with a confused look on his face.

We both got a laugh out of that and were still chuckling as we watched Josh hook his drive into the number ten fairway. He blamed us, saying we’d been messing up his game all day with our constant chatter and giggling. That got us to laughing out loud, which didn’t help Dan’s slice a bit.

The glare he gave us after his ball vanished into the pines led me to believe we might not make it back to the house without somebody getting hurt.

 

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No Buts About It!

santa & rudolphI’m usually a very positive person, but sometimes my big but gets in the way. I’ll start off thinking it’s going to be a good day, then say, “But! What if it rains?” See! I let my big but lower my expectations for the day by anticipating something bad.

There’s no buts about it, we all have big buts, and try as we might, it seems we can’t totally get rid of them. But! We can reduce the negative influence of our buts and eventually put them in their place: behind us.

We mustn’t allow our faith to be diminished by a big but! We must proclaim our trust in God and kick buts out of our vocabulary! God is for us, and there’s no but about it! I could go on, … I think you get my point.

He didn’t do many mighty works there because of their unbelief. Matthew 13:58

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Cholly Meets the Incredible Hulk

On my first construction job, I was one of a dozen or so laborers, and our foreman, Bethel Lee, was a giant of a man from Jamaica. He was at least six and a half feet tall and weighed probably four hundred pounds.

On my first day, several of us were eating lunch in one of the unfinished rooms—about ten guys sitting on the floor, backs to the wall. I was just to the right of the door when Big Bertha (some guy with a death wish must’ve given him the nickname) came into the room.

hulkHe casually surveyed the room, a hint of a smile on his face, and when his gaze fell on me it was like I looking up at a tall building. His smile vanished, and he said, “Cholly.” His voice was deep as the ocean, and his dark eyes twinkled with either merriment or murderous intent. “You knows where ah eats ma lunch?”

“No sir.” Thinking maybe I’d unknowingly taken his spot.

His eyes sparkled, his grin got so wide it seemed to fill the room, and he said, “Anywhere ah wonts to.”

For a few long seconds, the room was silent, then everyone—except me—burst into laughter.

I just looked up at Big Bertha with a weak smile and said, “Oh.”

I guess it was his way of welcoming the new guy.

 

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Ain’t I a Hoot!

 

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This is yours truly, demonstrating how to properly attire one’s beverage of choice while on the links. On this day I’d chosen the lime green Rimz One koozie to keep my Shiner Bock nice and cool.

I have been known to be a bit of a smart aleck now and then. No, no, I understand how most of you will find that hard to believe, but it’s true. Every once in a great while, I slip from my mild-mannered, courteous ways, and say something inappropriate.

 

My golfing buddy Jay Bird has often wandered into the path of one of my salvos, but being a bit of a wise-guy his own-self, he usually walks away none the worse for wear. I got him good one day though.

We were playing a nice course out Kingsland way called The Legends. It’s one of those rolling, wide-open golf courses, where guys like us can usually get back to the clubhouse without hurting anyone or breaking any windows. Jay Bird does not like to play on those courses that have houses lining the fairways; freaks him out worse than a water hazard full of alligators.

So, we were in the middle of one of those wide, rolling fairways, and Jay Bird’s ball had come to rest on a slope. The ball was below his feet, and he was trying to figure out how to set up to hit it properly. He discussed the situation with himself—at length—and when he finally reached the conclusion of the self-seminar, he took a mighty swing and hit the ball about ten feet directly to the right of where he was standing.

He turned, threw out his hands—he said he didn’t mean to throw the club, but I gave him a seven for distance and a eight for form—and commenced to complaining as to how he never could remember how to set up for a shot when the ball was below his feet. As we drove over to get his club, I shrugged and said, “You shoulda asked me.”

“Oh,” he said, as he hopped out of the cart, picked up his club, and started walking back to his ball. It was on level ground this time, and he hit a decent shot that landed just short of the green.

A few holes later, he found himself with another shot, almost identical to the one he’d muffed before. He chose a club, walked over and surveyed the situation, then turned to me and said, “Okay, Mr. Palmer, how am I supposed to set up to hit this shot?”

I shrugged my shoulders and said, “Beats me.”

One of his eyebrows shot up high on his forehead, and he said, “Well, you told me I should ask you!”

I smiled and said, “I didn’t say I would know.”

Ain’t I a hoot?

 

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The Cake Incident

When my boys were about seven and nine years old there occurred what I’ve dubbed “The Cake Incident”. Their mom, Evelyn had an uncanny ability (I know none of you moms out there had/have this) to tune the boys out, and zero in on what she was watching on TV. I was not blessed with the ability to tune them out, so I heard every word they said. I didn’t mind. Quite often, they were better entertainment than what was on television.

cake incidentSo, there we were, having a quiet evening at home, Mom relaxing on the couch, watching TV; me in my recliner, and the boys playing on the living room floor. Billy, the oldest, leaned over and asked little brother, Wes, “Hey, Wes, you want some cake?”

Wes nodded enthusiastically, and Billy looked over at Mom and says, “Hey, Mom, can we have some cake?”

Nothing.

So, the boys went back to playing, and about five minutes later, Billy leaned over to Wes and said, “Wes! You still want some cake, right?”

Wes is really into the idea of cake by then, and his nod is even more enthusiastic. Wes was a boy of few words, mind you, but when he decided to speak, he could blow your mind. (Still can.)

Billy looks at his mom, and a little louder this time, says, “Hey, Mom! Can we have some cake?”

Nothing. Zonesville.

So, they returned to their toys, and after a few more minutes had passed, Billy leaned over to Wes and says, “Okay, Wes, I’m gonna ask her one more time, then we’ll start tearin’ stuff up.” Wes got a wide-eyed look on his face, glanced over at his mom, then shrugged and gave a curt nod of approval.

I said, “Evelyn, you better get the boys some cake.”

She said, “Huh, what?”

The boys got some cake.

 

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Wows and Holy Cows

pink bugBack in the late seventies, I worked as a logger in the foothills of Mt. Rainier. The work was hard, and as a result, I was in the best shape of my life.

For a couple of those years my “ride” was a 1963 VW Bug, with little flowers painted all over the inside. The other loggers would just shake their heads sadly when I’d come “roaring into the parking lot each morning.

Out of necessity, I learned how to change out an engine on that VW bug. I drove the little car hard, and when the engine went kaput, somebody told me it was easy to take the old engine out and put another one in.

Briefly, here’s the procedure. There are four bolts holding the engine in place—and of course other smaller nuts & screws had to be removed to disengage various smaller parts. Once the bolts and screws were removed, you stood inside the engine compartment at the rear of the car, twisted the engine, pulled it out and dropped it on the floor of the garage. Without the engine, the back of the car was light as a feather, so the next step was to lift the car and roll it over the old motor and set it back down. It was a bit tricky, in that you had to straddle the engine as you walked the car forward. Next, you’d slide the old motor out of the way, slide the new on into place, and reverse the procedure to install the new engine. Piece-a-cake!

So anyhow, one Saturday morning, I was preparing to install an engine in the VW for the second time, and when I mention this to my son Billy, who was eight at the time, his eyes got wide, and he said, “Cool!”, then ran out the front door.

Later–I’d dropped the old engine, and was standing behind the car preparing to lift it up and over it–I crouched, gripped the bumper with both hands, and then a small voice behind me whispered, “Now… watch this!”

I turned to find Billy, his little brother, Wes, and four neighborhood boys standing in a row, bent forward, hands on their knees, waiting for the show Billy had obviously promised. Not one to disappoint my boys, I turned back to the chore at hand and to a chorus of reverent ooos, ahs, wows, and holy cows, I lifted the car up and rolled it over the engine.

When I turned around, there were six very impressed little boys standing there, eyes popping and mouths agape. I took a step toward them, did a weightlifter pose and growled fiercely. They about killed each other trying to get out of the garage.

I often wonder what happened to my little pink VW bug; probably a pile of rust somewhere up near the base of Mt. Rainier.

 

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Lesson Learned

Wes was 8 and Billy was 10, and we were home alone. I’d turned the oven on and then continued watching television with them while it heated up. After fifteen or so minutes, Billy reminded me it was dinner time, and Wes, ever the parrot, said, “Yeah… dinner.”

I got up and headed for the kitchen, the boys hot on my heels, and when I opened the oven door, they were standing side-by-side a few feet away.

exploding ovenI failed to notice the oven hadn’t lit, and when I opened the door, the combination of propane, oxygen and pilot light created a minor explosion. Thankfully, it didn’t go, BOOM, and only made a muffled, “POOMF” sound. Looking back, we were lucky I didn’t blow the house up. The extent of the damage was my moustache was fabulously curly, and I had no eyebrows.

The boys had scurried into their room, which was adjacent to the kitchen, and were staring, wide-eyed, at me from the doorway. When I smiled, they figured the excitement was over, and came scampering back into the kitchen.

They looked in the empty oven, then looked up at me. Billy grinned and said, “Cool!”

Wes said, “Yeah… cool.”

Lesson: Never close the door and walk away from a gas oven until you know it’s lit.

 

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