Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Geezers

My regular golf partner is away for 3 weeks vacation so I showed up at the golf course hoping to get teamed up with someone. This is usually not a problem since there are always groups short of a foursome. Sure enough, Sal, the starter, says he has a threesome I can join. He tells me that all are old geezers, but I don't complain since I just want to get out. I usually try to walk for the exercise when I play, but because most people seem to prefer riding in a cart, especially in the heat, I rented a cart. As I pulled up to the first tee, imagine my surprise when I see that all the geezers are walking and here I am riding like a girley-man. I felt even worse when they introduced themselves: Bob is 84, Skip is 85, and Freddy is 89.

One of the things I like about golf is that it's a highly social game. The walk between shots, and standing around on the tee waiting your turn to hit affords plenty of time for chit chat. I learn that all three geezers are ex-Marines who served in WWII. Bob saw action at Iwo Jima, and Chip and Fred were at the battle of Okinawa. Fred told me he remembers digging a foxhole on Okinawa as his buddies serenaded him on his 23rd birthday. None of these guys could hit the ball very far, but that didn't matter much. Since I had the cart and their eyesight was poor, I would help them find the balls they sprayed all over the place. Despite being in their eighties, the geezers were full of P&V and needled each other mercilessly.

If Fred mis-hit a ball and it only traveled 20 yards, Skip would ask him if his club got caught on his skirt. When Bob would leave a long putt 20 feet short of the hole, and he did this often, Freddie would ask him if his husband played too. And he said this after every weak putt Bob hit. All through the round, one or the other would pull a club from his bag and proudly tell me he paid only $19 for it at a garage sale. Of course the rejoinder was not long in coming from the other geezers: "Why that's perfect, since you've only got a $19 swing." These were friends who had passed through a lot as young men and who were obviously enjoying each others' company very much. Skip had to leave us after 9 holes because he cares for an invalid wife. I'm sure his time on the golf course is a welcome break from a hard routine.

We were playing slowly since a man in front of us was teaching his son the game and not really moving along as per the rules of golf. Freddy, at 89 the most impatient of the three, maybe figuring he had less time left on earth than the others, had to be restrained from hitting into this group to speed them up. Fred also had the marvelous habit of uttering the following words after every shot: "Freddie, you got to HIT the fu**ing ball!" Every once in a while one of them would weigh in on things like politics. Clearly all three were conservatives and didn't like one bit the direction the country was taking. They resent that America gets pushed around by "these little piss-ant countries who all hate us until they need our help."

The geezers are a dying breed. As young men they saw indescribable horrors that no one should have to see. By the grace of God they came back in one piece and got to live out their lives in the country for which they and their comrades fought and died. Patriotism ran high in WWII with many young men lying about their ages to get into the war. They didn't complain, didn't protest or run to Canada, they just did what their country asked of them. I'll be honest with you, when Sal told me he was sending me out today with three eighty-somethings, I wasn't exactly thrilled. I felt very differently though after finding out who I had the singular honor to be playing with.


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Joseph Del Broccolo said...

makes you glad they came before the present generation!

Jim Pantaleno said...

For sure or we'd be speaking German!

The Whiner said...

Hey we're not all that bad! By the way in a few years that will be you, old man. Sounds like a fun time.