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Saturday, July 15, 2017

(3) ED IS AS DAUNTLESS AND BLOOPER PRONE AS EVER.

February 7, 1984
Fort Lauderdale    
At this moment I am looking at the ocean on my left and Bahia Mar on my right.  I moved my desk from 3its position opposite the bed to this heavenly spot under the window.  Strange that I never thought to do it before.  The room doesn’t look as well balanced, but I feel more so.
Ed is trying his darndest to be the best ex-husband who ever bounced an alimony check (two of them did so while he was in Costa Rica).  We are getting along like an old cat and dog who are used to each other’s strange ways and rather like each other’s company.  Not that the cat doesn’t occasionally hiss and the dog doesn’t growl.  After all, we are human. 
We were lying on the beach this afternoon when I described a chicken salad creation that I liked so much, I wouldn’t mind having it three or four times a week.  It contains a cut-up apple, an orange, carrots, cottage cheese, lettuce, chicken, and cucumber dressing.  Ed, very much on his good behavior, managed to restrain a “Yuck!”  Instead he remarked that it sounded like a lot of work.
 “But everything tastes so good, and it’s so good for you.  I’m going to live to be at least 129!”
“What am I going to do after that?”
We’ve worked out little problems like who does what in the kitchen without driving the other crazy.  I rinse and stack the dishes, he cleans the counters and puts stuff away.  Ed charcoal broils the main course when it’s charcoal broilable.  One night my bathing cap with the pretty flowers on it fell off the folding dryer and got charred along with the steak.  It wasn’t the sort of thing you say “Well done!” to.  But I couldn’t blame him, either.
Sometimes it’s hard work being kind and reasonable, but Ed has become the most patient of men and forgives my occasional impatience.  I have solved the problem of Dream Weavers’ stinking diesel fumes.  I like going out on the boat with Ed but detest the fumes.  I caledl the National Cancer Society, concerned not just about the acrid odor, but about particles getting into my lungs.  They recommended a particle mask, the kind worn by painters.  This takes care of the particles.  To counteract the fumes, I dab cologne on a piece of Kleenex and tuck it behind the mask.  It works!  I notice that people on passing boats look at me funny, but I look funny right back at them.    
Circa 1984
Although he is creeping up on seventy, Ed is as dauntless, bold, and blooper prone as ever. Take away his boat and his airplane with all their potential for misfortune, and you’d think the man might welcome a spell of tranquility. But no, even amid such serene surroundings as a golf course, Edward seeks out adventure where lesser men would hung back.
Take the water hazards that some fiendish engineer claimed would solve the drainage problem at the golf club. They wind picturesquely across fairways that could now be called un‑fairways. The pro shop does a lively business in twenty-five dollar retrievers because there is no way the average golfer isn’t going to lose a lot of balls in those damn ditches.
But who ever accused Ed of being average? He is not about to sacrifice any of his 25‑cent second‑hand balls if he has anything to say about it. (He kindly keeps his ex-wife supplied, too)
To describe a not atypical incident, we were on the fifth hole when I hit my second shot into the ditch. We’d had a lot of rain, so there was more than the usual amount of muddy water for the ball to conceal itself in. Poking around with a golf club, Ed gave an exclamation of triumph when he spotted it.
“Careful, dear, the bank looks slippery,” I said, as he started over the edge. He had been in a hurry to join me, so he was wearing canvas sneakers instead of cleated golf shoes. One foot skidded, then the other, and down the bank he coasted, looking rather like an otter, only less playful.
Not neglecting to rescue my ball, Edward clambered up the bank and stood there, his shirt and pants covered with mud.
“You go on without me. I’ll walk back to the club and go home.”
It was such a beautiful, balmy October day, easily in the seventies, that I hated to see him leave. “Gee, honey, it’s so warm out, I bet that mud’ll dry right out. Do you really have to go home? Couldn’t you keep on playing?”
“Okay, why not,” Ed said agreeably. So we continued on to the next hole. There was a foursome of men on an adjoining tee. It wasn’t hard for them to guess what had happened to Ed.
“And he was going after my ball,” I told them.
“You must be pretty grateful,” one of the golfers said.
“Oh, I am,” I said. “But I thought it was a shame he didn’t stay in there and find a few more while he was at it. Couldn’t convince him, though.”
The golfer studied me a moment. “And your relationship to him is . . .?”
“Well—um—“ (I could not tell a lie), “I’m his ex‑wife.”
The foursome looked at Ed as if to say, “No wonder!” and went on their way.
Edward’s next golf course adventure took place a few days later on the twelfth hole. This one was almost as scary as boat sinkings or plane crashings. It started peaceably enough when two elderly ladies let us younger folks go through on the eleventh, not knowing about Ed’s ball hunting digressions. Sure enough, on the twelfth he hit two drives into the new drainage ditch, a serpentine beauty about four feet deep with sheer sides and sludgy depths. Ed found one of his flyaway treasures—it dropped into the ditch and was barely visible in the murky water. He was able to retrieve it by getting down on all fours and coaxing it toward him with his sand wedge. While I watched him, it occurred to me that if I had a hidden camera and walked around taking pictures of golfers in strange positions, 99% of them would be Ed.
The October sun was sinking fast, and the ladies were finishing up on the eleventh green, but Ed continued searching for the second ball. He spied it wedged in the mud on the far bank.
“Come on, Ed, it’s not a gold nugget,” I said. “The ladies are catching up to us.”
“They haven’t even left the green yet. I’m going to get that ball,” Ed said with a determined look. At this point, a patient and practical man would have walked back to the cart path and crossed the bridge over the ditch, not forgetting to bring his clubs with him. Then he would have walked to the point where his ball was wedged in the mud, used his retriever, and continued on with only slightly dampened spirits.
Edward, neither patient, practical, nor the owner of a retriever, decided to take a short cut. There were two pipes extending across the ditch, each about four inches in diameter and a foot apart. He was wearing his golf shoes on this occasion; the cleats were designed for clinging to sand, not metal. Nevertheless, Ed set out while I observed his acrobatics, mesmerized. Hand alternating with foot, he teetered across the pipes like a chimpanzee in a circus act. He almost lost his balance, but at the last minute, managed a lunge to terra firma. This challenge behind him, it was a cinch to lie flat on his stomach and squirm over the edge of the bank until he was able to reach down and pry out the embedded ball.
“The ladies are coming up to the tee,” I said. “Should I wave them through?”
“No, they’ll hold us up. I’m ready, let’s go.”
Then Ed realized his clubs were still on the other side of the ditch. That was my fault. I should have gotten them for him, but I was too spellbound by his performance to leave in the middle. Moreover, I wasn’t sure which side he would end up on—the near side, the far side, or the inside. Before I could stop him from tempting fate again, Edward was making the return trip across the pipes. Midway he swayed from side to side, struggling to maintain his equilibrium. The cleats slipped, and into the ditch he went.
Wringing my hands and whimpering, “Oh dear, oh Ed,” I watched helplessly as he tried to get to his feet. It couldn’t be done, it seemed. Hanging onto the pipe with one hand, he rolled from prone to supine, making futile attempts to stand up. His visor slipped off and floated downstream. “It’s like quick‑sand!” he gasped. “I can’t seem to get any purchase,”
What can I do, I thought frantically. I had a vision of myself sitting on the pipes with my legs hanging down like a sort of ladder. Then I saw that the two ladies, no doubt having noticed Ed’s sudden disappearance and my anguished pantomime, were walking towards us. Maybe the three of us would be strong enough to haul him out. I had a feeling he wouldn’t like that, though.
Ed was finally making progress. He had managed to clutch the pipe with both hands and was dragging his mud soaked body along its length. When he reached dry land and crawled up the bank I heard him mutter, “This damn game. Never again!”
The ladies, relieved to see that Ed was safe, returned to the twelfth tee. I knew better than to urge him to finish our round. Looking like a chocolate-covered gingerbread man, he left for home and a soothing shower. By the time I arrived for dinner, an hour later, he was positively chipper. Couldn’t remember saying Never Again.
“It’s supposed to be beautiful tomorrow; how about meeting me at 2:00?” he asked. The man’s recuperative powers were almost as amazing as the feats that caused him to need them.
The next day I noticed Ed had a retriever, but he hadn’t shelled out any twenty-five dollars for it. He had found an old broom handle and taped a rusty tea strainer to the end of it. Worked fine.
July 30, i984
To Darrell McClure
I had great fun reading Ready About.  You must have been chuckling to yourself when you drew "Quick Start." It's hilarious. As for page 89's "Boating is fun, boating is fun, boating is fun . . ." this approximates what Ed and I must keep saying to ourselves on the golf course. Since you are not familiar with the game, here's a description.When Ed tees up for his drive, the only safe place to stand is behind him. After he has swung at the ball, it may go left, right, or just sit there. The latter ignominy is called a whiff. Ed has other names for it. He likes playing golf with me because my errors are as plentiful as his. In fact, this is why he sponsored my application to the Cohasset Golf Club—he told everyone he wanted to have someone he could beat.
The gods allow us just enough good shots to keep us addicted. When Ed is on the verge of quitting forever (every other day), he connects with a long, straight drive or sinks a 30‑foot putt.
It is beautiful out on the fairways on a pleasant summer day. That's when we try to convince ourselves that golfing is fun, golfing is fun, golfing is fun. Jack Barnard, an old friend of ours, has taken up golf as a retirement hobby. I assured him that golf was a wonderful way to waste time. I didn't tell him he'd better polish up his cuss words.
I concur with your "dammit" regarding the effects of aging. It is shocking to feel so young and saucy inside, only to find you are housed in a wrinkled, puckering outside. You pull on a bathing cap and your forehead slides down over your eyes. You roll your hair up on a curler and your skin goes along with it. Clearly, my skin is two sizes too big for me. I'd like to take it back and exchange it, but I'm afraid it was a Final Sale. Dammit.
Your cartoon books should indeed be republished, my funny‑bone friend. Their humor is ageless. 
Would you be a dear and autograph Ready About for me?    

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