Playing Hooky

The great thing about being the boss is that you can take off work whenever you want.

Yeah, right.  As if that ever happens.  The truth is…you end up working longer and harder than non-boss types.  At least that’s what happens if you do it right.

Virtually every day, I say to myself, “Maybe I’ll leave a little early today.”  Never happens.

On Tuesday, I kept the promise to myself.  My trial in which my client faced nasty punitive damages for a stupid-ass thing his employee had done settled on Friday.  Thus, my long weekend was spared.

But, in preparing for trial, you spend a lot of hours on the job.  Even when you’re not working, you’re working as you are constantly thinking about the trial.  It can be all-consuming.

At my last job I had a good boss who gave all lawyers the day off following trial.  This also applied to cases which settled on the eve of trial (as in my case on Friday).  I decided to extend this benefit to myself on Tuesday.

Plus, it was a beautiful, sunny, 90 degree day.

In the summer, I enjoy three sports: cycling; kayaking; and disc golf.

“Disc golf?” you ask.  “That game with the frisbees?”

“Yes,” I respond.  “And they’re called discs.

Truth is, two years ago I was recovering from a bad case of plantar fascitis and I needed a sport that was low impact on my heels and arches.  Disc golf fit the bill.

And I grew to love the game.  I have been playing real golf since age 16, and I have never really liked it (see A (Very) Short History of Golf).

Disc golf (some people call it “frolf”) is different.  You fling discs across ravines and over creeks.  You bend flights around trees and other obstacles.  The object is to slam the disc into the chains of the basket.  There are 18 “holes” each complete with a tee, fairways and rough.  Some courses are entirely through the woods.  Others are around deep chasms.  Still more feature varied terrain.

There are three types of discs in your bag:

  1. Drivers — some designed purely for distance; others to go as straight as possible a long way.  They have sharp edges.
  2. Mid-range — these tend to curve less than drivers.  There is a ridge on the edge to wrap your index finger around.
  3. Putters — these discs are smaller, and more rubbery.  They are designed to catch the chains and drop into the basket.

One of the things I love about the game is that I can play with my son, Subway Dude.  It’s fun to watch him get better each year.

The Fashionista plays too!

Another thing is that we get the chance to team up and play with others we meet on courses.  Disc golfers are friendly and much less stuffy than regular golfers.

Finally, there’s the cost.  Once you pay for your discs, you’re all set.  There are no greens fees.

On Tuesday, I decided to leave work and play a new course which had just been constructed.  It is located in a county park on a narrow strip of land between a river (here despite their size, they’re called “creeks” — oddly enough, in Texas they’re called rivers, but they are really creeks) and the Erie Canal.  I couldn’t wait to try it out.

I went into the office and answered the mail that had been lying around for a few days.  At about 11:30, split without guilt or hesitation.  By noon, I was at the first tee.

“How great,” I thought to myself.  “I’m the only one here.  Everyone else is at work.  Poor saps.”

Little did I realize that one of the reasons that no one else was playing was because the course was under water.  You see, it had rain heavily on a daily basis for almost the past month.  There were deep puddles everywhere on the course.

“No big,” I reassured myself.  “I brought my boots.”

I started off wonderfully, parring every hole.  Making great shots.  As it was my first time playing this new course (and as there was no one around), I was kind to myself.  I took extra shots if I was unsatisfied with one of my throws.

After completing the 7th hole, the course turned away from the river and headed to a section of the park that I had never noticed before.  It was heavily wooded and the grass was thick.  I was walking through deeper and deeper puddles.  The heat and humidity were Vietnam-strength.

Suddenly, I realized I was no longer alone.  I encountered many new friends.  On second thought, they weren’t my friends at all — friendship is a two-way street.  I wanted nothing to do with them.  They, on the other hand, wanted to suck my blood until I was a mere husk of a man.

I reached into my golf bag for my trusty sidearm: Deep Woods OFF! with extra Deet (I love the sound of that word “Deet”).

Suck this, mosquitoes.

Gasp!  No OFF!.  Then I remembered that Subway Dude had removed it from the bag the prior Sunday when we were playing another course.  Why he didn’t return it there still puzzles me.

No matter.  As a prior military officer, I have been trained to build redundancy into each operation.  I drew comfort in the fact that I had an even bigger bottle of OFF! in the truck.

I waddled my way back through the marshy fields toward my vehicle.  Along the way, I had to swing my arms wildly to keep the mosquitoes off.  I used the discs as shields to flatten my opponents.

“You have no right to get mad at the bugs,” I told myself.  “You are the stranger entering their home.”  I realized that I was probably the only human bite they had had all day.  This meant that I was the only one stupid enough to play this course when it was largely under water.

When I arrived at my truck, I swaggered toward glove box.  “Master of the Universe,” I stated as I flung it open.  “No mosquitoes will stop me today.  I’m much higher on the food chain.”

Gasp again!  No OFF!  No Deet.  No deep woods repellent action.  Running Girl had removed the spray from my vehicle during our last picnic.

This is when I realized how much I love my family.  To demonstrate this affection, I sent a wonderful text message to my spouse.  It read something like this:

YOU HAVE F***ED UP MY DAY!

What can I say?  If The Major were perfect, no one would want to read this blog, right?

RG and I are now on speaking terms again.  BTW, she denies taking my bug spray.

“I will not be defeated by insects,” I boldly proclaimed loudly to anyone nearby who cared to listen.  The slacker dudes in the car next to me cocked their heads like uncomprehending dogs.  Instead of starting the disc golf game they had intended, they got in their cars and rode away.

Onward I slogged for eight or nine holes more.  The puddles drew deeper.  The water grew murkier.

The mosquitoes were not the little black, buzzy kind that you encounter when you sit out in your backyard after dark.  They were the big, brazen gray beasts whose weight you feel when they alight on your body.  They leave imprints.  They only good thing is that they move slowly and you have time to spank them over the head before they begin to pump you like a Saudi Arabian drill head.

Tee, 18th Hole. I didn't even bother.

I must say, the 16th hole which ran along the Erie Canal was nice.  The breeze there kept the monsters away.  However, the entire 17th and 18th holes were completely submerged.  I surveyed them for next time without tossing a single disc.

On the way home, I stopped at the Emergency Room for a transfusion of O Positive bike shop to fix Running Girl’s flat tire.  I figured it was the least I could do, considering how I had lit her up for stealing my bug spray.

I went home and spent the remainder of my day working on the pool.  I am happy to report we have now left the “pond” stage entirely.  Swimming and hot-tubbing (RG’s second-favorite summer sport) are not too far away.

And that, gentle readers, is how I spent my afternoon playing hooky.

Envy me!

— The Major

I'll be back another day.

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