Wednesday, December 16, 2009

CT road trip

So, I think it may be time to revisit my trip to Upstate NY and Foxwoods Casino. I had ended the last post about this with me leaving my cousin's house, in Charlotte, after having a great time golfing and hanging with friends and family. I like it there, and I started to feel that way that Monday morning as I drove north on I-77.

It is a beautiful drive as you leave the city and drive through Statesboro, where the speed limit decreases to like 55, by the way. After avoiding that speed trap, that does not accomplish anything because people fly through there anyway, you begin the climb into the the Blue Ridge Mountains. I love the high country! I've gone off on the rant before, so I'll skip it now...

Anyway, the drive to I-81, through Virginia, into West Va for a short time (like 8 miles or something), then into Maryland (for another 15 miles or something), and finally across the Pa border was uneventful, thankfully. No bad weather, few drivers that made me say "Huh? What is WRONG with you?", so, it was all nice. Once I got closer to NY state I called my buddy, Mike. I had to get the final directions to his home near Albany.

Mike is one of my closest friends. We have known each other since he came from that "church school" that he attended until the 6th grade. He and I became fast friends because we both loved sports. We played soccer, basketball and golf together in high school. Mike and I, along with other friends, had the fortunate opportunity to travel to Spain during our junior year in high school. We went to separate colleges but have stayed in close touch. Mike was in my wedding, but only the first one. The distinction of attending both of my weddings goes to a couple of other very good friends who are actually a brother-sister combo. Thanks you John and Robin.

Ok, so Mike and I are close, and he told me over the summer that if I got my butt to NY he would take me to the Jets-Jags game in Giants Stadium. I wonder if the Jets get psyched to play once they think about playing in a stadium named after their cross town rivals? Well, I could not pass this up, especially because I already knew he had great seats on the lower level. I was only hoping the Jags could give me bragging rights at the end of the week.

I was able to reach Mike and get directions. Actually, let me re-phrase that last sentence. I was unable to directly reach Mike by phone, so I left him a message. I then stopped for a bathroom break at a roadside rest area. Once I got back into my car, where I had left my phone, I saw that I had three messages. Amazing how that happens, isn't it? I drive all day long, getting the rare call from the wife, but more or less hearing from no one, and then I am away from my phone for 15 minutes and I get three messages. Is that ironic?

Not really. Mike had left me three messages. The first one was directions to his home in Saratoga Springs. The second message was something about whether his home in Albany was closer to Foxwoods, Ct. or his second place in Liberty, NY. Mike is a Superintendent of a public school district in Liberty, NY. His message was going on about I could go either to Saratoga or Liberty and he was giving my some lock box number for his place in Saratoga. I don't know really, cause the message went on for a while. The third message was a list of three or four phone numbers with the name of his assistant and which number was best to text him, call him, or send him Facebook messages. The third message was directions to his place in Liberty, I think.

See, I'm not sure EXACTLY what any of the messages were because I was driving down the road at that point. Mike is one of the most organized and particular people I know. He could make a Nazi look frumpy. I think that is part of why he is so damn successful. At least I had the info, which was necessary. Eventually, I was able to reach Mike and we decided I would come to Liberty, NY and we would get something to eat that night and watch MNF.

I met Mike at his office behind the high school. He has done a lot of good things for that school. They have new fields, a new gym, a new cafeteria (maybe), and they remodeled the auditorium. All of this is because his apparent ability to prove to the state of NY that his district deserves the money more than other districts. The school, and I saw the old parts as well, definitely needed a face lift. As Mike and I toured the school we would run into teachers and even students who all seemed genuinely happy to see him. One of the male teachers even made a comment about all Mike has done for them since he began as their Super.

I told the young gentleman that I was sure they would have Mike organizing the file cabinets in the teachers lounge by now, but if he says, I'm proud of my buddy. He's doing good things.

Ok, enough blubbering about Mike. He still hits a wicked slice on he golf course, and he used to tackle like Dieone Sanders when we played football in the backyard of Dave Mcavoys house. I'll finish this up next time. I got to run to the poker room in a few minutes.

Codsey out.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Hot and Dry Day

The greens had mowed easily this morning. It had been rather hot and dry the last few days and this meant slow growing grass in Northern New York. Slow growing grass meant that, as the operator of the machine, I did not have to constantly get on and off the greens mower in order to empty its' grass catching baskets. This meant it was more like a leisurely drive in the country rather than a day at work. I was happy with things as I pulled the mower down past the club house of the golf course, and towards the garage where we washed off the machinery.

As I sprayed the mowers off, patiently spinning the middle reel of three on the delicate machine, I heard another tractor coming towards the garage. It was my cousin Andy on the large, eight cylinder fairway mower. It was nearing noon and he was coming in for lunch. Our other two cousins, Raymond and Merrill, would soon follow.

As Andy turned off the roaring engine of the massive fairway mower I looked up at him, nodded, and gave him a nonchalant "What's up?"

Andy and I are a few years apart, and therefore not all that close. I mean, he is certainly my family, and we worked together, and we grew up playing football and baseball in our grandmother's back yard, but we were not very close on a personal level. Andy is five years my younger, and we run in different crowds. I'm twenty six and recently divorced, and Andy had turned twenty one six months before. He was out with his friends every night and it led to some late arrivals for him at work in the morning. We had argued about that fact in the past.

"Nuthin." Andy replied. He looked up at me and asked nicely "You goin' to wing night at the Corner?"

The Corner was a local bar and grill that my cousins and I frequented. The owner, Hairbag, was a burly, hard drinker who liked to play golf. His buffalo style wings were some of the best around and the dollar drafts too easily hit the spot.

"Maybe, but if I do I'm going to kick your ass in darts cause, you suck..." I Pause and wait for him to look over. When he looks at me I add " shafts and balls." with a smirk on my face that turned to laughter.

"Fuck that!!" He quickly shot back. "You know you can't throw straight after about three beers!" Andy had that thick Northern New York accent that sounds like it wants to be Canandien, but it's too much like Wisconsin for the Canadiens to allow it.

I looked up from the mower I was continuing to spray water on and chuckled at Andy's remark. It was true, I was not a big drinker. He could certainly drink me directly under any table. Of course, it wasn't ever a fair competition because Andy practiced at it a lot harder than I did. I would need a drinking handicap adjustment, like one drink less per hour or something.

"Hey, jackass, how come your car ain't parked in gram's garage anymore?" I asked.

"I made a payment on it. Repo guys won't be lookin'f for it now." Andy answered while digging his fingers deep into a Skoal can to gather a huge pinch of the minty, nicotine princess. We all chewed skoal, or snuff as gram called it, and it was a nasty addiction.

"Bout fuckin time". I growled and went back to my spraying the mower to get it clean of any grass clippings.

Andy, for whatever reason, had decided that making payments on a new car was completely optional. He had purchased a new Dodge Stealth and as far as I knew had not made a payment, apparently until now. He had been parking the car in my grandmother's garage during the day in an effort to hide it from supposed repo men who had been perusing the area. I had seen none. At least he finally made a payment. What a dip-shit he was becoming.

Of course, I had no room to talk, and I knew it, which is probably the reason that I never said anything to Andy. How could I judge? I certainly wasn't doing a very good job of running my own life. My wife and I had divorced the summer before and I felt miserable, all of the time. I had no idea what direction I wanted my life to take and I was sort of hiding out at my grandparents golf course. I was making enough to live on, and making enough to have fun at night with, but I was going no where. Something was missing. There had to be a calling that I could grab onto and make my own.

I finished washing the greens mower and parked it inside the garage. It would most likely not be used for another few days, unless we got some rain. I wiped off my hands and looked out, over the golf course. From the garage I could see the ninth green, slightly elevated from the ground around it. It had four cedar trees behind it and two mounds on either side of the front of it. These were the bunkers, or sand traps, and they would be my afternoon job. Each one on the golf course had to be raked, by hand.

I could see my other cousins, off on the distance, all driving their mowers towards the garage. It was lunch time and no one missed gram's lunch. She is one of the best cooks I know, and her food never failed to satisfy the pallate and at the same time fill the stomach. I walked quickly towards the clubhouse.

After washing up I sat down to the table as the food was being brought from the kitchen. Gram had made a bowl full of hamburgers covered in a sort of an Hungarian-Italian, sloppy joe mixture. The key to the dish is the hamburgers soaking all day in the sauce. All I can say is they are the best tasting burgers you will ever have.

Gram was placing the bowl on the table as she asked "What are you guys working on this afternoon?"

We all started to list off the jobs we intended on doing but she stopped us and said..

"I want that lane cleared, today, you've been putting it off for a week."

Gram was right. We had started clearing the brush from a lane of trees that ran the length of the ninth hole. It was full of bushes and small saplings, and we meant to get rid of them all. Of course, other things had popped up and we had only finished half of it to that point.

"Got it. We'll all work on that." I replied quickly. No need discussing it, let's eat.

A customer walked in at that moment. Gram turned to go take care of him and I and my cousins began to dig in on the burgers.

"Ric, you going to the Corner for wing night?" My cousin Merrill had asked.

"I think so. You gonna pound 6 shots of Yukon again? And then stumble around the place and babble about how you can shoot pool better than everyone else? And then piss someone off and get punched out? Cause if you are, then I will most definitely be there."

I was laughing at myself pretty hard. Merrill had done just that earlier in the summer and had come to work the next day with a black eye and swollen left side of his face. Apparently his attacker had had a good punch.

"Hairbag needs to keep those assholes out of there". Merrill replied, slowly allowing the words leave his mouth as though it were an effort to get them out. He still did not believe he did anything to instigate the punch-out.

"I heard YOU were being the asshole and that you had hit on that dude's chick, and that was why he tried to cave in yer face. You looked good the next day though, seriously, it was an improvement. I mean, two days later was the best! Ya know, when yer face started to turn from purple to like a greenish-yellow mass. You were a pretty one!"

I was laughing pretty hard now, and Merrill was chuckling a little bit too. Andy was looking out of the clubhouse window and said out loud "Oh Shit!"

I looked out and there was a tow truck coming down the driveway and it was headed for Andy's new Stealth.

"I paid!! I paid!!" was what he was yelling as he flew out of the door, running towards the parking lot.

"Come on!" I told Merrill.

Merrill followed out of the other door of the clubhouse, out to where the golf carts were parked.

"Jump on one! Block them in!!" I yelled.

The truck was already in front of Andy's car and would be loading it on the flat bed in a matter of minutes. Our only chance was to block the truck in, not allowing it to leave, and hopefully giving Andy a chance to prove he had paid something on this stupid-assed car of his.

Why on earth I had a sudden urge to stop this man from taking Andy's car I will never know. Maybe it was some sort of primal urge to protect family members from danger. Or, maybe it was because I was itching to start something, with someone. I was pissed at the world and here was something to take action on. This was something to do!

Merrill and I each hopped on a different cart and tore ass for the parking lot. I parked behind the tow truck, and Merrill parked in front it. The car was loaded by this time, but the truck could not move. At least not without driving over one of the golf carts. We had him boxed in.

I momentarily thought that is just what the repo man was going to do as he began to move his truck towards Merrill's cart. Merrill hopped out and waited for the truck driver to hit the cart. The truck stopped. The man climbed back out of his truck.

The truck was running, and the man and Andy were on the other side of it so I could not hear what was being said. Apparently, Andy was getting the ok to climb into his car to get the papers that would reveal he had paid something on the car.

I sat there on my golf cart, behind the tow truck, and wondered to myself if this looked utterly ridiculous to an outsider. I was wondering if this would make for a good COPS episode on FOX. I was also wondering if we were like the people who make it on the show, COPS. God, what was my life becoming?

Andy was getting back out of his car, showing the man a tri-folded piece of paper. The tow truck driver shook his head side to side. Andy told Merrill to move the cart and let the man take the car.

I just sat there, dumbfounded and pissed off. My adrenaline was pumping and I was angry we had lost. I wanted so badly to grab the tow truck guy and just beat him down, telling him this is what happens when you mess with our family.

Instead, he just gave me a wink and a wave as he drove out of the driveway. The nice, clean, new, hunter green Stealth rolled away on the back of a flatbed truck.

I looked at Andy, and walked over to him. he was just standing there watching his car go over the hill and down the road. I grabbed the paper in his hand and opened it. It was a coupon page for a Jreck Sub shop located in our hometown.

"Are you kidding me?!?! What is this?" I asked him loudly and directly. I was angry, and wanted to take it out on someone. How could he let us risk whatever poor future any of us held by pretending to have paid the back payments on the car?

"I lied, I never made a single payment on that car." Andy said

"What?!?!? You haven't made any payments?" Merrill sort of yelled to him.

"Nope." Andy replied and started walking away.

Merrill and I were just standing there watching Andy stroll away.

"Can you believe this shit?" Merrill asked me.

"Yes." I paused for a moment. "Man, he's a piece of work."

I jumped back on the golf cart nearest to me and slammed the accelerator, simultaneously pulling the steering wheel hard to the left. I was doing a donut on the gravely parking lot, flinging stones behind me and to the right.

I slammed on the break, and in a cloud of dust said "You goin' to wing night?"

"Hell yes!!! Hairbag will never believe this one!!" Merrill yelled as he jumped on his cart and accelerated away. The dust was flying, Andy was moping, and all in all, I felt pretty damn good.

Now, back to those burgers......