Monday, March 14, 2005

You had to be there...

Yesterday our weather was gorgeous, if a little on the warm side. Bright sunshine, no clouds, and a gentle southwesterly breeze that nudged the mercury up to 90. Excellent golf weather.

Walking the golf course is about the only exercise I get on a regular basis. My wife Carol and I used to pull little carts around with our clubs on them, but then we learned about remote-controlled, motorized “caddies.”

We get a lot of stares and pointed fingers as we stroll down the fairway (or in my case, through the rough and into the woods) with our carts rolling merrily along in front of us just out of reach. Someone always has to yell, “RUNAWAY CART!” and thinks he’s hilarious. It was cute the first 200-300 times we heard it, but now...

Well, yesterday we had teed off on number 12 and started down the fairway in pursuit of our shots. That hole has a wide pond all along the right side of the fairway, and like the other ponds in our area, this one is the abode of probably hundreds of water turtles. Some of these get quite large, but they usually stay right by the waters edge and slide into the muddy depths if anyone gets closer than about 15 yards.

Yesterday was different. Marching across the fairway towards the pond was a dark turtle (tortoise?) whose shell was at least a foot in diameter. He/she was likely migrating to this pond from another water hazard two or three fairways over. Then we noticed a smaller (about 5 inches in diameter) turtle following 15-20 feet behind the larger one.

How cute! A mass migration! Mother and child? Carol watched as I walked up to the smaller one. As expected, it sucked its head and legs into its shell and waited for me to go away. I stood for just a few seconds while Carol watched, and then started off again.

That’s when you had to be there. Carol screamed as her cart, which had been trekking ahead in the direction last assigned before we were distracted by the turtles, plunged over the edge and down into the pond.

Torn between horror and laughter, I jogged to the pond while she sprinted. The bank dropped off sharply and the cart and bag were out of reach.

Carol peeled off shoes and socks and stepped in. “Ewww. It’s slimy on the bottom.” It was all I could do to keep a straight face.

She snagged the handle of the cart and pulled toward shore. It barely moved. It occurred to me that the cart, 24 pound battery and full golf bag (clubs, balls, and lots of “accessories”) must weigh at least 75 pounds. And at this point the bag was full of water and strapped to the cart, which was settling on its side into the slimy mud.

I refused to look around at other golfers on the course, who just HAD to be rolling on the grass holding their sides in laughter. Together we were able to drag the cart and contents up the bank, with mud and water pouring our of every joint and crevice. Not quite like “Raise the Titanic,” but reminiscent.

Carol kept it together pretty well, but I sensed that just under the surface was a “mad as a wet hen” lady. Needless to say, our golf was finished for the day.

The only serious casualties were her cell phone (which may still dry out and function, although at this point its baptism was thorough enough that it may need resurrection) and her wristwatch, which is somewhere in the mud at the bottom of the pond. Probably nestled up against one of my errant golf balls, a number of which share that watery grave.

The watch was just a Timex, so no great loss. She has since rinsed off everything and hung or spread it all out to dry.

I’ve managed to continue holding my tongue, but it’s hard. Questions for the next round keep presenting themselves (“Which club did you hit on that shot, your mud iron?”), but if I want to see our 37’th wedding anniversary this August I’d better choke them down. I’m sure we’ll both be laughing about it some day.

But for now, you just had to be there.

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