Friday, July 24, 2009

Another Wedding Video

My niece was recently engaged to be married. At first, she and her fiance were going to be married in a Utah temple and then have two receptions -- one with her Dad's side of the family in Utah and one with her Mom's side of the family in California. So far, so good (except for the fact that she's only 19 years old, and it's no longer 1947).

Then the plans changed, so the reception and wedding were going to take place at the same time in California. My ex-brother-in law, Kirk, insisted on inviting his second wife's extended family to the wedding, but Shari wasn't too keen on that idea. She would likely get stuck paying for the whole shebang since Kirk owes more money to more people than Lenny Dykstra and Bernie Madoff combined.

Kirk probably said that (A) he's good for it, and (B) they should just have a pot luck dinner in which everyone brings potato salad and Jello and meat products. Kind of like at his first wedding, the one in Bluebell, Utah. (My favorite dessert at that wedding was animal crackers.) I'm just guessing. I have no idea what happened.

Anyway, if the wedding had taken place, there would have been underlying hostility, which goes against the very idea of a wedding. You know, where the community gathers to celebrate a couple's commitment to each other.

Like this wedding:

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Old Man and the Putter

Tom Watson will turn 60 next month, yet he led the British Open -- one of the four majors -- going in to the final hole. All he needed was a par to win. When Jack Nicklaus won the Masters at the old age of 46, people went nuts about how the old man turned back the clock, sent a message to the younsters, etc. Watson was 14 years older than Nicklaus. A 60-year-old is old enough to be a 46-year-old's father, especially back in the 1940s, when birth control was managed with lunar cycles and cod liver oil.

We were watching history unfold.

After making a birdie on the 17th hole, Watson simply needed to par the 18th hole to win the British Open. Of course, the 25 mph winds weren't making it easy. The old man stepped up and drilled the drive right down the middle of the fairway. If he could knock the second shot over the sand traps and onto the green, he'd win, causing the likes of Rick Reilly to wax profound. Watson's victory would join the pantheon of great Cinderella sporting events -- Buster Douglas knocking out Mike Tyson, Bobby Thompson's Shot Heard Round the World, Villanova's win over Georgetown, Seabiscuit.

Watson addressed the ball, still refusing to look nervous. He swung smoothly. The camera focused on his reaction. He smiled, nodded his head, and seemed to tear up a bit, as if he'd come through in hitting the perfect shot. I pumped my fist. The camera then showed the ball landing on the green just past the deep sand traps. The ball hit hard, lurched forward and rolled toward the pin. It looked good. And then it rolled slowly past the pin, and just kept rolling slowly, slowly, Titleist 3, Titleist 3, until it rolled off the green and down a steep hill.

Instead of having an easy two-putt par for the victory, Watson now had to make a difficult up-and-down. I was surprised the announcers didn't make a bigger deal of Watson having to make the transition from thinking he had hit a perfect shot to getting out of trouble.

It reminded me of a tennis tournament I watched 15 or so years ago between Andre Agassi and Boris Becker. Agassi, at the peak of his "Image is everything" phase, was rolling along, up a set and a break. He said something playful to the crowd, and people laughed. Then Becker did something brilliant and brutal. He laughed sarcastically and glared at Agassi. When the camera showed Agassi getting ready to serve, he looked ashamed, as if an older kid had just stolen his A-Team lunch box during recess. (Not that I'm still bitter about my A-Team lunch box being stolen. That has nothing to do with this. I don't even miss my A-Team lunch box.) Anyway, Agassi was never the same. Becker broke back, won the set, and then won the next two sets. The announcers, of course, failed to mention why the momentum switched. But I knew. And if I hadn't been watching the tennis match alone, anyone else in the room would have known, too.

With Watson's beautifully struck shot that bizarrely ended up in danger, I don't know if that made him fall apart. I think it did. In my mind, he never recovered from thinking he'd hit the winning shot. After that, he used his putter to chip it 8 feet passed the hole, and then his old man hands faltered badly on the 8-foot putt. He never had a chance in the 4-hole playoff against a guy who will be known forever as The Evil Stewart Cink.

What a sad loss. It proved that old people just can't do things as well as young people.


Friday, July 10, 2009

There Is Forgiveness in my Heart

My friend Dug has been waxing eloquently of late. Even though his prose is overwrought, his heart seems to be in the right place.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

When a Friend Gets Awkward

I don't know if you're like this, but there are times when a friend, someone I've known for years and years, surprises me with odd behavior. In the last year, I've been disappointed a couple of times, causing me to re-evaluate my perception of a friend. Most recently, this happened with Dug.

Dug is supposed to be a crank. We all know that and accept that. If you make a bad joke or use a word incorrectly, he calls you on it. Because he's a crank.

He acts like he doesn't care about anyone or anything. If anyone else acted that way, you'd back off, but with Dug, it's different. You know, deep down, that it's a facade. Dug is a good soul. He just never shows it.

Until now.

Dug just recently posted a blog entry that made me feel uncomfortable. It's just too much information. I don't want to see that kind of emotion expressed, especially from someone who gets so much mileage out of being cranky.

I don't know what to think of Dug anymore.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Camping Seattle Style

Back when I lived in Provo, I missed camping. These were the days before kayaking and mountain biking trips, so I wasn't getting my fill of the outdoors. So I tried convincing some friends to go camping with me. I lived in the same apartment complex with several friends, kind of like a Melrose Place situation (in fact, it was exactly like Melrose Place), and I thought the smartest thing to do would be to organize everything. I planned the meals and got the tarps and tents and all that. It was a huge hassle. Despite my efforts, the people complained. "Don't you have a warmer sleeping bag? I was freezing last night!"

The next summer, I took the opposite approach. I told a few people that I was going camping, and if anyone wanted to come along, my pickup truck was leaving at 5:30 pm sharp. But you have to get your own gear, and make your own meals, and if you can't fit in the back of the truck, you have to find your own ride. As you can guess, that approach worked great, and Friday camping turned into a tradition. We just drove a little ways up the canyon on a Friday afternoon and set up our tents. In fact, talking about this reminded me of something I hadn't thought about in years.

I had a sling shot -- a wrist rocket -- that helped me menace small animals and trees. I never hit any squirrels, but I did nab a few trees, the bigger and less darty ones. And then one day, a herd of deer wandered near our camp site. I took careful aim -- Say hello to my little friend -- and wham!. I shot a deer in the butt. The deer reacted cartoonishly, jumping about 15 feet straight up in the air and then, when it finally landed, bolted off into the woods, unharmed but humiliated.

Camping in Seattle isn't as easy as camping in Provo. For one thing, in order to get the same kind of campground here in Seattle, we had to drive about 100 miles and pay Motel 6 rates to set up camp near Roslyn, the little town where Northern Exposure was filmed. For another thing, I couldn't just tell everyone they're on their own. We had to find gear for the boys, as well as for Kim and Bethany, my sister-in-law and niece.

Bethany's sleeping bag was too cold. I have mixed feelings about this. Back when we lived in Indiana, Bethany needed to borrow one of our sleeping bags for some kind of girl scout outing, so I loaned her my black zero-degree Kelty bag, which I had bought for climbing glaciers in Washington. When Bethany returned my sleeping bag to me, it was green instead of black. I asked her what happened to my bag, and I got an odd, befuddling story that teenagers are wont to tell. It put me in that awkward situation where I had to decide between letting it go or making a big deal of it, so I let it go. And now, after shivering all night long in the green sleeping bag, Bethany wishes that I had made a big deal of it. Like rain on your wedding day, it's ironic.

And here's another element of irony. In order to "relax" for a few days of camping, you have to spend roughly half the amount of time (0.5x) bustling to get ready to camp. In other words, a 72-hour camp trip requires 36 hours of preparatory bustling.

Lake Cooper is stunningly beautiful, however, and the relaxing is therapeutic. All that relaxation goes away quickly when the boys need to get ready for bed. Luke and Max wore shorts, t-shirts, and sandals, they "helped" with the fire, and what food they didn't eat still managed to touch a part of their body. To use understatement, they were dirty. To use mild hyperbole, if they showed up for a scene in a movie based on a Dickens novel, they'd be sent back to the make-up room because "people don't get that dirty working in a coal mine."

Having been pulled out of my reverie, I was in a grouchy mood, so I set up an assembly line. I had the boys strip down and stand on the picnic table, and then I washed them down with a bucket of water that very quickly started looking like that sludge coffee from Saving Private Ryan. Max started crying and demanding a band-aid because I rubbed one of his owies, but I would have none of it. After I got on their jammies in the dark, I pulled out their toothbrushes and smeared on toothpaste. While I bustled elsewhere, I told them to brush their teeth. They started brushing, and then looked at each other.

"This doesn't taste right."

"This tastes bitter."

"Yeah, this tastes bitter."

I reached into the plastic bag and realized I had grabbed the wrong tube.

"Of course it tastes bad. That's shampoo. Now give me your brushes and let's do it right this time!"

Zen and the art of camping.