I was drunk, naked, and teeing off on the 16th hole of a public golf course. Or maybe it was the 15th. Fuck if I remember.
It was supposed to be a relaxing afternoon. Play some golf, smoke some fat cigars, enjoy a few cocktails. But there had been a serious oversight in our preparations: loading the golf cart, we suddenly realized we had brought plenty of booze but had forgotten the mixers. So we dumped the gin and vodka in a large jug, added a couple of bottles of wine and a few beers, and loaded up the concoction. Surprisingly, it genuinely tasted good.
To be honest, our golf was ugly before we even started drinking, I had never been on a golf course before, but after years of visiting a local driving range and listening to my buddies bore me to tears with their war stories, I was more than ready to try.
On the very first hole, I got a huge boost of confidence watching my friends tee off. Veej sliced into the woods. Mute hit the ball all of 50 feet. San made some godawful shot. I started laughing. These were the guys I had listened to debate steel vs. titanium? Proper body posture and swing angle? I could play with these guys. I got up, hit the ball a ton and hooked it out of sight.
The jug quickly found its way into our game. Worst tee-off shot drinks. Hits off the fairway drink. Worst hole score drinks. And so on. Considering our talent level, plus the fact we were all drinking anyway (as I said, it really did taste good), we were all pretty hammered by the time we hit the back nine.
And then it hit me—a powerful recollection. About Harpo Marx. I had read his autobiography as a teenager, and it had made a deep impression. I admired the wealth of diverse experiences he had accumulated in his lifetime, everything from smuggling secret papers out of Russia to playing piano in a whorehouse. But the experience that stood out most in my mind was the day Harpo spent trying to become the first naked man to hit a hole in one. The die was cast. I had to pay homage to my childhood hero.
I can’t say that my companions were likewise inspired by the desire to pay tribute to Mr. Marx, but they found this opportunity to make history appealing. So we all took our shot at immortality.
I don’t remember too much after that. I have a dim memory of falling off a golf cart and watching Veej drive it into a sand trap, but that’s about it. I do have a picture of myself that my friends took shortly thereafter, featuring myself passed out in the parking lot. They were also kind enough to inform me that as soon as we got home I vomited on the neighbor’s lawn, an elderly gentleman that had visited us on several occasions to complain about the noise.
The epilog to the story came a few months later, at a Christmas party in New York. My golf partners that day were part of my Vermont crowd, a group of about 20-30 friends and ne’er-do-wells that had shared a ski house together for years. I hadn’t seen the gang in some time and I was looking forward to seeing everyone and introducing them to my new girlfriend.
We got a big greeting when we came in, and I thought I detected some unusually big smiles coming my way though I didn’t think anything of it at the time. Eventually, Elizabeth excused herself, and when I saw her again she had a peculiar expression on her face. All she said was, “I think you ought to check out the bathroom.”
Puzzled, I went in, and there on the bathroom mirror was an 8 x 10-inch photo of me mid-swing, in all my naked glory. Well, almost all my glory. My friends had thoughtfully put a piece of yellow sticky pad note over my private parts.
When you can’t deny it, you may as well brag about it. After all, we were not merely drunken yahoos, a disgrace to decent society that should have been arrested for public drunkenness, indecent exposure, and not replacing golf-cart-size divots. No. We were courageous, heroic pioneers, men whose love of the game led them to bravely attempt a famous first that would have been celebrated from Pebble Beach to Augusta.
That’s my story. Liz loved it, and I’m sticking to it.