Mike Says 20

Good evening fellow travelers, at least its evening where I am, and as I look out over Winsome Valley (as in win some- lose some) from high atop the Fools Mansion, I’m thinking what a long strange trip it’s been. And having thought that, I now realize that I have absolutely nothing to say this week. No clever words about life or love, no tawdry tales about past indiscretions, and no painting tips. I know what you’re thinking — “oh my god Mikewriters block!! not you!!” No not me, because if there’s one thing people in my family can do it’s talk, and having nothing to say never stopped any one of us. So here goes –lots of unconnected stuff that may or may not come to a logical conclusion……..Believe it or not, years ago Stacey and I started playing golf when we weren’t touring. Stacey is without a doubt the worst golfer I’ve ever seen. He swings hard but the ball never gets higher than about a foot off the ground. I, on the other hand, am a natural. Not that I get better scores than him, it’s just that I look better doing it. People watch me swing and automatically look far down the course expecting to see the ball. The ball however will usually be heading off at a right angle hunting out some poor bastard on another hole. It’s not uncommon for me to be aiming for, let’s say the green on the 3rd hole, and have the ball go sideways and end up near the flag on an adjacent hole. My rule of thumb is then to try and make the putt (even if it’s the wrong hole) apologize, and head back where I came from. This ‘random hole’ type of play invariably leads to arguments and of course makes scorekeeping a nightmare but Stacey has his ways of keeping the match close. He’ll wait till I’m in the tall grass, and halfway thru my swing he’ll yell “snake!!” while pointing near my feet. He finds this very amusing and I must admit it does keep me on my toes. At some point when we’ve had enough (of either golf or the beer we’ve smuggled in) we play ‘last shot.’ The guy who’s losing gets to pick out some natural or man made thing (a tree or rock in the distance–once a house across the street) and whoever comes the closest with one shot wins the match. We find that this gives some meaning to the essentially pointless game of golf. It doesn’t matter who’s ahead; it’s all or nothing on one last shot. It seems to bring out the best in us and we’ve both made some historic (in our world) last shots. Stacey once hit a trash can from about 65 yards to win a game. My best last shot was bouncing it off the party tent near the 18th hole. These are the kind of sporting moments that ease your way into a good nights sleep on a summer night……………………………………….About 2 years ago Rich and I were in , of all places, Finland, To be precise Oulu Finland. Check the map, it’s way the hell up there, about 20 miles from the Arctic Circle. We were there for the ‘Air Guitar World Championship.’ You never heard of it either, huh? Well obviously some have because people come from all over the world (that year New Zealand was the farthest entry) to get up on a stage and do their best air guitar version of some classic rock song. We were there representing a company we used to work for called Music Playground (check the links page). First a word about the Fins. They are, without a doubt, the hardest partying people I’ve ever encountered. I’ve partied with some of the craziest rock bands in the world (in the 80’s for christsake!! check the bio page) and the Fins would have left us all in a ditch crying for a taxi. Their secret is they don’t do it every day, just on weekends. We learned this the hard way on a Thursday night trying to find a bar with more than 2 people in it. But come the weekend and lookout, these people party like they’ve got 3 days to live and the bars don’t close till sunrise! I had the great pleasure (if you understand my sick mind) of watching Rich fend off the attentions of a very drunk woman who just wanted to touch his hair. I’m not kidding you, I would put up the Fins (partying-wise) against any of the party mad peoples of the planet,… yes even the Aussies!!! But that’s not my biggest memory of my 5 days in Finland. We went out to eat one night (8 of us, All-American males) to a restaurant that claimed to have all the local fare. In Finland that means meat! Elk, bear, bobcat, if it’s meat the Fins shoot it, drag it in, cook it and eat it. We went to a store that had whale meat in a can! Where I live I could get picketed just for telling this story! If it’s meat– these people eat it. The restaurant had some local favorites like bear pot stew (I think Rich had that) and roasted grouse which I had (tasted like chicken) but the most exotic thing on the menu was, and I’m not kidding this is what the English translation called it–‘reindeer testicles with blue veined cheese. When we read it we quickly assumed that this was one of those phony items that they list to scare tourists. But when we noticed that our waitress wasn’t laughing we began to feel challenged by this item. Okay it sounded gross but then again we weren’t in Burlington, Vermont and maybe we would never have another chance to try it if we didn’t get it there. Not only that but we were Americans goddammit and they couldn’t serve us anything we couldn’t eat! So, trying not to feel too self-conscious, we ordered up a plate of those babies only to find that the restaurant was fresh out. I don’t think I was the only one to breathe a ‘thank god’ sigh of relief. But if those balls came (pardon that terminology) I would have tried ’em. Because what is life really but experience,— aint that the fun of it, whether you’re getting ready to eat a ball or whack one around a golf course (damn!!…I knew I would tie these two stories together) it’s all in the journey not the arrival. Till next week bon voyage and adios amigos…Mike

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