Yesterday afternoon I arrived back from a very eventful trip to Illinois.
Before you go any further, if you haven't read what was at stake this past weekend, I encourage you to do so.
If you know me however, you know that I've been concerned about this trip because I was expected to play golf with my future father-in-law and many of his family and friends. When informed of the trip by my fiance, I started to try and practice for the two months leading up to the excursion so I wouldn't make a complete fool of myself.
Enough introduction. On to the story.
We had intended to get on the road around 5 PM so we could get a jump on what is a pretty lengthy drive. Unfortunately that morning one of the production servers at work suffered a hard drive failure.
You don't really need to know what that means beyond it being very bad. I didn't get out of work until later than intended while trying to deal with the day's issues as a result of this mess, and suffice it to say it was an ill omen to the start of the trip.
When we finally did get on the road, Julie did the driving for the first few hours. This gave me plenty of time to get a clear picture of my impending humiliation.
I took over driving around 10:20 PM. By 10:30 PM I had killed Bambi.
Yes, I managed to hit a deer. We were in the middle of western Pennsylvania (aka "Pennsyltucky") when a family of 5 or so deer decided that the turnpike would be an appropriate place to go foraging.
I jerked the wheel to the left to try and avoid them, but the baby in the bunch took a final leap into the side of the vehicle. This sent the car slightly out of control, and I struggled mightily to get it driving straight again. Shaking, I pulled off to the side of the road, terrified that Julie might have been hurt.
She had never stopped sipping her soda.
Some friendly locals pulled up behind us to inspect the damage and make sure we were okay. The passenger side headlight was demolished, the bumper bent, and the quarter panel on that side nicely crushed. As a bonus what was left of the bumper was covered in deer hair.
Fortuitously the folks that stopped also brought tools with them to cut the bent bumper away from the tire, which amazingly had not been punctured. While this was going on one of them regaled me with great enthusiasm about how many times the baby deer spun around on impact (seven) and how many pieces it was in (many).
After a call to the Turnpike Authority and the insurance company, we were on our way again. Obviously it was decided we should pull off to the next hotel and assess the damage in the morning.
Forty miles later we found one, and I fell asleep, my dreams haunted by headless deer driving Chevy Impalas at me, like Ichabod Crane fleeing hundreds of Headless Horseman.
Thursday was uneventful, being spent finishing the drive and arriving in Kickapoo, Illinois later that evening.
Friday afforded me a chance to spend some time with Julie's dad. The day started out well enough with a trip to the local Riverboat Casino, where I won $100 at the Blackjack table despite a lady doubling down on a hard twelve with the dealer showing a 6 and later staying on an 8 Austin Powers style ("I also like to live dangerously").
So far so good, I thought. My luck is turning around.
In the afternoon we drove to the course I'd be playing so I could hit a bucket or two of balls and get a little practice in.
Three buckets and two blisters later it was pretty clear I was actually regressing. I know my strategy had initially been to hit my 4-iron off the tee, but I was being paired with a fellow who reputedly routinely hit 300 yard drives and shot lightning bolts from his arse, so I figured there was little point since we were playing the best ball off the tee. This turned out to be a huge mistake because my miserable drives on the practice range shook my confidence to the point where I was concerned I would not make it past the ladies' tees.
My father-in-law-to-be tried to offer me some pointers but by the end of the third bucket I was so tired and discombobulated I was averaging about 4 feet per swing.
Julie's brother (Jeff) and his girlfriend arrived on Friday night, so it was decided that the three men (myself, Julie's dad, and her brother) would all play 9 holes on Saturday afternoon to warm up for Sunday's event.
I was very much in favor of this idea after my performance at the practice range, and hoped that I'd be able to straighten some things out.
Things were going reasonably well until about the 4th tee when I smashed a shot about 60 whole yards into some rough on the left of the fairway. Jeff and I were sharing a cart and we rolled up to it. I pulled out an iron, confident that I could impress by getting it out of the rough and toward the green. My irons have been the one reasonably steady part of my game since I started playing a whole 2 months ago.
Jeff pulled the cart up to the right of the ball, about 20 feet or so away. I lined up and took a mighty whack.
Unfortunately I hit it right off the toe of the club, mishitting badly. Jeff threw his hands up in defense. The ball screamed straight right and clunked off the golf cart, taking the front left hubcap with it.
I was pretty much a wreck for the rest of the round, fearful that I had now not only slaughtered a baby deer but almost added my future brother-in-law to the body count.
How many more would have to die for me to get through the bridal shower golf event?
To be continued.