By Greg Price
Some much needed R&R down in Arizona and Montana for the Family Day week and of course with it, my usual observations on the human condition.
From discount airlines, to Republican primaries to my libation-aided golf swing, it was once again time off that strengthened family bonds while at the same time offered plenty of casual insight into the human condition
FRIENDLY SKIES: I booked my flight from Great Falls, Montana to Mesa, Arizona on discount airfare airline Allegiant.
For the most part I’ve been quite pleased with the airline, although the hidden costs like other airlines is what annoys me. I’m thinking an airline’s random seat assignor, with its computer program when you print off your boarding pass within 24 hours of your flight, is not so random with my conspiracy theories.
Both flying to Arizona and back to Montana I had a middle seat assigned to me despite having options elsewhere on the seating chart of aisle and window seats. Of course, if I tried to switch there is the ‘preferred seating’ extra on the tab. Perhaps Allegiant thinks passengers have some masochistic outlook on life being wedged between the guy with the aroma of BO and too much AXE body spray and the woman smacking her gum like its the last bit of sustenance she is ever going to enjoy in life…but I doubt it. Well played Allegiant…well played.
Also Antsy Annie showed up once again at the airport terminal and I still have no idea why she/he exists. Why are people so anxious to be one of the first ones to board a plane? It’s not like it’s going to leave any sooner just because you are on it. Everyone has to be seated before the plane takes off, yet there is the person trying to board the plane despite the worker at the gate calling up other sections of the plane first…happens every time I’ve traveled. I would rather wait as long as possible in the cushy and wide open seating of an airport lobby, than hurry onto a packed plane. My case had me standing behind someone in line, only they were not moving. After a couple of minutes of myself and the people behind me wondering what was going on, the woman turned to us as noted, ‘Oh, I’m just waiting here until I’m called.’
SWING OF THINGS: I seriously need to start pitching an idea to a beer company of how their product can improve your weekend hacker’s game on the golf course. Picture it; the guy with the camo shorts and mismatched T-shirt with the requisite keg instead of a six-pack for a stomach, hitting ball after ball into the water or out of bounds. If not hitting the ball from the rough, it is like a scene out of Baywatch with how often the golfer is in the sand, when he is not missing his three or four-foot putts to save himself a quadruple bogey. But then salvation comes, in the form of the beer-cart girl, where after ordering your libation of choice, it’s long majestic drives off the tee box, hit and stick chips that read the greens perfectly and sinking those 12-15 foot birdie putts with aplomb as opposed to your regular three putt after hitting your first putt too far. That guy that looks like he should be entering a hot-dog eating contest, after taking a swig of the showcased beer, transforms into the physique of Jordan Spieth or Rory McIlroy, jarring a hole-in-one. I do not know what it is, but I know I certainly tend to golf better after downing a couple of cold ones.
I shot eight strokes better on the back nine in my first round and four strokes better on the back nine in my second round.
Maybe it loosens you up where you are not thinking as much in a game of golf that is known for its mind games. All I know is I broke 100 with a 97 and can’t remember when the last time when I did that. Before you laugh at that number, it is estimated less than 25 to 30 per cent of golfers ever break that mark. This round of golf brought to you by Bud Light (or a few holes later…Miller Genuine Draft).
WIDE WORLD OF SPORTS: Got to see up front and personal what is all the rage in retirement, gated communities in the U.S. with pickleball, a sport that combines the feel of tennis, badminton and table tennis. The Sports and Fitness Industry Association reports there are roughly 2.46 million pickleball players in the world, with 250,000 of them in North America, making for one of the fastest growing sports in the area. Played on a court that measures 20×44 feet, I know if I had played I would have caused some injuries or at the very least some dirty glares and shouts to never to come back again from my elders. There is a non-volley zone called ‘The Kitchen’ by the net. Given my experience in playing tennis in which I would like to use my tall frame to rush the net and pound down balls near the net, factoring the rules of pickleball, my unsanctioned forays into ‘The Kitchen’ would likely turn the whole court into ‘The Infirmary.’
I was also able to take in a couple of games of my uncle’s seniors slo-pitch team. It was some quality ball with some solid hits and flashes of leather with the glove. Unfortunately, I had caught my uncle in a bit of a slump with the bat where he couldn’t buy a hit heading into the first game I watched. His struggles continued up until his last at-bat in the game where he was still 0-fer at the time. He talked to me behind the backstop saying he’d dedicate his upcoming hit to sick Little Timmy in the hospital. Word is Little Timmy’s spirits were lifted after my Uncle John’s at bat…but only because he didn’t understand the rules of slo-pitch….an infielder’s choice does not count as a hit. All joking aside, my uncle would end his slump in the second game, spraying hits all over the outfield.
While the competitive spirit is still very much alive in my uncle who is in his senior years, those advanced years have mellowed some. I watched as someone on the opposite team grounded out meekly to the shortstop in which he shouted ‘oh sugar.’ I know I would have screamed something not so sweet.
POLITICAL LOVE AFFAIR: I was both enthralled and disgusted at the same time, as there was little relief on the American TV stations from around-the-clock coverage of the Republican primaries to see who will represent the party as a presidential candidate. Given such a crowded field, debates resembled more junior high in tone rather than the nobility that should be required for the highest office in the world. You got Cotton Candy Hair (Donald Trump) trading barbs with the Pope, trying his hardest to claim he is Christian while doing actions that are very un-Christian like. Then you got the Eddie Munster stand in (Ted Cruz) caught campaigning with an obviously photoshopped picture of opponent Marco Rubio, where his head is attached to a suit, tie and watch he does not possess, shaking hands with his less dominant hand (left), with a Barrack Obama who doesn’t appear to be directly looking at him. Mix in calls to Iowa voters that Ben Carson had dropped out (he hadn’t), and phony Facebook pages and you got a guy where you would wonder if you could trust him to take out your trash, let alone run a country.
It made me feel sorry for a guy named Jeb Bush (not only sorry that his parents felt the inclination to name their child Jeb, but also his campaign). He seemed to be only one of two candidates I could see that seemed to handle his campaign and debates with class, restraint and dignity….unfortunately that doesn’t seem to resonant with voters as he suspended his campaign after some distant finishes among Republican candidates.
FAMILY FIRST: Yes I’ve enjoyed my vacations laying on sandy beaches, sipping drinks in Mexico, seen the sites of what Germany, the Netherlands and France have to offer, but it is these family trips that keep me grounded.
Something as simple as good food and drink at a dinner table coupled with conversation that is just as good is nourishing to the soul.
Whether a short road trip with friends or a week or so with friends…those are the trips that strengthen the bonds that helped shape you into the person you are in the every day.
No, I haven’t be lucky enough to find The One with a family to call my own, but it’s trips like these where I’m reminded over and over again how blessed I am to have loving family and friends.