Sunday, May 08, 2005

Uncle Sam

My Uncle Sam is a character. Actually, he's the third in a series of characters that begins with my father the world-famous square dance caller, continues past my Uncle Mac the published author/painter/horticulturist/flute-playing Indian expert, and finally settles on Sam the Master Chief Bosun's Mate (Ret.)

One of the quality's that I have always loved about Sam is that he seems to have his own sense of "self" perfectly figured out. He's happy with it, comfortable in it, and consequently puts other people at ease when he's around them. It wears off on you, this feeling of, "I'm cool and so are you." Billy Crystal once said that the class clown is the guy that runs around the room with clothespins on his nipples. The class comedian is the guy who put him up to it. Sam is the class comedian. Once, when we were on a family reunion vacation at the beach, Sam told all the kids that there would be games and prizes all weekend involving Bozo the Clown (no relation). He then told them that my Dad was Bozo and for the rest of the weekend, at random intervals, my father would be the subject of games like "Tackle Bozo" and "Steal Bozo's Pants." My personal favorite was when he tried to convince Bozo to go out in the ocean up to his neck so that the kids could try to skip rocks into his mouth (first one in gets gum!)

Sam likes to play golf, and he likes to drink. He especially likes to drink while playing golf and has developed his game to the point that he's the only person I have ever met who gets better as he gets drunker. He may not be able to stand up but he'll damn sure snake a twelve-footer on 18 to screw your ass.

He used to play on a course in Norfolk ( anyone who knows the Navy doesn't need to be told what state ). The course didn't allow alcohol. There was, however, no rule about motor oil so Sam took a Quaker State bottle one day, sterilized it, and filled it with vodka. From that point on it went in the cart with him every week. That's the kind of guy he is. When he first told me this story, I didn't even think to ask him, "Why the hell would you use an oil bottle?" You just let stuff like that go.

One day, the Ranger drove up next to Sam and noticed the Quaker State bottle.

"Whatcha got that oil for?" He asked.
"Well," said Sam, "One day I was out here playing golf... way out on the back nine...and my cart broke down. I had to walk all the way back to the clubhouse. I found out later that the damn thing just need a little oil. So, now I carry a bottle with me just in case it happens again."

The Ranger nodded and rode off. Sam continued his game.

A few holes later, the Ranger came back. "These are electric carts."

You see, you have to appreciate the beauty of it. It's one thing to tell a lie so that you can have a drink on the golf course, it's another thing entirely to tell an impossible lie. You might as well say, "I have so little regard for you and your rules that I can't even be bothered to think up a good lie when I get caught breaking them." But at the same time, it's so damn clever that it makes you seem like a frigging Algonquin wit..... a regular Oscar Wilde of the Links.

I don't have a single story like that. I wish I did.


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