In the beginning of the week, the weather was so gorgeous my golf game was in full swing again. And if you believe I’m actually talking about playing golf, you’d better keep reading.
Before I get to the back story, My game involves looking for graveyard golf balls. It’s my daily ritual to look (I don’t always find).
I was walking Holly along the golf course and was lost in thought about what I’d write about next when I stumbled upon a ball. And there my muse was printed on it (like a fortune cookie, only better) in the form of an insignia of a cow on top of a golf club. The seed to my next story.
So that’s what makes this post about cows. If your wondering how could I possibly do this, you really don’t understand the game very well just yet.
My first instinct when I see a cow that appears to be jumping is to go straight into nursery rhyme mode.
The Cow Jumped Over the Moon: It’s just gibberish, but it brings me back to my daughter’s birth. Our dear friends I’ve known since childhood, sent her a life-size baby cow. It was numbered, dated and named. Isn’t she adorable?
At the time, I never looked up anything on the internet about the cow. We weren’t in the babit of doing that like we are today. And do I feel stupid now. Turns out these cows are fashioned off of real cows and they have quite a beautiful story.
Not to mention, I didn’t get the pun of her trademark name “COWCH”, not to be confused with couch. Who knew I had to find a cow golf ball to understand the precious cow we have in our own family?
But Alex’s Dad had a cow story of his own. In keeping with the nursery rhyme theme we have going here, I’ll call this story of how my in-laws met: Papito Jumped Over Bolivia. Papito had gotten a scholarship to study in Texas, which then led him to continue studying in France. That’s where he met Mamita. She thought he was a Texas rancher and that he raised cattle. (Boy was she mistaken when she took that boat-ride with her spouse and young son to move to Bolivia). But I think she was confused because he always wears this hat. Wherever we go, people think he’s a rancher from Texas.
Those were the cow stories that I knew. There had to be a cow story that I didn’t know burried in one of those newspapers I had unearthed in the basement last week. It was a bit of a challenge to start going through them with this intent, but I never doubted that it couldn’t be done. If you have doubts, you must be the one hitting all those balls in the graveyard.
So I started with the papers Mom had saved in a manilla envelope from Dad’s rookie year with the 76ers when he was the sixth man, which happened to be the year before they won the World Championship. I wasn’t even born yet so it was fun to see where my parents were in that time capsule of 1966.
Anyone used to love Back to the Future, too? I don’t even need the time traveling car to go back in time. I just need to go in the basement.
Where Alex’s Dad had a fictional connection to cattle, turns out my Dad had a real tie to it as he was involved in, drum roll please, a cattle-breeding operation…but it wasn’t his only business venture.
The story of the cow led me to want to know, more importantly, why Dad was a businessman while he was playing professional ball? Was it because of Grandpa’s influence? He wanted Dad to get a real job at IBM after college and play basketball on the side.
Dad explained, “Professional basketball back in those days was an extension of your college career. You always had a job in the summer. Guys worked for banks to generate more money for their family. They’d retire at 28 years old because they’d have families and realize this wasn’t going to work.”
Incidentally, I had stumbled upon one of Wilt Chamberlain’s side jobs because Mom had saved a newspaper clipping of Wilt (7’1″) trying to get into a Volkswagen (13’4″ long). It doesn’t relate to my cow story, so just think of it as a commercial break.
Keep in mind, this wasn’t exactly a cash cow in today’s world, but Wilt was getting paid far, far better than Dad, who was also in on Wilt’s commercial. Dad was just the side of potatoes getting paid $1,000 to show that someone his size (6’6″) could get in the car. Check it out, it’s so cute.
Though it moved us further away from our cow discussion, Dad had fun memories of his sister teaching him how to get from first to third gear so he could drive ten feet for the commercial. He wasn’t going to give up his $1,000.
The commercial took forever, and while they were standing around waiting, Dad said Wilt would go to the back of the VW where the engine was, and just for kicks, he’d pick it up and move the tires. That could have been a whole other commercial.
So after that commercial break, and while we’re still on the topic of Wilt, there’s my final cow story, which we can call Wilt Jumped Over the Cow. I found the reference to Wilt’s post game ritual of drinking a quart of milk in a March 9, 1966 newspaper clipping. So I asked Dad if this was true. You know how the papers can be.
Dad said, “Oh yes. He’d also eat an apple pie and a quart of milk or a quart of orange juice at half time while the rest of us would drink a little water.” It was remarkable how he fueled himself, but Dad explained, “Gatorade wasn’t available then.”
So that’s how I came to write a post about a cow. Of course, the post doesn’t feel like it can end here, not without an explanation of the golf ball game. So if you want to stick with me, I’ll steer away from our muse on cows to explain.
It started so simply back in the summer. I found my first ball outside the golf course fence. I didn’t know then that it would change my dog-walking days from that point on. I dreamed of finding balls all summer long and making a golf ball-lined fence.
Back to the first ball I found, I put it on the top of the fence. And the reality quickly set in that my game would have to be different. The ball dissappeared. In fact, every ball I found and put up on a fence post, it didn’t matter where it was, it would be gone.
Then it became: how dare they mess with my game? I even thought of supergluing the balls to the fence post, but I had to keep this on the public side of the fence, where I’m allowed to tresspass.
The game progressed, and I’d hide the balls. I’d lose those balls too.
By September, I decided to write funny sayings on the balls, like “Was Lost But Now I’m Found” or I’d honor special dates that coincided with finding a ball like “50” (yes, that was me turning 50). But the elements were against me, or at least, there was the weather that would wear my words away (Sharpie blue pens are not weatherproof).
So I bought Sharpie Extreme’s. I was ready for the balls to be found and the golfers to have a good laugh, only it was the fall. Even if I was finding balls, no one else was looking for them.
By the time winter had set in, I was afraid to leave the balls out so I hoarded all the golf balls in my house like a squirrel with her nuts.
Even still, my family got in on the game and they find balls on their walks, too. We might not find a ball a week, but when we have a few spring days thrown into the wintry mix, we can find a ball or two. Winter golfers don’t look for their balls, for some reason.
Last week Alex found a ball that said “practice”. It wasn’t even along the golf course, but that’s when I realized that it had to be Kobe’s ball. Thanks to Kobe, every week’s muse will get a ball.
Next time the ball jumps over the fence and lands in the graveyard, don’t dismay and worry about the state of your golf game. Now that my game is in full swing, I’ll resurrect your ball with a funny little pun, a saying to let you know it’s an important event for me or my family or maybe the ball will be the title from one of my blog posts.
And even if you don’t find one of my balls and all you get is a plain white one with a number and the golf ball brand, just remember, there’s a story behind every ball, even if it’s just about the golfer who lost it. If you’re lucky enough to find a ball, see where the story leads you.