Fathers’ Day Find

My new hobby.

My new hobby.

When Fathers’ Day rolls around, I always feel a little left out. I don’t feel this way because I don’t embrace my fatherly responsibilities, because I do. The reason is because I can’t relate to any of the gifts that stores say are “Perfect for Dad!”

I don’t like football or watch a lot of TV, I don’t drink beer or want to learn how to brew it. I don’t wield barbecue tongs. I don’t camp. I don’t want to read thick tomes about Eisenhower. I have no desire to bench press anything. And I avoid neckties at all costs.

See what I mean? I am a dad, but I don’t do anything stereotypically dad-ish.

Until now.

I play golf!

Well, not really. What I mean by “golf” is that on my lunch hour, I stroll on a nearby course in search of lost or abandoned golf balls. It’s kind of like fishing in a stocked lake; as soon as I’ve plucked the course clean and head back to my office with my pockets full, new foursomes of lousy golfers tee up, thereby seeding the field for tomorrow’s search.

I recommend this hobby to anyone. You get good exercise and fresh air, you don’t have to drag a big ol’ bag around with you, and the quality of your walk is not at all dependent on how well you tap a little ball into a little hole. Also, there are hardly any rules to follow; I have only two:

1. Cracked or broken golf balls are not collected, for they are garbage.

2. Balls still “in play” are off limits, for I have no desire to spoil anyone’s game.

This activity also relaxes my body and mind. And when your body and mind are relaxed, some marvelously creative ideas can come to you. So I reserve a small space in my pocket for a notepad and a pen. You just never know when inspiration will strike.

But even without the mind and health benefits, I’d probably still collect golf balls. I’m not sure why, exactly, but if I were to guess, I’d attribute my newfound fanaticism to a childhood trauma:

Every year, my two cousins and I would take part in The Family Easter Egg Hunt, which was held in the cramped quarters of my grandmother’s living room. Cousin Celeste, who was only slightly older than me but alarmingly muscular for a girl, was very competitive on all matters large and small. (“I have never lost a game of Scabble!” she often boasted when we were kids. This was true, but the reason she never “lost” a game of Scabble was because whenever her competitor managed to wangle a seven-letter word, she would fling the game board Frisbee-like down the hallway.) Celeste saw Easter egg hunting as a full contact sport. Before my Great Uncle Bill would even finish saying, “On your mark!” Celeste would hip check me into Grandma’s coffee table.

My other competitor was my cousin Jason, who was younger, smaller, and fleet of foot. He could outrun anyone and had spent the bulk of his young existence learning how to dodge Celeste’s attacks.

To add insult to Celeste-inflicted injury, I was also a pretty crummy egg finder. This is a genetic flaw that my son has inherited. Fortunately, Alex has not had to suffer for it. Today’s kids live in a gentler age; The Family Easter Egg Hunt, now held in Auntie Susie’s finished basement, is no longer the free-for-all gladiator sport of the past. Now there are four jillion eggs to find — plenty for everyone! Every participant ends up happy and far, far richer for the experience. (Literally! Auntie Susie sticks dollar bills in some of those eggs!)

Back in the 1970s, however, the eggs numbered maybe a dozen and I was lucky if I could get three. Ever year I reaquatinted myself with the agony of defeat. I must have carried this agony into adulthood.

As I now patrol the golf course for stray balls, I have evolved into a sharp-eyed finder. Not only do I effortlessly scoop up the balls that had disappeared into the tall grass, but also the ones ground into the dirt by cheaters who didn’t like the look of their lie.

I have uncovered evidence of a lot of cheating, actually. Knowing that so many adults cheat at a game kind of disgusts me, but I’m also kind of glad the course is home to so many cheaters. Do you know how hard it is to find a half-buried golf ball? Those cheaters have turned me into a Finding Master.

All this leads me back to what I want for Fathers’ Day. It’s not a gift that one would find on a store’s “Perfect For Dad!” table, but it’s a gift that’s certainly perfect for me. I want another egg hunt with Celeste and Jason.

I have trained. I have become formidable. I have the eyes of a hawk. I have the Fire in the Belly. I no longer wear orthopedic shoes.

Better yet, I now have a desk drawer full of small, hard, and wonderfully hurl-able projectiles.

Game on, suckers.

70 thoughts on “Fathers’ Day Find

  1. You. Are the man, Mike.

    I used to collect mufflers from the side of the road when I was a kid ( like a taxidermist might collect roadkill, but far less icky), but yours is a far more genteel hobby and much more fun than actually playing golf.

  2. Bring it Celeste! And no, there is absolutely nothing strange or slightly pathetic about a grown man needing to exorcise trauma induced egg hunt memories. (Please don’t take up the challenge- the therapy bills for Alex, who would witness his father’s egg hunting demise, would put us in the poor house! … “He just kept looking doctor… but eggs were RIGHT THERE…”

  3. If I were a man, I’d be offended by the silly gifts that are pushed as the perfect Father’s Day gift. I walk right past those display tables when I’m getting something for my husband. As for the golf balls, I suppose it’s better to collect those than eggs. The latter could get stinky…

  4. I understand the act of collecting. I collect everything and anything. There’s a certain satisfaction to watching your stash grow and expand be it newspapers for the recycle box or toilet paper tubes in a clear lawn & leaf plastic bag till it’s full as can be.

    Tell us where and when. I’ll bring popcorn for everyone. I want to watch the egg hunt to end all egg hunts. 🙂

  5. Well, I was going to suggest you sell them back to the duffers who lost them–keep the pink one, I like that one–but that has been suggested. You could package them in sets of a dozen and sell online as the perfect poor man’s Father’s Day gift. A driving range might buy them off of you. Check out the Junior PGA program for a kid’s program. I bet they could use some driving range balls. http://www.pga.com/pga-america/juniors

    If all else fails, keep collecting them. Maybe you’ll find a thrown club and can drive the balls yourself. Check the pond. I bet there are a few clubs in there. 🙂

  6. This sounds much more fun than the actual game of golf, and useful. I think, if you wanted, it would become a competitive sport for more than just you and your cousins.

  7. Golf balls, bad father’s day gifts, mean cousins, and revenge of the decades-old Easter egg hunt. NO ONE else, and I mean, NO ONE, could put this all together to make an imaginative, fascinating, challenging blog.
    Challenging, you ask? Yes, you’ve set up the challenge to Celeste and Jason and we, your followers, are holding our breaths to read their replies.

    • You are too kind, as always, my friend.

      I don’t think Jason reads this blog. No matter; after three kids and an addiction to e-cigarettes, he is exhausted and almost certainly would be the last-place finisher in any such contest.

      As for Celeste, her reply is below. 🙂

  8. In the tradition of golf, Jason and I would be more than happy to offer you a handicap! I say we finish off a few bottles of wine, and plan on a 21 and over Easter Egg hunt in 2014 (maybe if Jason and I have enough to drink you’ll have a chance)??? One rule: No orthopedic shoes this time. I know they were your only means of defense, but those really hurt when you would kick me! Although, the first rule of Easter Egg hunting in the 1970’s was that there were no rules. Hmmmm….ok…..bring the shoes. Let’s do this.

  9. At first glance I thought it was a drawer full of marbles. I read on thinking you would spin us a story about losing your marbles only to find them again.
    Suggestion: grab a driver, walk to your nearest pier, smack them puppers out into the ocean. Refute any hostile complaints against damaging the ecosystem by stating they are biodegradable. Or prototypes thereof.

    • I have no such marble drawer. Therefore it is safe to assume that my marbles are long gone.

      I can’t endorse your “drive the balls off a pier” idea, I’m afraid. According to Seinfeld, one of those balls can lodge itself in a whale’s blowhole. Please consider this to be a public service announcement:

  10. Dads really didn’t hit the jackpot when it comes to the pre-ordained “Dad gifts”. At least your family knows that’s not the way you roll. Your new hobby should provide them with some clever ideas. Now that you are a “Master Finder” I will have to get my husband to teach you his song he made up about being a “Finder” the one time he found something that was lost. It is hysterical.

  11. OK, once I got a LITTLE past my concern for you inadvertently getting killed by an in-flight golf ball cracking your skull open, I cracked up! lol I’ll have you know that when my son was in high school, one aspect of his summer job (2 years consecutively) was to collect the stray golf balls! Just watch—you’ll end up arrested and held without bail on charges of golf ball theft lol

    And, Celeste—if Mike’s depiction of those Easter Egg hunts is accurate, I’m thinking you deserved getting kicked with those steel toes! lol Nice to hear you turned out “lovely” 🙂

    Great laugh, Mike. Thanks!

      • Yeah, it was one of his jobs as a teenager. We seem to have an inordinate amount of golf courses in relatively close proximity here, actually! Somehow, though, I don’t think my son would’ve chosen collecting the balls as a hobby 😉 If anything, he would’ve thrown them to see how far they’d go lol

  12. This reminds me of my dad and his damn metal detector. I was the one Southern California girl with a dad who searched for treasures on the beach growing up. But, I look back on that memory now and totally love it. I know that it was meditative for him as well. : )

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