Archive for July, 2006

Lauri

When I was born, and my sister Lauri heard that she had a 4th brother instead of a baby sister, she cried. I can’t say that I blame her. Who would want a stinky little ankle-biter of a brother when she could have had a cute little sister? Luckily for me, she recovered very quickly from that initial disappointment. Once I started school and my Mom went back to work it was often up to Lauri, who also happens to be my godmother, to fulfill the duty of watching me. Even if she did occasionally dress me up like a girl (wishful thinking, perhaps?) many of my best childhood memories revolve around my sister.

Lauri tells everyone that she was named after a used car lot. The story goes that my mother was pregnant when she saw a used car lot called “Lauri’s” and thought that it would be a cute name if she had a daughter. I tell my sister that, sure, she might be named after a used car lot, but at least she has a story. My name just came out of nowhere. What’s the fun in that?

Despite a lifetime of people misspelling her first name, Lauri is one of the kindest people I have ever met, and has an incredible internal compass for what is wrong and what is right. Her wit and sense of humor are so sharp and dead-on that she could earn her keep as a standup comedienne if she was so inclined. Lauri is thoughtful – she always remembers birthdays, anniversaries, and other dates I can’t seem to keep straight – and she’s always willing to help out, especially when someone is needed to baby-sit or, in my case, to dog-sit. Ok, I’m gushing.

The first thing I learned when I was growing up was that Lauri would protect me against my brothers. Older brothers have a tendency to, well, stomp younger brothers, and the main reason for my continued survival was that Lauri would stand up for me. My brothers knew better than to mess with the woman quick-witted enough to be known as “The Queen of the Barbs”.

When she wasn’t protecting me from my older brothers, Lauri took a photography class. She decided that she needed some action photos, so she tied a towel around my neck and had me pretend to be Superman and “fly” by jumping off of our picnic table. (As a side note, I remember that when I was a kid I would get on a swing set, go as high as I could, and then jump off to see how far I could go. You couldn’t pay me to do that today).

When I got too hot from playing Superman, Lauri and I would hop into her orange Ford Pinto – with a special license plate on the front that said “Pumkin” – and head to Worcester Center for an Orange Julius and a hot dog. Orange Julius was a distinctive frothy orange drink that was pretty refreshing after a long day of fighting crime in the hot sun. I haven’t had an Orange Julius in about 27 years, but I can still remember exactly what they tasted like.

She’s the other voice on the embarrassing (my wife thinks they are cute) audio tapes from my early years. One has her running me through my ABC’s – apparently at one point, I thought that the letter “W” was pronounced “Bugoobugah” – and another one has her talking to my brother while in the background my 3-year old voice can be heard yelling for some, well…um, assistance in the WC (This tape mysteriously disappeared for a few years).

My sister also worked at a roller skating rink, and therefore, while my mom was at work, I spent a ton of time at the rink with her, learning to skate and blowing through her minimum wage salary on video games. She would always take the time to think of something that would be more fun than sitting around the house; whether it was a public pool, a playground, or for a ride on the back of my Dad’s little Honda motorcycle.

One year, after she was living in an apartment, she took me to see the midnight showing of E.T. and then I stayed over at her apartment. I remember it distinctly because in the morning when she went to take a shower, she gave me explicit instructions as to what I was supposed to say if a guy named Dave, who she thought might ask her out, should happen to call.

Years later, when she married Dave, she invited me, her 13-year old brother, to be an usher in her wedding. It remains one of the highest honors I have had in my life. It was also an honor for me, when it came time for me to be married, that Lauri accepted the Megger’s offer to be in our wedding party. It just wouldn’t have been the same if she hadn’t been involved. My family seems to feel the same way: Lauri is godmother to about 12 kids.

These days we see each other every Sunday for breakfast and we occasionally team up for trivia contests. Not everyone is lucky enough to have a sister who was named after a used car lot, and I know that I don’t tell her enough how I feel (you know, because it’s all AWKWARD to talk about icky feelings). Maybe next time when we’re stumped on a trivia question about wretched geography (the bane of our existence), I’ll cheer her up with an Orange Julius. Of course, the bar where we play trivia doesn’t HAVE Orange Julius, so I’d have to sneak out and try to find one and then ask the bartender to keep it special for me in the fridge…never mind, maybe I’ll just tie a towel around my neck and jump off of the table.

Back in the Day Tim 28 Jul 2006 No Comments

This is the 15th year that my family and friends have gathered at Juniper Hills Golf Course in Northboro for our annual Waggler’s Open golf tournament.  The tournament, which is played just for fun (the winning teams receive hats), is in a scramble format (everyone hits, then they all move to the spot of the best shot, then everyone hits again) with two tee shots required from each player in the foursome.  It’s a simple and fun tournament. 

Each team in the tournament is usually made up of one good/decent golfer and three other players of varying abilities.  On my team, “The Loopers”, we have one very good golfer – Frasier – and three people who don’t golf much at all – Dan, Dawn, and me.  Essentially, Frasier prays that we each can hit 2 reasonable drives and he does the rest. 

There is only so much even a talented golfer like Frasier can do when he is saddled with a black hole of golf talent like me.  As a result, my team, which this year is playing together for the 10th time, usually finishes in the middle of the pack for the Waggler’s Open with a score somewhere around even par.  We did win the tournament one year, but that was the year that there was a ton of rain (by a ton I mean a small monsoon) and our putts, which usually rocket past the hole, suddenly had just the right amount of power behind them. 

My brother Mike, on the other hand, is quite a good golfer (I think he has an 8 handicap, which is apparently very good…I have an 87 handicap).  His teams have won the Waggler’s Open 5 times and he has never finished last.  Mike organizes the tournament every year and his tendency to stand over the ball and fidget for what seems like an eternity is the reason for the tournament’s name.  His team is always a favorite to win the tournament, and it was again this year. 

I was concerned that, with all of the rain we received this spring, the course would be wet or otherwise not up to par, but it was outstanding.  The greens and fairways were very well maintained and it was a beautiful day. 

The tournament opened normally:  Mike and various other members of my family were watching as I hit my first tee shot into the trees.  One swing, one lost ball.  Thankfully, Frasier clubbed one down the middle of the fairway to save our team.  It seemed like nothing out of the ordinary was going to happen…until we birdied the second hole. 

Then we birdied the 3rd hole, on an outrageous putt by yours truly, to get to 2-under par.  We had never been 2-under par before in a Waggler’s.  Then we birdied the par-3 5th hole (on a closest to the pin winning shot by Frasier) to go to an unbelievable 3-under par; uncharted territory for my team.  I was so excited at this point that I could barely stand still, and I don’t even really LIKE golf.  You’d think that there was money riding on the tournament or something. 

Anyway, we promptly came right back down to earth by bogeying the 6th and 7th holes to bring us back to -1.  I was disappointed, but not surprised.  Talent will find its level.  We scored pars on 8 and 9 to come in at -1 for the front nine and we took a break for hot dogs and frozen Snicker bars (a tradition). 

It was on the back 9 holes where things started to get a little surreal for The Loopers. 

Thanks to Frasier, we birdied the 10th hole.  -2.  Then, on the 12th hole, Dawn hit a nice tee shot and Dan set up to take his second shot, 136 yards away from the hole.  Dan is the guy who, many years ago, was so desperate after hitting his shots so far to the right that we actually aimed him 45 degrees left of the hole on a tee shot.  He then proceeded to drive a perfectly straight and long drive directly into the woods.  It is probably the best tee shot he has ever hit.  He has improved since then, to be fair. 

Anyway, Dan’s shot followed a beautiful arc onto the green, bounced twice and disappeared into the hole for an eagle.  When the ball vanished, our team began dancing and screaming, not the general etiquette for a golf course (after the tournament, people kept saying, “Oh, that’s what that noise was.”).  The eagle brought us to -4 and gave us all the feeling that this was a special day.  The tournament record was -3. 

We continued on a roll – every putt was dropping and everyone was coming up with key shots – finishing out the round with birdies on the 15th and 18th holes for a total score of -6; twice the tournament record.  There was much rejoicing, but to the relief of the course officials, no nudity. 

The best part of the round, however, came while I was standing in the parking lot and Mike came driving toward me in his golf cart.  He was pointing at me and shouting, “I BEAT YOU!  I BEAT YOU!!  HA HA!!  I’M CLOSEST TO THE PIN!!” 

I waited until he got a little closer and then congratulated him on a great performance.  I then asked him how his team did. 

“Minus FIVE!!  New Waggler’s record, baby!” 

I smiled.  “Well, that’s good enough for second place.” 

His smile disappeared and his face registered the shock I imagine that people experience when they realize that they have just stepped into quicksand. 

“Who could possibly have beaten that score?” he asked, incredulous. 

I handed him my team’s scorecard.  

“You?” he asked in disbelief.  “The team that always finishes at even par?  YOU AREN’T GOOD ENOUGH TO MAKE THAT SCORE!” 

Any other year, he would have been right.  Two days later, Mike was still in a daze, but fluke or not, my Waggler’s Champion hat fits perfectly. 

Sports Tim 14 Jul 2006 No Comments