Full Contact Golf
Copyright: Christopher Slater
It took a lot to truly embarrass Norman Blackberry. He had fallen off the stage during his Drama Class play. He had a sweater
shrink on him from the rain while he was wearing it. He had misspelled his own name in a fit of nervousness when he had to make a presentation in front of his class in high school. None of this had
bothered him. But tonight, he couldn’t keep from turning red. Running out of money on a date was more than just embarrassing, it was mortifying. Norman had tried everything he could to make his
girlfriend, Vanessa, think he wasn’t as much of a klutz as everyone knew he was. Vanessa, who knew how unlucky Norman was and loved him anyways, was always high-spirited and paid for the fast food
meal with a smile. “I’m so sorry, Vanessa,” Norman said, looking at the ground. “I guess I should’ve counted my money before we left.” Norman picked up the tray of food and began walking towards a
table. He never noticed the “Wet Floor” sign, and his feet flew out from under him. Vanessa caught the tray of food without spilling a drop of Coke. Norman got up and noticed that his cowboy hat
was ruined. This was the third hat he had destroyed since he started dating Vanessa about a little over a month ago. Vanessa looked at Norman’s shaved head and giggled. His head was shaved (and
stitched in one place) because of a freak accident at the barber’s a week earlier.
Norman and Vanessa ate their meal and he drove her home. He walked her to her door, but he didn’t dare go inside. He was still
pretty sure that he wasn’t welcome in. “I can’t tell you how much fun I had tonight, Norman. After years of looking for someone whose company I can enjoy and I can relax with, I feel like I’ve
finally found him.”
Norman looked anything but relaxed. He had never really had a steady girlfriend before, and even in his wildest dreams he had
never believed he would wind up with someone like Vanessa. He was always certain he would say something stupid. Sadly, he was right. “I think I found him, too….I mean her! I mean, you! I feel like
I can relax around you!”
Laughing, Vanessa replied, “Then you might want to try it sometime. Goodnight, Norman.” She leaned forward to kiss him goodnight,
but before she could her father coughed loudly from inside. Vanessa rolled her eyes and walked inside. Norman watched her go in, then quickly turned away when he saw her father glaring at him
through the open door while cleaning his shotgun.
When Norman got back home, his mother was waiting up as usual. “Hello, dear. Did you mess up another hat?”
Norman nodded. He had been thinking about it for the entire drive home. His parents had always given him money for the work he did
around the house. It had always been enough for him to get by. That was before he had spent over $300 on cowboy hats. “Mom, I need to go out and get a job. After all, I’m 19 years old and you never
let me work. Every time I mention it, you change the subject.”
Norman’s mother answered without missing a beat. “Would you like some cookies? I baked a fresh batch tonight. I made sure to keep
them gooey, just the way that you like them. How does Vanessa like her cookies? You know, you can tell a lot about a person by how they…”
“Mother!” Norman interrupted. “You’re doing it again…and, I would like a cookie please.”
After getting Norman a cookie, she sat across the table from him. “Norman, there is something that your father and I hoped we
would never have to tell you about yourself. Norm, dear, you’re a klutz.”
Norman laughed so hard that the milk he was drinking came out his nose. The milk sprayed onto an electrical outlet, causing the
lamp plugged into it to short out. His mother acted like she didn’t notice. Norman wiped his face off and looked at her. “What tipped you off, Mom? The fact that I smack face first into every
closed door I come to? The fact that the Cub Scouts kicked me out for that forest fire? Or could it have been that judge who tried to have a special message put on my driver’s license that said
‘Menace to Society’? Don’t worry, Mom. I’ll find a job that doesn’t require coordination. OK?” His mom slowly nodded her head.
Norman started early the next day. It would have helped if he had considered his choice of wardrobe first. He quickly discovered
that most department stores would not even interview you if you were wearing boot-cut jeans and a ruined cowboy hat. He had once heard that fast food restaurants would hire almost anyone. He went
to the closest one he could find. He filled out the application and was asked to stay for an interview. As he walked back towards the manager’s office through the kitchen, he looked around for any
potential dangers. Realizing that there were so many, he decided it would be easier to look for things that he couldn’t screw up. He was having to look around so much that he didn’t pay attention
to where he was going. He knocked a mop handle into the grill, starting a small fire. The manager threw him out, using language that Norman wasn’t even sure was English. After that, no fast food
restaurant within twenty miles would let him apply for a job, and three refused to let him eat there. Norman finally managed to get hired for a job that even he was sure that he couldn’t screw up.
He became a golf caddy.
Norman showed up for work bright and early. He rejected his normal clothes for something a little more acceptable. He discovered
that after a month of wearing jeans and western shirts, regular clothes made him itch. His boss finally had to ask him if he had fleas. Norman laughed like it was a joke and checked the assignment
board. He was already assigned to caddy for someone. He was about to go and find them, but when he turned around, they had already found him. It was Vanessa’s father. “Uhhh….Hello Mr. Humphries,”
Norman stammered. There were few people that Norman was truly, honestly, deathly afraid of. Phillip Humphries was one of them. Six-foot-four, 220lbs, and a face that looked like it had never smiled
and might break if it tried. To make matters worse, he had never acted like he liked Norman. This was especially true since one of Norman’s previous dates with Vanessa had ended when they had both
received citations for trespassing on the SWAT team training grounds. Norman had never tried to explain why they were there. He kept waiting for Mr. Humphries to grow horns and breathe fire because
Norman had tried to kiss his little girl.
Without a smile, Mr. Humphries pointed towards his bag. “Come on, Norman. Grab my clubs and let’s go.” Norman picked up the bag.
He had never picked up a bag full of golf clubs before. The weight surprised him, and he fell over backwards. Mr. Humphries didn’t seem to notice as he continued walking towards the first tee.
Fortunately for Norman, the club provided golf carts for the players, so he didn’t have to lug the bag far. He finally managed to
shove the golf bag into the back and drove Mr. Humphries to the first tee. He got out and handed him a driver. Hr. Humphries hit the ball perfectly, landing about 20 yards from the hole. Norman
prepared to drive towards where the ball landed, but Mr. Humphries did not start walking towards the cart. Instead, he placed another tee and put a ball on it. He held his driver out to Norman. “I
didn’t bring my golf partner this time, and I can’t play golf alone. You can use my clubs.” Norman wasn’t sure if he should feel privalaged or concerned. He didn’t have the guts to admit that he
had never played golf before in his life. The closest he had ever came to it were games of putt-putt. He looked around quickly, but didn’t see any clowns heads to hit the ball into. Sheepishly, he
accepted the outstretched driver. He lined himself up, rared back, and hit the ball with all of his strength. Being his first time, he swung the club too far inside. The ball flew off to the right,
clearing the trees. A few seconds later, he heard several old men cursing on the fifth hole about getting hit by a rogue ball. Mr. Humphries just shook his head. “I wouldn’t play that one through,”
The second hole proved just as interesting. Mr. Humphries shot was another perfect drive. Norman tried to line himself up better
this time and concentrated as he swung. He was rewarded with the feeling of a good, solid hit on the ball. It soared into the sky, flying a straight and almost perfect path. Norman was truly
amazed. Even Mr. Humphries showed the slightest sign of admiration. Then, at the height of its flight, the ball hit a bird. The bird did a nose-dive to the ground, and the ball landed right next to
it. Norman gasped at the thought of killing a bird. He ran over to it and bent down to check and see what had happened. The bird, shocked but not dead, jumped up and flew away, narrowly missing
Norman’s nose. Norman jumped back and barely managed to stifle a high-pitched scream. He looked over at Mr. Humphries. He was an unsmiling statue. Norman proceeded to stare at the ground, shyly
chose another club, and played through. Mr. Humphries, ironically, finished the hole with a birdie. Norman finished six over par.
After putting the clubs back into the cart, Norman began driving to the next hole. He never saw the golf ball sitting on the
trail. As it ran over it, the weight of the cart busted the golf ball. A sharp splinter from the ball punctured the tire of the golf cart. The tire blew with a loud bang. Norman, not quite sure
what was going on, thought someone had just shot at them. He jumped out of the side of the cart and ducked beside it for cover, wondering why anyone would want to shoot him. Then he had flashbacks
of all of the people who had been injured over the years because of his clumsiness. Could it be the chemistry teacher whose eyebrows never quite grew back? Was it the parking lot attendant that now
had a permanent limp? Maybe it was his entire high school marching band that he tripped up during a half-time routine. That one tuba player had been really ticked off once they had pulled his leg
out of the tuba. All of these possibilities and more flashed before Normans eyes. He was brought back to reality by the strangest noise he had ever heard.
Still sitting in the cart, Mr. Humphries was laughing. In fact, he was on the verge of tears. For a moment, Norman thought his
mind had snapped. Then Mr. Humphries looked over at him with tears streaming down his face and said, “Norman, you are incredible! I have never had someone try to make me laugh so hard! Now I see
why my daughter looks forward to seeing you so much.” Mr. Humphries laughed even harder, mumbling something about a bird, a ball, and some old men.
Norman couldn’t find it in himself to tell Mr. Humphries that he had not been doing all of these things to try and make him laugh.
Instead, he got back up into the cart and said, “Mr. Humphries, I want to apologize for the incident with the police…”
Mr. Humphries put his hand on Norman’s shoulder. “Call me Phil. Vanessa explained the whole thing to me. I trust my girl to not
let herself get into anything bad. I think I can trust you to do the same.” Phil laughed. “But if you ever do it again, I’ll use you as my next golf tee. Understand?” He was still smiling, but
Norman knew that he very serious. He nodded meekly.
Norman and Mr. Humphries played the rest of the course. While Phil’s mood had improved, Norman’s game had not. Phil set a new
course record. Norman lost three golf balls, injured a squirrel (it was just a flesh wound), left a divit in the putting green (he never figured out how he managed that one), and finished forty-six
over par. Mr. Humphries gave Norman a hefty tip with the understanding that the money would be spent on Vanessa on their next date.
A week later, Norman went to pick up Vanessa for a date. Much to his surprise, Mr. Humphries invited him in to wait for her. In
over a month, he had never actually been in Vanessa’s house. To Norman’s delight, Mr. Humphries wasn’t cleaning a gun this time. The wait was short. Vanessa came walking down the hallway with her
usual enthusiasm, and they departed. On his way out the door, Norman heard Mr. Humphries say, “Norm, could you do me a favor?” Norman turned around smiling. Mr. Humphries was like a statue. “Don’t
run over the dang mailbox.” That’s when Norman noticed that he wasn’t cleaning a gun this time; he was sharpening a knife.
“Yes, sir,” Norman replied shakily. He walked out of the door, looking somewhat frightened.
Vanessa, on the other hand, couldn’t have looked more overjoyed. “Oh, Norman! This is great!” Norman couldn’t figure out for the
life of him what she meant, so he asked her. With a smile as bright as the sun, she answered, “Can’t you tell? My father likes you! He really likes you!”
Norman almost asked how she could tell, but decided not to. He held the car door for her and bit back a scream after almost
slamming his finger in it. As he walked to the driver’s side door, he realized that his clumsiness had one him the love of a wonderful young lady and the friendship of her father. That meant that
they were either the nicest family in the world, or they were all nuttier than he was. As he sat down and looked over at Vanessa, he decided that it didn’t matter. They were his kind of crazy.
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