We had all become friends over the sport of golf. Specifically, phone app golf. These were some of the best guys I’d met in the past three years. It was decided at some point to actually meet in person and get a real round of golf together.
It all started with me and Cuz. I call him Cuz because we’re both Italian and both smartasses who love to laugh. His surname is Russo. Man, what a funny guy he is.
He’s about fifteen years older than me. We love mafia movies, funny quotes, and cursing out our golf game. He has smashed far more phones over it though than I have. He’s got a bit of a temper.
We met our other three buddies around the same time. Johnny, Jeremy, and Nate all joined our group around the same time. We all bonded over thumb golf, funny chats, laughing at Cuz’s temper tantrums and his Russoisms.
What’s a Russoism? A Russoism is any crazy, hilarious thing that he spouts off when he’s being funny or is angry. And believe me, there are plenty of them. For example, during a recent tournament, he posted in the group chat a classic Russoism:
“I’m playing like a dick with ears”.
While I felt bad for his tournament performance, I still had to laugh. This is typical Russo. He’s funny like a clown.
They arrived in town the same day. It had been decided they’d all come to my home turf, as I had a large enough home to accommodate them all. We also have a number of affordable, fun golf courses to play. After a fun night of cooking Italian food, drinking wine, laughing, and getting to know each other in person, we called it a night.
We had a 9 am tee time at one of the better courses nearby. We had to make sure they could accommodate five of us and they assured us it was doable. We told them we were experienced players and could keep it moving.
We decided that due to our semi-advanced ages, we’d get two golf carts to move along quicker. Cuz broke the seal on breakin’ balls right away.
“All right. I’m riding with J-Pro. You’re drivin’, Cuz. You look like a wheelman to me.”, he said in his East coast, confident, fast-talking way.
I sighed loudly, “Oh fantastic. I get to drive with Mr. Sunshine, here.”
Russo laughed. “Yeah Yeah.” Get in, already. While I’m young.”
“Young? YOU?”, Nate interjected. He was the youngest in our group, so he had the right to say what we were all thinking.
I had to keep this going. “Nate has a point, Cuz. Tell us something, what was Jesus really like?”
Cuz didn’t miss a beat: “How about I send you to meet him in person, if you don’t shut the fuck up, already?”
Booming laughter from the whole group. Russo may have been the oldest of us in our group but damned if he wasn’t the maestro with his shit-talking. We pulled up to the first hole.
I got out and grabbed my golf bag. Russo notices my pastel-colored lavender golf shirt and rolled his eyes.
“WHAT?” I said, challenging him to say something.
“Nothing…”, he mutters, staring at my shirt. A second eye-roll.
“Let me guess. Real men don’t wear light purple?” I asked.
“You said it, not me.”
I had to end this before it got out of hand. “Well, does this shirt make me look gay, or does it make you FEEL gay.” I said, flexing my biceps at him.
“Aw, Christ on a cupcake, can you just drop it already?” he said, laughing at my double biceps front pose.
I felt bad about my comment and said, “Damn, I probably shouldn’t have said that. But I do have a gay daughter, maybe I get a pass.”
“Hey, fuck ’em if they can’t take a joke.” Another Russoism, poignantly delivered.
Then Cuz started twisting and bending, yelling back to us all “DON’T FORGET TO STRETCH!”. To which I replied, “Stretch this”, as I grabbed my crotch. More laughter from our party.
“I’m fuckin’ serious! Do your stretching! You’re gonna be up shit creek with no paddle by the turn if you don’t loosen up!”
John chimed in, “Hey, I’ll loosen up when the cart gal comes by with alcohol.” I had to agree with him. We all did. It was already warming up in the morning, being a summer weekday. Cold drinks sounded good.
After the first hole and Cuz’s first profanity on a poor second shot into the bunker, we moved along to the 2nd hole. A dogleg Par 5. Nate decided it was none too early to test his slice drive. Nate “The Slice is Right” Johnson.
He actually lived up to his nickname and hit a beauty that sliced right onto the fairway. Jeremy was next and declined to attempt a slice to match Nate. John and I felt similarly about it. Russo just said, “The only slice you’re gonna see from me is the lemon slice I put in my vodka. Where is that drink gal, already?”
After finishing the Par 5 second hole and the next one, a short par 3, we finally caught up with the drink cart.
Russo was grateful. “Thank fuck. I was starting to think we were going to be wandering like the Israelites for 40 years.”
“No, it just feels like that, as much as you’ve been in the sand traps already, Hasselhoff.” I had to give him more crap, as much as he’d given me over our dumb golf game for three years.
He side-eyed me and replied, “Stifle.” as he approached the cart gal. “Anything these mooks want, first round on me.” His generosity was appreciated, though I wondered if that big 90’s Cadillac he arrived into town in held duffle bags full of cash from a heist.
I’d always laughed and joked with him about how he was probably an older Italian gangster back in Philly in the 80s. While it mostly was funny and speculative, I did sometimes wonder.
We all thanked Cuz for his generosity and wasted no time wetting our whistles. Johnny said, “Cuz, you should have asked her for her number. I think she was into you.”
Russo scoffed at the idea. “Are you kidding me? She couldn’t have been more than 21. And I couldn’t get laid in a women’s prison with a fistful of pardons.”
His Rodney Dangerfield delivery made those of us who were drinking at that moment spit our drinks all over ourselves. I think Jeremy coughed up a lemon slice. It wasn’t as pretty as Nate’s earlier slice drive.
We calmed down enough to get through the middle of the front nine holes. Johnny caught fire with his putting and took the lead. Jeremy hit some booming drives. Cuz was hitting off the closer fairway really well and even holed a chip from the sand trap on #8.
“Tommy Short-Game is in the house!” I yelled after he dropped it in.
“Yeah yeah. Tommy Prick has his moments.” Cuz fired back. “Goddamn, it’s hotter than a whore in boots out here. Who’s idea was it to do this golf trip in JULY, anyway?”
I answered back, “Jesus, somebody get Gramps a hot dog or something. He gets cranky when his blood-sugar dips too low.”
“I’ll dip you. That pond over there, Cuz. Swimmin’ with the fishies.”, he retorted. The man just never lets up, sharp as the razor blade he used the night before to slice garlic. He had all of us in stitches after our first drinks.
We took a stop by the clubhouse to grab some beers and a bit of food to take with us for the back nine. Then we decided to hit the head for a piss break, as men of a certain age tend to do. It’s never good to pass up a bathroom in your middle-age years, when convenient.
Russo finally came out after making us wait. Johnny gave him some shit about taking so long, “Well, we WERE young, until you went into the bathroom. Now we’ve caught up to you.”
Dramatic stare down, for effect by Cuz: “How about you fucks cut me some slack? My prostate is probably the size of Nate’s oversized driver. Plus I had to write down your mother’s phone number I saw on the stall.”
Once we could breathe again after all the laughter, we cracked some beers and set off to start the back 9. We had to wait for a couple of minutes to tee off, a group of four ahead of us seemed to be taking their time clearing the fairway.
Jeremy noticed the yardage sign. “Geez, this is a shorter par 4. They’re only halfway down the fairway?” Nate agreed. “Even Russo could drive farther than these guys”
Cuz was unimpressed with Nate’s comment. “Look here, I’m six foot two. Let me grab you a milk crate and you can say that face to face to me.” I quickly envisioned a Gladiator-type moment playing out on the 10th hole tee box.
To avoid any potential bloodshed, I quickly proposed we have a long drive contest on this hole. Everybody tossed in $20 to make it interesting. Nate went first and The Slice Was NOT Right. Almost a ninety-degree angle on that one.
Johnny said, “Wow, that would have won. If it wasn’t on the opposite fairway to our right.”
“Yeah, give this man some aiming fluid!” I said, tossing a beer at him.
“Looks like a four-man contest, Boys.”, Jeremy said, before topping his drive and seeing it dribble 80 yards away.
Cuz, under his breath: “Three-man contest.”
I actually tagged one for once and briefly considered a future on the senior PGA tour. At a minimum, the long drive circuit. But Johnny quickly crushed my dreams with his best drive of the day and my $100 disappeared like a fart in the wind.
“SONOFABITCH!” I yelled.
“Easy, Spartacus…”, said Russo, making it in no way better.
“I mean, great job, Johnny. Couldn’t have happened to a luckier guy.”
Johnny chuckled. “You mean harder-hitting guy, J-Pro. Someday you’ll grow up and hit ’em like that.”
Cuz went in for the kill: “Grow up? You mean grow OUT. Did you see the way this guy ate last night? No wonder Mooch is so fat. She looks like a party balloon.”
Once their fat-shaming of me and my dog Libby (Russo named her Mooch years ago) ended, I sulked over the rest of my cheeseburger. Shit, maybe they had a point. Where’s the beef?
Cuz wasn’t finished yet: “Good thing Mooch didn’t come with us. You wouldn’t have any of that burger left!”
“Yo Cuz, ease up on Mooch. She’s my buddy. I kind of wish I did bring her, I miss her.” I replied.
Cuz said, “Naw, better you didn’t. There’s a weight limit on these carts, I’m sure.”
After halfway considering driving the cart straight at the pond and jumping off, leaving Russo to drown, we pulled up to the next hole.
Comfortably into our back 9, I decided to break out the surprise I had brought for the group. I pulled out a hand-rolled, large-sized joint I had rolled before the boys arrived in town. Their eyes bugged out as I lit it up.
“FIRE IN THE HOLE!” I busted out, after taking a monster hit and laughing like a goon. I passed it to Cuz.
“Holy Mary Mother of Mooch! Where the fuck did you get that?”
“Fuhgeddaboutit. Just hit the damn thing.” I told him.
“I haven’t hit one of these since Regan was office! I dunno about this.” Cuz was surprisingly sketchy about this. I hadn’t seen this side of him before.
“WHERE’S YOUR BALLS? Hit that thing and pass it to the left. Hurry up before the marshal sees us and puts you into a shitty retirement home or San Quentin. I doubt you want to go back there and see your family again.” I laughed at my own joke, there.
Russo’s eyes went to slits and said, “I’ve never been in the joint. Too smart for that noise.”
“JOINT! HAHAHA!” Speaking of which, puff, puff, PASS! Get ‘er done!” I was running out of patience with him. Willie Nelson had him by 20 years, what the hell was taking him so long?
He was having trouble lighting it in the wind. We stood around him to try to shield the wind.
Cuz sputtered, “Hey back up a step or two! I thought they only had huddles in football!”
I was losing my patience. “Football? Hell no, this is about to turn into a circle jerk, if you don’t hurry up and light that fuckin’ thing!”
Cuz, wide-eyed: “That’s ELDER ABUSE!”
He finally took a draw off the spliff and coughed like a 12-year-old having his first smoke behind the school gym. I made him take another one and he finally passed to the other fellas. They were not surprisingly as rusty as Russo. We all got in that nice, smooth pocket of feeling awesome and giggly.
The rest of the round was somewhat of a blur as one might imagine after that. The Slice is Right hit a number of nice ones but did have one more errant one. It tagged a copper awning over a window and sounded like a shotgun went off.
We hit the deck like it was a drive-by. Then we got scared the owner might come out and go off on us, so we just put everyone down for a birdie and high-tailed it to the next hole. A bit paranoid, but that was the weed’s fault, not ours.
We forgave Mary Jane though on the 18th hole and offed her at the middle of the fairway, finishing our greens before the green. The meal we had afterward was among the best any of us had ever partaken of after any round of golf. Must have had a hell of a cook there.
The day was wrapped, memories were made, and an Uber was taken home. Driving after the day we had on the golf course was not in the cards. That would have ended worse than a round of Mario Kart. We did the responsible thing.
We were welcomed home by a starving Mooch, and she was glad to get the doggie bag we managed to bring home to her. We immediately planned our next golf outing for a future date. Next time we’ll bring some munchies.