A Man Obsessed With Handicaps

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Sidney is a friend of mine from Chicago who now resides in Arizona. Since retiring from a billboard construction business he has occupied himself with two primary concerns…his golf game and his health. I suspect that he exaggerates his handicaps with regard to both issues. In an e-mail that I read this morning Sidney complained about his doctors. A cardiologist told him that his pacemaker is working fine and that the battery should last another five years. Sidney is worried about occasional palpitations and believes the battery should be replaced. A dermatologist examined a sore on his shoulder and prescribed an antibiotic ointment. Sidney fears that it is skin cancer and wants a biopsy performed. He plays golf on a regular basis with both doctors and is into them for a goodly amount of the green stuff.

“Those two young quacks are setting me up for a fall,” he wrote. “They’re just pissed off about losing so much money to me. Just the other day, one of them had the nerve to imply that my handicap was too high. Imagine that!” Having played several rounds of golf with Sidney I can assure you that such an implication would not require much imagination.

Although, like so many Americans, Sidney is obsessed with his health. They are scared to death of the one thing in life that is absolutely inevitable…namely, death.

“Believe it or not,” he continued, “there are moments when I really and truly envy Mabel. She doesn’t give a damn about her health. What bliss that must be.”

Mabel, Sidney’s wife, has been dead for three years.

She was a very sweet woman who put up with Sidney’s bouts of hypochondria and tiresome narratives of his exploits on the golf course. Mabel would often doze off listening to him without his even realizing it. He just kept on talking. Allegedly, she died in her sleep late one evening. “I’d been telling her about the day’s round of golf but, saving the best till last,” he recounted. “Then I got to the big whammy…17th hole, 168 yards, flushed a six iron as pure as ever and the ball rolled right into the cup. Only hole-in-one I’ve ever had. Most exciting moment in my life and Mabel just sat there not saying a word.”

If he hadn’t been so upset about that, Mabel might have sat there dead until Sidney came down for breakfast the next morning. As it was, he moved closer to her and began to repeat the story. Not sure how far along he proceeded but, it eventually dawned on him that his wife had become a corpse.

Fortunately, I don’t worry so much about my health. Worry creates stress and stress creates disease. That’s why it’s called disease…dis-ease. Genes are critical and I have good genes…my mother’s genes. She just turned eighty-seven and is in robust health. Of her five children my body type resembles hers the closest. With plus and minus a few salient features, of course.

As for golf…it’s a marvelous game which I used to play a great deal before moving to Thailand nineteen years ago. Since then, I may have played a dozen times. Still, I maintain a 14 handicap…every club in my bag is a handicap.

The one sporting event of the year that I make a special effort to watch is The Masters Golf Championship. I consider it to be one of the greatest spectacles of human drama on any stage. “Grace under pressure,” as Hemingway would put it. Magnolia Lane, the Butler Cabin, Bobby Jones, the Green Jacket…all played out over four days on a piece of real-estate that probably comes closest to resembling The Garden of Eden.

I realize that many, if not most, people consider watching the game to be a colossal bore. Odds are that’s because they’ve never played it. I would encourage all moderately well-to-do people, regardless of their age, to give it a try. They may find it stressful but, a lot less debilitating than worrying about their damn health.