‘I’m beginning to think that Chad is, like, my Mary Poppins? If that doesn’t sound too weird’
I ’m getting ready to tee off on the third in Elm Pork and there’s something that I need to say to Chad, my American friend from my J1 summer in Ocean City, who turned up on our doorstep two weeks ago, saying he’d come for The Gathering.
What I need to say is that I don’t remember him. And not only do I not remember him, none of the goys – we’re talking JP, we’re talking Oisinn, we’re talking Christian – have a clue who he is either.
Having said that, there are significant gaps in our memories of that summer. Whoever planned the town thought it would be a good idea to put the liquor store next door to the Western Union office.
Throughout June, July and August of ’01, my old man kept me supplied with a steady stream of Cora Venus Lunny, which the good people in liquor store were happy to convert into cans of Milwaukee’s Best – remembered fondly by J1 students of a certain vintage as The Beast.
Chad remembers everything. He remembers me persuading JP one morning to borrow a vintage Oldsmobile from the country club where he worked as a valet, then JP scraping the side of it off a fire hydrant while trying to parallel pork it.
He remembers me – with my famously delicate stomach – shelling prawns for something ridiculous like four hours a day with a vomit bucket permanently beside me.
He remembers all of our conquests. He remembers all of our porties. He remembers all of our misdemeanour arrests.
But no one remembers him. And I need to know why.
“Dude,” I go, loosening my shoulders for the swing, “I need to ask you a question.”
He’s there, “Can I just make an observation first?
I’m like, “Er, yeah.”
“You’re not hinging your wrists properly on your back swing. It’s depleting the power potential of your drive.”
He tells me to take a backswing. When I do, he goes, “Okay, stop! There! That’s where you’ve got to hinge those wrists! Okay? I know it feels a little strange because you’re used to not doing it? But give it a try. You’re going to be surprised by the results.”
I do as I’m told. I hinge. Then I bring the club forward and I hit literally the most unbelievable drive I’ve ever hit in my life. I’m actually going to end up birdying the hole, which I’ve never done before.
“So,” he goes, “what was this question you wanted to ask me?”
And I’m like, “Er, yeah, no, it can wait.”
A couple of hours later, roysh, we’re leaving the course with me having just corded my best ever round. My old man will actually have a shit fit when he sees my score.
I’m keying the engine and I think, okay, ask him now – as in, why can’t any of us actually place you?
That’s when, totally out of the blue, he goes, “So what did you get Sorcha for your anniversary?”