Monday, November 10, 2008

Tee Off With the Boys from Estes House

We'll call it the non-committal time. The gap between college and taking on the responsibilities of an actual adult. For some it's a minimal chunk, a week, a month, the summer, maybe only that one night of graduation day partying; for others it's a more considerable period, a few months backpacking around Europe, a year spent "trying"to find the perfect job...

For me it would have been easier to measure in decades. Okay, maybe not that extreme, but from that wonderful graduation day back in the 90's until just a few years ago, I wasn't what one would deem a rousing success, a contributing member of society, or making Mom and Pop proud, but man did we have some fun. The non-committal years, not a lot of memories I intend to share with my kids, but some good times.

I'm sure there are hundreds of stories from that time period that would make you pee your pants in a fit of giddy laughter, at the same time causing PlainOleMom to put her house for sale, relocate her life to an embarrassment free-zone, and probably cry, but the best of them all were the two years I spent living in Estes House. About a year after graduation I moved into the monstrosity, so creatively named because of it's location on Estes Drive.

Estes House was a big ole farm house on about three acres of land, where my roommates were a revolving door cast of characters that would have made the wildest fraternities cringe and slam their doors. The events that took place there would make Animal House look like a Sunday afternoon at the old folk's home. There was the kid we found passed out somehow between the floor and the carpet one morning, the anonymous kid who somehow managed to throw up on the back of his own head, and the drunk girl who threw her shirt in the garbage then yelled at us when she couldn't find it.

There was the unheated entryway into the house that quickly became a storage facility known as "the beer room." There was the time the basement stairs fell off, with about fifteen people standing on them. The night I almost brained my landlord with a baseball bat when he snuck in at 3 am to change the furnace filter. I recall the time we "shoveled" the driveway with a can of gas and an Aim & Flame. I still have the scars to show it's a bad idea to jump off the roof no matter how soft and fluffy the snow looks. The three car garage filled to the rafters with trash becausenone of us would stoop to buying garbage stickers, and the subsequent week full of pick-up truck trips to the dumpster behind theMcDonald's. There was my roommate's unusual collection of empty toilet paper tubes that decorated the bathroom, and a weird kid we called "the Catfish" who'd show up at our parties, take his shirt off, and dance all night long. And I can't forget the disaster that ensued when we decided to use the fireplace to cook Valentine's Day steaks.

Good memories, all of them, but the best days at Estes House were the sunny afternoons spent on our very own backyard eighteen hole golf course. Lack of steady employment and an unending flow of alcohol led to us creating the greatest golf course in the storied history of the gentleman's game. Our mission: a good time, a few laughs, and making every country club member in five counties cringe.

Hole #1: We'd start at the back corner of the garage, heading out towards the enormous back yard. Now, of course, we didn't have enough room to actually drive the ball with all our might, instead we chipped our way around, and hole number one was, well, not actually a hole. With the precision of a pro, we'd have to get the ball from the cornerof the garage and onto the roof of the shed about a hundred yards away. You had to play this hole just right, because if you got too close without actually making it, it became very difficult to loft the ball onto the roof. It was best to try for about seventy yards and make the "hole" on the second shot. Things became very dicey if you went over the shed. A bonus point (or negative point in golf) was given if you could sprint up to the shed and have the ball hit you on the head when it rolled off the angled roof.

Hole #2: Hole two moved us towards the middle of the yard. Starting from wherever your ball landed after the shed roof, the objective here was to hit the driver's seat of the riding lawnmower that had magically appeared back there. One of my roommate's claimed to have "found" it, but it died halfway through it's first mowing, and it's probably still laying there on it's side. Penalty strokes were added if you got the ball stuck in the engine, under the pedals, or if it went into the blades. A particularly adventurous round included us actually runningthe blades, but one unfortunate ricochet ended that. We tried to convince Jeff that the fun really starts when someone looses an eye, but he didn't buy it, and the EMTs encouraged us that that was a really bad motto.

Hole #3: For some reason there was a garden full of ceramic flowerpots in our back yard. This probably would have been nice if there were actually flowers in them, or even dirt, but nope, this was Estes House, so there was mostly trash, cigarette butts, empty beer cans, spiders, and an assortment of godknowswhat in there. The third hole was the center pot. Surrounded by about fifteen others of various sizes, it was a test of both skill and luck. The penalty for landing in the wrong pot: a competitor was allowed drive your ball as far as they could and you'd have to start over from there. However, since we weren't allowed (or were a wee bit afraid) to reach into the pots for these penelty shots, your opponent would have to smack the whole pot with the club, hoping to send the ball flying. The ball very rarely went far, and it wasn't long before the pots were just ceramic shards lying in the dirt and hole three wasn't as challenging.

Hole #4: This hole sent you back to the back end of the yard. The object here was to drive the ball about seventy yards and hit the clothes-line pole solidly enough that there was an audible click, tick, clank, or clack. Accuracy was the key to this hole and we often overshot the pole, which sent the ball rolling down a fifty foot hill, past a barbed wire fence, and into a soy bean field. We called this hole "The Pants Ripper," I think you know why, Matt and the doctor who administered the tetanus shot sure do.

Hole #5: The Y Hole, as we called it, zigged your zag all the way back across the backyard. This hole required a really good set upshot to get you ready for your objective, sending that little white ball right through the uprights of a small Y shaped tree. This field goalish hole was fairly simple, but required several strokes to play it safe. However, two bonus points were given if you made the field goal on the first stroke - the risk being that the angle from the clothesline usually made it more likely that your ball would wind up in the muck swamp that surrounded our septic tank (not easy or pleasant to get it out of there), a true test of weighing risk vs.reward.

Hole #6: I have no idea why, but there was a tire in the middle of our yard. I'm not talking about a bike tube or hollow plastic big wheel pieces, I'm talking a tire that would make the Bigfoot truck slightly jealous. Once we tried to ride inside it down that soy bean hill, but we kept falling out before any real speed was built up, so instead it became hole six. Merely landing a small ball inside a gigantic tire would have been too easy, so the goal here was to actually get it in the tire (not just inside the circle, but in the tire). Once the ball was in the inside of the tire, you had one stroke to tap the ball hard enough that it did two complete revolutions in there, but not so hard that it popped out. This became more challenging and more fun when we decided to stand the tire upright and make the ball do a roller coaster style loopty-loop in there, but then the tire fell on Nick and the MRI tech suggested we not do that anymore.

Hole #7: A trinity of oak trees made up the far corner of the yard, probably about two hundred feet from the tire. This treeangle was hole seven. The goal here, hit all three trees, if you hit it just right and got a lucky rebound, it could be done in one stroke. Hitting it hard enough for a good ricochet and missing meant climbing the fence and getting your ball from next door. That was not good considering the neighbor's yard contained the ultimate water hazard, a water filled pit that actually looked like the hippo habitat at the local zoo. There was a greenish something swimming around in there, I have no idea what, but I wouldn't have been surprised to see alligator offspring on the back of a milk carton. Three penalty strokes if you went in the water, a thousand bonus points if you wrestled the croc.

Hole #8: We were infested with squirrels. Squirrels were everywhere. Hole eight was to make a squirrel run away. Any squirrel, anywhere in the yard. The key was silence, any noise was a penalty stroke; it had to be the ball that made that little varmints scatter, each additional squirrel was a bonus point. The critters tended to congregate back towards the back of the yard, furthest away from Hole 9, so you could take a gamble on bonus points and shoot the ball way back there. Actually striking a squirrel was three bonus points, but I don't recall anyone ever accomplishing that feat. The best score on this hole was negative fourteen when Matt accidentally shattered an old bird feeder and squirrels came running for the goods like six year olds diving for butterscotch candies at a pinata beating party.

Hole #9: The front nine ended with the "Fruithole." Yeah, we realized later that it sounds like something guys in prison might wish upon a star for, but by the time we figured that out, the name had stuck. The mission here was less foreboding than the jailbreak references may imply, all you had to do was loft the ball up in the air and knock a weird piece of fruit out of the weird fruit tree in the side yard. Bonus points if you catch the weird fruit before it hits the ground. We once gave Matt's brother ten points for taking a bite of the weird fruit, but when we couldn't decided if it was weird fruit or the gallon of vodka that made him puke neon orange, we banned any future weird fruit biting.

So, there's the front nine of the greatest golf course ever created. Arnold Palmer ain't got nothin' on the boys from Estes House. Right now, we'll take a little break for a sandwich and a beer, but later this week we'll stride on out to the tenth tee-box and finish the round.


Da Old Man said...

If you had only thought to name an event after it, like the "Lawn Tractor Invitational" and offered the lawn tractor as prize, you may have gotten ESPN to show up.

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