I thought I told this story before, but some quick research indicates that I have not. If I have, pretend it is a greatest hits anecdote. I think the reason I probably held off in the past is that the focal point of this story is not the big kid at the keyboard. To tell this tale, I will have to stop talking about myself, at least for part of the time. Like all great anecdotes, this one centers around D-III college golf. The greatest sport there ever was. The scene is Ocean City, Maryland. Former home to the Centennial Conference championships, and a gem of a target golf abortion called, Eagle’s Landing. This is where all the powerhouses gathered (Ursinus, Western Maryland, etc) to battle it out for 54 holes. It was about the only thing approaching a real golf tournament I ever played. The rest were just 18-hole sprints in an array of awful conditions.
My freshman year our team arrived in Ocean City with little fanfare. Later on, we’d actually be expected to win the tournament (and buckle), but that first year we had pretty tame expectations and I was hoping for the best. It was going to be a chance to act like idiots in a hotel for a couple of nights, continue to put off working for finals, and play some bogey golf. Sounds like a dream, but I had no idea just how trying an experience this would become for some members of our team.
The first day was a partial washout. No real surprise there, weather was a constant concern, but we squeezed in nine holes before things got unplayable and then had some time to kill. Obviously the first thing on our minds was dinner. This was not a team of dieters, to be sure. Eating on the road was always a production. Our coach, the now fabled G-Rob, lorded over meal money with an iron fist. How much we had, or could spend seemed to vary. More often than not we were in a Perkins or some fast food establishment. He had his favorite haunts, though, and every morning in Ocean City we went to breakfast at Pickles. This required us to get up well earlier than every other team for a full sit down breakfast, but G-Rob needed his burnt bacon.
I’m digressing, the point is we rarely branched out to anything unfamiliar or nicer than $9 a man. Every time we were down in Ocean City, though, G-Rob would tease us with the idea of this all you can eat buffet. I think he had been there with one of his basketball squads, and thought it was an amazing experience. I want to say the cost was something like $19.99 a man, which for a seafood oriented buffet should probably make you nervous, but in our case sounded very extravagant. He would tell us things like if we saved money at other meals we could eventually afford to go to this buffet. Again, with the meal money shadow games. Well, I think most people thought he was bluffing, but to our surprise after that first day of golf we were on our way to this place that I think was called The Bonfire. Strap on the feed bags, lads.
Some members of the team were more excited than others. As I said, the buffet featured a wide-array of food, but mostly focused on wonders from the sea. Crab legs, various shrimp products, and I think there were some clams involved as well. The Swan, and another kid on the team named Tucker were especially excited for this feast. I was lukewarm until I saw the chicken fingers, and then I also couldn’t be happier. While I was setting some type of amateur finger eating record the rest of the boys were in fish heaven. All reports on the food were good, and for once, we felt like we hadn’t been shorted on a meal, although our server would eventually get shorted…wink, wink, G-Rob strikes again.
But, the bliss would only last so long. Apparently the devil was in some of those clams. The night before the crucial second round of the event Swan and Tucker wore down dueling paths to the can. Food poisoning of an angry variety. It seems to me that seafood brings about the worst cases of this ailment? Anyway, I was in a chicken coma and didn’t hear any of the commotion. The next morning I woke up feeling a little disgusted with how much I’d eaten, but otherwise I was good to go. Not so much Tucker and the Swan. They were wallowing in bed. Somehow I think it fell on me to go tell G-Rob that 40% of our squad was suffering from the Ebola-coli.
G-Rob isn’t the softest touch out there, factor in we would be disqualified if we couldn’t field 4 golfers and he was quickly on the way to our room for a pep-talk. I waited patiently in the van with the other two healthy members of our team and eventually Tucker and the Swan emerged dressed and ready to go. It may be the only time that I’ve ever seen people looking green. It was very similar to cartoon animation. I was worried they were going to lose it before we could get to the course. I think G-Rob was mostly pissed because we no longer had time to go to Pickles.
During the round I would once again be oblivious to the plights of my teammates. As I happily slashed my 2-iron around Eagle’s Landing, they were trying to cork it for a couple of holes at a time before fleeing desperately for the nearest bathroom. Our team did not score so well that day, but we weren’t disqualified. The final day Tucker improved incrementally, but the Swan waved the white Swan flag and we played with four guys. We closed strong, I actually played great the last two days, but I wouldn’t have gotten the chance if wasn’t for the heroics of the fearless clam eaters. Not only that, but G-Rob saved immensely on meal money the last two days.
The moral, aside from G-Rob always getting his, is a pretty simple one. If you were supposed to eat clams, they wouldn’t have a shell. And, there it is.