Monthly Archives: June 2014

Maleficent – Movie Review

Maleficent is a re-telling of the story of Sleeping Beauty, from the point of view of the evil witch who casts the spell on Beauty. It stars Angelina Jolie as the beautiful and powerful fairy Maleficent who lives in an enchanted forest next to the kingdom where humans live.

ANGELINA

She has a beautiful life in the forest with the other magical creatures and wishes no harm to humans or anyone. The humans, however are scared and suspicious of fairy people, and as humans have done throughout history, they react with violence against things they do not understand. This leads to a series of events that leaves Maleficent hating all humans, and especially the human king.

She casts a spell on the king’s only daughter. The spell is that on her 16th birthday the king’s daughter will prick her finger on the needle of a spinning wheel and fall into a deep sleep never to awaken.  When asked for mercy, Maleficent adds that only the kiss of true love will be able to awaken the girl. Maleficent’s own life has been so tortured that she no longer believes in  any kind of love, much less true love.

Beauty is played by Elle Fanning, who herself is only 16. Despite her young age she has appeared in numerous major movies and is one of the most accomplished young actresses working today.

ELLE

The story of Sleeping Beauty has been told in various forms for over 600 years. However in most versions the evil witch and even Beauty herself are very one dimensional, almost boring stock characters. However this movie treats them as complex multifaceted individuals.

The movie is in 3-d and the special effects are amazing to see. However it is the acting and the characters that make this a beautiful film for adults as well as children. Without giving too much of the story away, we will say that parents will be touched deeply by this film and thatit explores what is really meant by “true love”.

This movie has our highest recommendation.

 

 

Comfortable Rope

We actually thought of ourselves as experienced sailors. We were racing Lightnings.

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There were 3 kids in each boat and with a stiff offshore wind were going like bats out of hell further and further into the Atlantic. The oldest of us was 13.

Of course we were not suppose to be out there. The boats belonged to two of the kids dads, who like all the other dads worked in the city. It was a Wednesday afternoon and the first dad would not be back until at least 7PM.

It got really fun when the wind was directly behind us and we put up the spinnakers.  Not many kids our age even knew how to do that. We had been sailing for years, and we knew what to do on the water. We were real sailors.

Of course a real sailor would have looked at the sky.

thunder storms

We had been racing further out to see for almost two hours when Billy Brett suddenly pointed at the sky and shouted to the rest of us. We looked up and saw the sky was black.  We all knew that a major lightning storm was just about to hit and we were the highest objects for 20 miles in any direction, with two metal masts just daring the lightning to hit them.

The wind and rain started five minutes later with full force.

sea storm

 

The spinnakers were still up  and when the wind started picking up and continuously changing direction the boats spun around and spinnakers dipped and began filling up with sea water. The boat I was in was being dragged under by the spinnaker. Billy Brett’s boat tossed around so much that he had been thrown out and was splashing in the ocean.

The rain was coming down  hard and it felt like little needles hitting our skin. Then the lightning flashes started.  The waves were getting higher and seawater was pouring into both boats.  Billy was swimming as hard as he could, but the current kept pulling him further and further away  from us. Billy did not have a life jacket on. None of us did.

At one point the boat bounced up on a wave and I could clearly see the skyline of New York City in the far distance.  The squall was only in our area. New York was in the bright sunshine. Somewhere in those buildings our fathers were buying and selling stocks, totally unaware that their kids were about to drown.

Then I heard  the throbbing of the engine. It was a big twelve cylinder Chrysler in an old solid wooden powerboat. I had seen it around the dock lots of time but never paid much attention to it. It was owned by two old guys who were a solid as their boat.

The power boat pulled up alongside Billy and one of the men leaned  over the transom and lifted Billy to safety. The old guy had massive muscular arms with U.S. Navy tattoos on both forearms.

Once Billy was safely on board they brought the powerboat along side each of the sailboats. In a matter of minutes they had lowered the sails, bailed out the boats and tied them to tow behind the power boat. It was amazing to see real sailors work.

We kids were all shaking with cold and went to the hold of the power boat to get out of the rain.  The boys stretched out exhausted. I went to the bow where there was a rope locker and lay down on top of piles of expertly coiled rope, and dozed off. It was one of the best feelings ever. The storm raged outside, but I was safe in the strong hold of a strong ship crewed by two strong men.  It is the kind of safety that only a child can feel.

The old guys towed the Lightnings all the way back to the docks. They tied them up for us, stowed the sails ad even coiled the ropes. They never told our parents about what had happened.

rope

Then we kids stood on the dock and waved goodby to the two old guy when they motored off in their perfectly maintained ancient wooden boat with the Chrysler diesel  humming smoothly. They don’t make boats like that any more. I am not sure they make guys like that any more either.

 

 

 

 

 

The Gentle Woman Presents 5 Famous Bunnies

As the Gentle Woman was watching her new bunny romping the house this morning, she realized how much rabbits are a part of our culture and have been  for a very long time. Here is a list of 5 famous bunnies in American culture.

TORTISE AND HARE

#5 The Hare from Aesop’s Fables – “The Tortoise and the Hare”

This poor fellow does not even get a name. The Tortoise is the hero of the story. We do not know exactly when this story was first told, but we do know that Aesop was born around 620 B.C.  The story is about a race between a hare and a tortoise. The moral is all about persistence and hard work versus natural talent. The Hare should easily win, but instead runs all around exploring and having a great time then takes a relaxing nap. The Tortoise, on the other hand plods along and eventually wins the race.

The moral, of course, is that we are all supposed to be more like the Tortoise  and this story is still told to American children today.  But who wants to be a tortoise? The Gentle Woman takes a different view of this story. The race is life itself, and it is the Tortoise who is losing. The Hare has a great time exploring everything around him, plays until he is tired and then plops down for a quick nap. Anyone who has a pet bunny knows that is exactly how they behave. Maybe the real moral is that we should be more like the Hare and less like the plodding Tortoise. After all the Tortoise did not even get a prize for his “win” while the Hare got a lot of fun and a good nap.

Peter Rabbit

#4 Peter Rabbit

Many people who have bunnies as pets today do so because they first fell in love with these animals after reading the stories of Beatrix Potter. Peter first appeared in “The Tale of Peter Rabbit” in 1902 along with his siblings Flopsy, Mopsy and Cotton-Tail. This family of rabbits lived in Victorian England, wore human clothing and were always getting into trouble and adventures. Beatrix Potter wrote a beautiful series of children stories that are still loved by modern readers.

 

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#3 Roger Rabbit

Roger Rabbit is a silly and not very bright cartoon bunny, introduced to us in the 1988 film “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?”. Roger is accused of murdering Mr. Acme in a rage over Roger’s beautiful wife Jessica. As silly as Roger is however, we like him because he is basically a very good individual. He is totally in love with his wife and she is totally in love with him. As a side note it turns out that Mr. Acme was the owner of Acme Products, the company that Wile E. Coyote used to buy all the contraptions he used to try to catch the Road Runner. Considering the fact that Acme’s products never work it seems like the coyote should be the prime suspect rather than Roger Rabbit.

easter bunny

#2 The Easter Bunny

The tradition of the Easter Bunny goes back much further than most people think. It is actually a centuries old tradition. Bunnies are associated with Spring and re-birth, since wild rabbits seem to magically  re-appear after each long Winter. However, there is one downside to the tradition, and that is a lot of people still get their kids rabbits as pets on Easter. Many families do this without realizing responsibility and commitment adopting a rabbit requires. The number of rabbits found abandoned or dropped off at shelters spikes  a few months after Easter. For this reason, most good breeders will not sell rabbits just before Easter.

bugs bunny

 

 #1 Bugs Bunny

Bugs appeared as early as 1938, but he first appeared drawn as we know him today in 1940. Sure, some of the other rabbits on the list have a more ancient or glorified heritage, but Bugs is an American original. With his brash attitude and Brooklyn accent, he became world famous. As an audience we always root for him against the hunter Elmer Fudd.

Well, that’s the Gentle Woman’s list. Let us know if you think we missed any.  So if you have a pet rabbit or just love them, maybe its because rabbits have been an integral part of our culture for a very long time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Soho Summer

One of our readers asked for pictures of the streets of New York, especially Soho. The pictures below show a walk from the World Trade Center Path station up West Broadway, all the way to Soho.

SOHO IN SUMMER 024This is the newly refurbished World Trade Center Path Station.  

SOHO IN SUMMER 007This is a mural on the outside of a Mexican Restaurant on West Broadway a few blocks from Ground Zero. The painting pays tribute to the people who died on 9/11. The mural has been on the wall for so many years that the wall now also has graffiti on it.  However, notice how even the graffiti artists show enough respect for the victims that they put their “tags” on the outside edges and do not deface the mural.

SOHO IN SUMMER 008This is another view, in which you can see the sign for the restaurant.

For more on the victims of 9/11 click to read our tribute.

Continuing up West Broadway, we come to a store called Balloon Saloon, which claims to have been voted “the most fun store in New York.” Exactly when and where this vote took place they never actually say.

SOHO IN SUMMER 009They will deliver balloons anywhere in New York.

SOHO IN SUMMER 010A closer view of the balloons on display every morning.

SOHO IN SUMMER 013This graffiti covers a door next to a polished brass sigh which says, “The Goatsingers Upstairs”.  We have no idea who or what the Goatsingers are, but they seem to always keep the brass sign polished but never remove the graffiti.

SOHO IN SUMMER 014We are now in the heart of Tribeca at the Tribeca Tavern.

It is still early in the morning so it is not yet open. At night there is a line down the block just to get in. For more on Tribeca click  here to see our pictures of the Tribeca Film Festival.

SOHO IN SUMMER 015Leaving  Tribeca to get to Soho we pass through a small park, the center of which has a bear sculpture made from leaf bags.

 

SOHO IN SUMMER 016We are now in Soho itself. This is a view up West Broadway at 8:30 am

SOHO IN SUMMER 022This is the architecture for which Soho is famous.

SOHO IN SUMMER 023People crowded outside a popular restaurant in Soho. On this particular late afternoon all the bars and restaurants were crowded with people watching the World Cup of soccer.

SOHO IN SUMMER 020Last stop in Soho. If we cross West Houston street we will enter NoHo, where the NYU students give the neighborhood an entirely different feel.

Passing for Normal – An Asperger Success Story

Louis rode on the PATH and concentrated hard on acting normal. He made sure not to rock back and forth, or stare at someone he found interesting or talk to himself. His job coach had trained him how to not do any of those things, even though the urge was always there.

“Once people get to know you they will like you.  But first you have to work very hard to fit in, so that they want to get to know you, ” the coach had said.

Louis did not realize that no one on the PATH train would have actually said anything, even if he was acting strange. Louis was big and very muscular; the type people would instinctively not interfere with.

asp 8

In fact, despite his looks Louis was a very gentle soul. He was naturally big, and his job coach had encouraged him to work out at a gym. “People in good shape have an easier time getting hired,” the coach had said. “If someone looks sloppy or overweight people doing the hiring naturally think that shows a lack of discipline and they don’t want to hire that person.”

Louis had joined a health club, but had a lot of trouble at first.  Like most people with Asperger’s Syndrome, he was a little clumsy and uncoordinated.  He had trouble with the various machines, and almost gave up after a couple of trips. Then he discovered the free weights and found they were very simple to use. He just watched what the other guys did and began to really like the routine and repetition.

weights

He went to the health club at exactly the same time every day, and worked out with weights. Over the months he became extremely muscular, but that was not why he continued.  He liked the pattern.  Sticking to exact routines was how Lois coped with the stress of his existence. He had striven to replace “strange” routines like rocking or talking to himself with routines that “normal” people do like taking the train at exactly the same time every day and doing the exact same work-out routine every time at the health club. More than anything else in his life Louis wanted to fit in with the Normal people.

At the World Trade Center station, Louis got off, followed the crowd up the escalator and headed over to West Street. At 200 West Street he entered the new Goldman Sachs building for work.

Goldman Sachs

Louis loved his job at Goldman Sachs. The previous year the company had made a big push to hire special needs people and Louis could hardly believe that he got hired. “Goldman Sachs is the top of the top Louis!”, beamed the job coach. “My training really paid off for you.”

The job coach and the special needs hiring may have been the reason Louis got hired, but the patterns were the reason he was so successful at Goldman Sachs. Louis could see patterns in the market data that no one else could. He sat and looked at all the many computer screens and monitors with their flashing numbers and graphs and could sense when there was going to be a sudden shift in a market.

At first the Traders did not believe him. They did not want to hear from the “big nut job” as they referred to  him. Then after a few months they started to notice how his market calls were better than anything else they had. Better than the computer programs, better than the Traders “gut feel” and better than the other market analysts who had been doing the job for many years. They stopped referring to him as the “big nut job” and started calling him “Golden Lou”.

At company parties the Traders would try to talk to Louis and get him drinks trying to find out his secrets.  Louis hated the parties. Being in a room with a lot of people you don’t know well, and having to make  small talk is about the most stressful situation a person with Asperger’s Syndrome can go through. Still Louis attended the parties so he could pass for normal.

Although Louis loved his job he still felt  nervous and uncomfortable around all the other workers – except for Victoria.

Louis thought Victoria was wonderful, although he was too shy to tell her. She was beautiful and nice. He loved that she always called him Louis. He never called him “Lou” or “Big Lou” of “Golden Lou”or “Louie”.   She was never loud or obnoxious and never swore. Unfortunately, he knew that she never really noticed him.

In fact, Louis was wrong about Victoria. Louis could read markets perfectly, but other humans, especially women, were a mystery to him. Victoria actually liked Louis very much. She thought he was handsome and intelligent and  she understood why he had trouble fitting in.  But Victoria herself was also very shy, and did not know exactly how to approach him.

Then one day  Louis did something very uncharacteristic. Instead of  eating lunch at his desk he went  out to Godiva and purchased a box of dark semi-sweet chocolates.  He knew that it was Victoria’s birthday, and that she loved semi-sweet chocolates. He was going to take a leap and give her the box.

Godiva

But when he got back to the office and went over to her desk, it was surrounded by three other young men. One of them had an iPad and everyone was laughing at a video they were watching. It was a video of Victoria in a bikini wearing a hat with devil’s horns. She was dancing around and singing in a terrible voice. The guy with the iPad was Jimmy, the office comedian.

Louis did not know what was going on, but he could see that Victoria was not enjoying the video.  The guys were all laughing, but at her desk Victoria had her head in her hands and looked like she was about  to cry.  “Please turn it off,” she said over and over.

Louis walked up behind the guy holding the iPad.  Louis put his massive hand on Jimmy’s shoulder, bent down and said quietly in the guy’s ear.  “She told you to turn it off .” Jimmy turned around and looked up to see the deadly serious face of Louis.

“Sure Lou. No problem.” Jimmy turned off the video and he and the other guys quickly slunk  back to their work stations.

Victoria looked up with tears in her eyes and said. “My ex-boyfriend posted it. We we fooling around at a pool party and I sang ‘She’s go the devil in her heart’ with that stupid hat on. He posted it just to be mean And on my birthday too. Then he emailed some of the people here giving them the link to it .”

In his Asperger monotone voice Louis said, “I would never be mean to you. Happy Birthday.” Then Louis placed the box of chocolates on the desk and started to walk away.

But Victoria motioned for him to sit at the chair next to her. She opened the box and said, “let’s share these.”

Louis sat down and took one of the chocolates. A strange feeling came over Louis, and he realized that it was something he had never felt before.  As he and Victoria ate the candy and Victoria told funny stories about her ex-boyfriend, Louis realized what the feeling was. He realized that for the first time in his life he was completely and totally at ease being with another person. He understood what it was like to actually be normal instead of just pretending.

 

 

 

The Gentle Woman’s New Bunny’s Cousin

398641_10151327105324885_141327247_nIt turns out that the Gentle Woman’s Bunny has a cousin. Well, he is not a real cousin, but he is a floppy eared black rabbit named Pancakes who lives with the Gentle Woman’s sister. He is five years old and lives in an air-conditioned house in Florida.

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He is a very affectionate little fellow with soft luxurious fur who would be very hot without the air conditioning.

Here he is celebrating his 5th birthday.

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For those of you who know something about rabbits, don’t worry. The Gentle Woman’s sister did not actually let him eat any of the cake.

The funny thing is that the Gentle Woman did not even know that her sister had a rabbit. The Gentle Woman and Sunshine live in New Jersey and had never seen Pancakes.

It turns out there is a whole community of friendly rabbit lovers out there we never knew existed, until we started running the Gentle Woman series.

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Most people still don’t realize how much fun an indoor rabbit can be as a pet.

The Gentle Woman stories have been some of our most popular posts. If you would like us to publish a story or pictures of your rabbit or any other type of pet just e-mail the pictures to us at cedartree@live.com   We will not publish your e-mail address and will only use your name if you give us permission.

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Pancakes relaxing on a Christmas stocking. (As we all know Santa spends the off-season in Florida).

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American Innovations – book review

American Innovations is a collection of 10 beautifully crafted stories by Rivka Galchen. The stories originally appeared in the magazines The New Yorker, and Harper’s MagazineOpen City and The Walrus.

The stories are all about women in their late twenties or thirties living in New York City.  These woman find themselves under pressure and they worry. They worry a lot.

Bunny and Cat 007

Women in that age group  have a lot more stress than men. They have all the same worries as men about career and money and finding an apartment. But then they have all the added pressure of having to look good, when or whether to have children, and how they are perceived by other people.

Interestingly, the pressure does not come from men, but from other women, especially their mothers. In one story entitled “The Late Novels of Gene Hackman” the young woman in the story is a  writer who goes on a trip with her mother to accept a writing award.

The mother, instead of praising the success of her daughter says, ” I admire that you tell stories of make-believe people in worlds that don’t exist and have no relevance to how we live. That can be nice, but people also like things that are uplifting and practical.” Wow; talk about a backhanded compliment.

None of the women in these stories handles the stress very well. Their personalities are somewhere between obsessive and insane. Their thoughts have become so inwardly focused that they seem to live in their own worlds. Yet the reader likes all of the woman and wants very much for everything to work out well in their lives.

My favorite story is “Once an Empire” where the character is a a woman in her mid-thirties whose main enjoyment in life is to go out to late night movies alone. One night she gets back to her apartment at two in the morning only to find all the possessions in her apartment running away.  All the furniture, silverware, sheets and even an ironing board are climbing out of the window and marching down the street and out of her life on their own.

When her books march by her reaction is that, “My mother had never really liked my books. She’d said they kept me from real life, by which I think she meant men, or money, or both.”

The next day, her apartment is in fact totally empty and the police naturally think it is a robbery. The woman files  the usual police report, knowing what the world will think of her if she tells them the truth. She searches and eventually finds her possessions at a tag sale. Still believing  they have run away her reaction is that “What saddened me is that these things had tried to make it on their own and failed.” It seems that she is talking not so much about her possessions but about herself.

So the next time you are in New York and a beautiful young woman passes by completely absorbed in her own thoughts, don’t be jealous. Those thoughts may be  a lot more complex and troubled than you may imagine.

 

 

The Martian – book review

The Martian is a wonderfully detailed  debut  novel by Andy Weir.  It takes place in the near future when NASA has begun to send astronauts to explore Mars and live on the surface for several weeks at a time.

MARS

 

One such mission is cut short when a major dust storm forces the crew to abandon the surface habitat and leave Mars early. However tragedy strikes when one of the astronauts, Mark Watney, is hit by flying debris and killed before getting into the escape vehicle. Due to the severity of the storm the other astronauts are forced to leave Mark’s body behind and just barely get off the surface themselves.  They then begin the long flight back to earth saddened and depressed at the death of a fellow crew member.

But Mark is not dead. The objects that smashed into him during the storm only  injured him. More importantly they damaged the computer components in his space suit that send constant signals to the other astronauts monitoring  his physical health. The damaged computer was sending out signals indicating he was dead.

With the departure of the spaceship, Mark finds himself alone on Mars.  He cannot even communicate with the spaceship on its way back to earth since the storm destroyed all the satellite dishes and antenna.

Mark must now find a way to survive and some way to communicate to NASA that he is still alive and needs to be rescued.  He has a habitat that was designed for a whole crew, but the food, water and oxygen were only schedules to last for weeks.

Even if Mark finds a way to let people know he survived it will take more than a year for any rescue party to arrive. The spaceship on its way back to Earth could not rescue him even if he could contact it. Spaceships are just not designed to turn around mid-flight. They are designed to blast off then cruise in one direction.

Tom Hanks

 

In many ways this is like a high-tech Tom Hanks in Castaway.  With no outside help, Mark has to find a way to turn every item and piece of junk around him into a tool to help him stay alive for another day.

This is an enjoyable, clever and well written story.

 

The Gentle Woman’s New Bunny Explores

Sunshine the bunny has now settled in to his new home and has taken to exploring the house. He is fascinated with the cat, who is not really sure what this little creature is.

Bunny and Cat 004Sunshine hiding by the fireplace.

Bunny and Cat 015Sunshine playing with the cat’s tail.

Bunny and Cat 013Sunshine scoots off after tweaking the cat’s tail

Bunny and Cat 017Tuckered out after running around the house, Sunshine  takes a rest while Lubby the cat watches over him

Bunny and Cat 003Don’t forget to pay attention to me too.

Bunny and Cat 011The Gentle Woman joins Sunshine in his enclosure for a salad.

The Near Sighted Caddy

The following story is true, as is Woodway Country Club. The names of the golfers have been changed.

When Greg was 12 his father insisted Greg get a summer job.  Since Greg was small and skinny, the father wanted  the job to  be something healthy and outdoors. The dad  was delighted when Greg jot a job as a caddy at Woodway Country Club in Stamford Connecticut. Greg’s dad told him it would be a good way to not only develop himself, but to see how adults behaved in the real world. Greg did  both, but in a way his dad had anticipated.

Woodway was an old fashioned sort of club that still required caddies. Golfers could ride in carts if they wanted, but most preferred to walk. The course was beautifully designed in such a way that except for the First and the 18th hole you were completely out of site of the club house.

An experienced caddy got six dollars for lugging the bag around 18 holes. A newbie like Greg only got five dollars. But there were perks. On the ninth hole there was a little outdoor bar the golfers stopped at. Tradition had it that the golfers would buy cokes for the caddies. So the caddies got to sit in the grass and drink cokes while the golfers sat at tables on  the patio sipping beers and Gin & Tonics.

There was also the matter of tips. Each golfer tipped his own caddy (there were almost no women players). The tip was a big deal. Getting a one or two dollar tip meant a lot if your total pay was only five dollars. But the tips varied tremendously. Some players gave zero and some gave as much as ten or ever twenty dollars. It all depended on whether the golfer had won or lost.

Now would probably be a good time to mention that the golfers bet on the rounds. And they bet a lot of money. They bet on who would have the overall lowest score. They had side bets on the outcome of particular holes. They bet on whether a player could make a particular shot.

That’s when Greg discovered the first rule of adults. That their personalities completely changed when money was involved. The greater the amount of money the more their personalities changed.  Doctors, lawyers and other respected members of the community would smash clubs, scream, jump up and down if they missed a shot. The second rule of adults turned out to be that they did not take responsibility for their own mistakes.  Any error was instantly blamed on the caddy.  A missed drive was because the caddy had distracted the player. A missed putt was due to the caddy’s shadow on the green. For five dollars a player got a whipping boy for 18 holes. Caddies were trained to take all this abuse in silence. It was just an accepted part of the job.

The worst mistake an caddy could make was to lose a ball. A gofer would hit a ball into the rough or the woods or the edge of a water hazard and expect the caddy to know exactly where it was. Most of the caddies were great at this. Greg was not. He actually needed glasses but did not know it.  Up close he could see things just fine. Reading books was no problem. At school he sat in the first row so reading the board was no problem. But that summer he found out that he could not see things far away very well.

When a golfer hit a long drive, other caddies would spot the ball going into the distance and note exactly where it landed. For Greg, the ball would go off into the sky and when it got far enough away it simply disappeared.

After the golfers hit their tee shots the caddy’s job was to run down to where the ball was and stand next to it with the golf bag. Greg would run extra fast into the direction he thought the ball went and hope to find it. After all, how hard could it be to find a white ball on a field of green? Unfortunately, there are a lot of small while objects on a golf course.  Little pieces of paper, gum wrappers, even a dandelion with white seeds  all look like golf balls until you get up close.

Most of the time Greg could scurry around and find the ball. Then one day he lost one and a very large middle aged male golfer screamed at him for a full five minutes until another caddy found it. At the end of the day the golfer made sure to not only not give Greg a tip but to show Greg he was giving a tip to the other caddy who had found the ball. Greg swore he would never let that sort of humiliation  happen again. No matter what.

Golf bags are amazing contraptions. They have all sorts of pockets and zippers and hidden flaps.  When the golfers are not looking, or are drinking at the 9th hole bar, the caddies search through all of the pockets just to see what is in there. One caddy claimed that  in Doctor O’Toole’s bag he once found a naked picture of the doctor’s beautiful young second wife. All of the other caddies called “bullshit”, but after that they tried to caddy for Dr. O’Toole whenever they could. Mr. Wilson told all the other golfers he had given up smoking but there was always at least one pack of cigarettes tucked away in his bag somewhere.

There were a lot of golf related items in the bags too. Extra tees, rags for wiping clubs, small tools to tighten cleats, but especially lots of extra golf balls. It was these extra golf balls that were soon to make Greg the most successful caddy at Woodway.

The first instance was during an an oppressively hot Saturday when Greg was caddying for Mr. Saunders who was a mediocre player at best. As usual, the players were betting big bucks. There was a side-bet on the 12th hole and it looked like Saunders actually had a chance to win it. Then he hit a drive that hooked off high and out of site. The fairway had a dog leg to the left, so a hook on a tee shot might actually turn out to be a good thing. There was no way to tell from the tee.  If the ball had gone left just a little it was a great shot. If it had hooked a lot then it would have gone into the woods.

The caddies all ran down to find the balls, carrying the golf bags with them. The other three caddies went off the the right since the other players had sliced. Greg found himself alone and saw no trace of the ball. It might  have gone into the woods. On the other hand it could be in the rough at the edge of the fairway.

Something in Greg snapped. He just could not take having another six foot adult scream at him inches from his face for losing a golf ball. While the players and other golfers were still out of site he reached in the bag and pulled out a spare golf ball. He walked back into a good position on the fairway and surreptitiously dropped the ball and stood next to it with the bag.

Mr. Saunders was delighted with his great shot. The other players congratulated him. His confidence got such a boost that he not only won the hole, but he ended the day winning the entire round. At the end of the day Mr. Saunders gave Greg a ten dollar tip.

Greg told himself that this would be a one-time occurrence, but of course, it was not. Taking a ball out of a bag and dropping it in a good position became sort of like an addiction. Golfers stopped yelling at him. In fact some of them started specifically requesting Greg as their caddy. The tips were big every day. There was also the adrenalin rush of getting away with it.  He no longer searched very hard for lost balls. It was so much easier to cheat and pull one out of the bag.

It got to the point where he started moving the ball even when he did not have to. Greg would find the player’s ball in the rough and before everyone else got there he would use his foot to kick it back into the fairway. A ball would be right next to a tree in an impossible lie and he would move it to the other side of the tree.

Did the players know? At first Greg thought he was getting away with something. But as he got to know more about the game of golf he began to think they must have known.  A player knows how good he is. A player can feel if a tee shot was good or bad. But none of the players ever said anything or made any accusations. They would end the round and give Greg a big tip. Once or twice Greg was sure that a player he had cheated for gave him a little smile or nod. But maybe that was all in Greg’s imagination.

The summer ended and so did Greg’s days as a caddy. That winter he got a pair of glasses.  Looking back Greg realized that his dad was right. The summer job did make Greg develop, and  teach him a lot about how people behaved in the real world. Maybe too much.