The other day I awoke to find a golf ball in my driveway. I found that a bit odd as I live about 4 miles from the nearest golf course—making my home safe from even a Tiger Woods’ like errant shot. Naturally I was curious as to how the golf ball arrived in my driveway. Being the pessimistic sort I figured that it had arrived in the usual way—drawn to earth by gravity after being hit with a club. I set out to look for the “ball mark”. A walk around my newish truck confirmed my suspicions—a big freaking dent in the side of the bed.
When I saw the dent I was pretty angry and I wanted to find the culprit and shove the ball down his throat and then use his head to pound out the dent. I thought to myself; “what kind of pinhead drives a golf ball down a residential street, don’t they know they could kill someone?” The answer came immediately—me. Not me now of course. Now I’m a semi-responsible adult with a wife, kid, mortgage and car payment—me as an errant teenager.
It all came back pretty clearly; I was hitting plastic balls in the back yard when suddenly it occurred to me that hitting a real ball would be more satisfying. I pulled an old ball and a nine iron from the bag and launched the ball from our .08 acre lot randomly into the atmosphere. Adults get urges to do things like this (at least I do) but we only think about them wistfully, 16-year-olds just fire away—consequences be damned.
You’ve heard of “Pay it Forward” where a kind deed gets passed on and it just keeps growing until there are no more nuclear missiles, wars, or drivers on cell phones? Well the dent in my truck was “Pay it Back”, one of my old misdemeanors returning to punish me. Part of me wondered if this golf ball was the same one I hit decades ago—perhaps it stayed in orbit waiting for me to buy a nice truck, and then bam! Payback.
Of course, I knew it wasn’t the same ball because that ball landed in the yard of someone with anger management issues. In addition to his anger management problem, the guy with my golf ball was also bad at geometry. He miscalculated the trajectory of the ball and mistakenly confronted my next-door neighbor, Mr. Williams, who gruffly told Mr. Anger Management (who in his haste to return my ball had impaled his leg on a fence post) to quit bleeding all over his porch.
Now at 16, I might not have been the brightest ball in the bag, but I was smart enough to know that if you wantonly launch a golf ball into the neighborhood it’s a good idea to put the clubs away and go for a ride. I went unpunished for my action as Mr. Williams was kind enough to not correct the neighbor’s geometric miscalculation and rat me out. Decades later I'm wondering; is it payback time for me? If so I hope the golf ball dent is the extent of my “reward”.
Sadly, the wanton golf ball was not the only misdemeanor for which I went unpunished as a youth. If everything I did back then starts paying me back, my insurance agent will no longer be my friend. I think there may still be people in the old neighborhood who enter my name in the online “County Prisoner Information Search” hoping to get a match.
Even though the statute of limitations has expired I can’t divulge all of the details of my transgressions as my son reads these posts and I don’t want him getting any ideas. Furthermore, after my wife told me she might not have consented to marriage had she known everything I did as a teenager, I started talking more about my experiences as a Boy Scout (not the story where the leaders threatened to court-martial me and demote me to Tenderfoot—just the good turn daily and stuff like that).
I’m hoping that the golf ball dent is the extent of my payback. After all I’ve grown up and try and kept oscillations from the straight and narrow to a minimum. I’ll forgive the knucklehead who dented my truck, after all I myself am the beneficiary of forgiveness—that and the statute of limitations.