July 16, 2020

….for their 30th anniversary golf weekend starting tomorrow, while my thoughts will be with them, I’m pretty damned happy at my decision to beg out of this year’s festivities given all the mask-wearing travel amongst scaredy-cats who don’t realize just how they’re all being played by the national media. As those who frequent this outpost in the blogsphere are well aware, I’ve never bought into the COVID-19 hysteria, believing that (a) had “blue state” governors not condemned to death tens of thousands of elderly people to their deaths we would have death numbers quite close to an average flu season, (b) if our political intelligencia had been privy to more realistic data than the bogus models of “experts” predicting millions of U.S. deaths, and (c) if the COVID-19 responses by certain elected officials (and most especially the mainstream media) hadn’t been politicized to the nth degree by false reporting and hyped-up hysteria I might actually be in Massachusetts today getting ready to join the Goodboys to commemorate this august achievement.

Thirty years is a long time. I was 34 years old – 34! – when the “founding fathers” first went to Bethel, Maine for an overnight / 2 rounds of golf thing. At that point there were no “Goodboys” per se (not sure how many years later that name came about), but it wasn’t that many. Back then, Tracey and I had our cats Rascal and Bandit, and the idea of having rabbits as pets would still be a good nine years and a move to Louisville, Kentucky later.

Thirty years is a long time. George H.W. Bush was president, and right about the time the “founders” were gathering at Bethel, Arkansas governor Bill Clinton was announcing he would run for the presidency the following year. Ian Woosnam was the reigning Masters champion, Payne Stewart had won his iconic U.S. Open victory, Ian Baker-Finch – Ian Baker-Finch! – had won the British Open, and a brash newcomer named John Daly had surprised at the PGA. Music-wise, nothing much was happening. Don’t believe me? Look at the names on this list. OMG.

Back in those days (when men were men) there was as much legendary drinking as there was golf. For the first eight years, northern New England was the primary destination before the “first infusion” of new blood ushered in the Cape Cod era which lasted quite a long time. Lots of great memories there. Over the past decade or so (and yet another infusion of new blood), the ‘Boys have been splitting time between Portsmouth and Plymouth, and the renewing of acquaintances and the retelling of – to coin a phrase from Jimmy Buffett – “short stories with long laughs” has taken greater precedence over the rather impressive drinking exploits of the days of yore.

Most of the Goodboys remain like brothers (or at least distant cousins) to me. I’ll never forget “Vegas” Clark making a 2 hour drive from his home on the Cape to pay his respects at my brother Mark’s wake. My mom never forgot that amazing gesture as long as she lived. Same holds true for the year my mom passed away, when all the stress and strain of the previous six months came pouring out of me at the Goodboys in 2016; the guys (and particularly my partner “Doggy Duval” McLaughlin, who experienced it all first-hand) helped me get through the weekend when it was hard keeping it all together. I will never forget these acts of kindness and true brotherhood.

Somewhere along the line, however, the shine started wearing off on it all. Just being back in New England and familiar surroundings became more important than the Goodboys tradition. Using the time to visit my folks (watching the first round of the British Open on Thursday mornings over coffee with my mom and dad is a precious memory), the Thursday night “Christmas Eve” tradition of the Green Meadow driving range and dinner with my closest GB friends, and then watching the Sox and the British Open with a few of the guys – or even with perfect strangers – at local establishments became more important than the tradition I was back there for. It’s not that the guys (at least the vast majority of them) were a problem, I had changed and the tradition just started getting a little old and stale for me. Simply put, it became more of an obligation than anything else, most especially given certain personality conflicts I just wasn’t willing to try and reconcile.

Not that my absence this year is a bad thing: traditions need to evolve with new people flowing in to give them renewed energy and a sense of purpose. I’m sure that if the guys want to continue the tradition going forward they’ll undoubtedly find a way to make it work and keep it working. I’m not closing the door on any future participation, mind you: no one knows what the future holds; but I’m now on the outside looking in, and I don’t feel bad about it. The Goodboys will go on fine without me, they deserve participants who will keep the positive energy going, and I’m just not able (or willing) to do that given the present state of things. It’s just not worth the emotional time and effort.

I suppose the question will be raised regarding the name of this website. To be truthful about it, I haven’t thought much of what (if anything) to do with it. It’s just a name, after all. For the foreseeable future things will remain as is – I’m not going anywhere. But if I decided to do something y’all will be the first to know!

To be honest, I’m feeling rather sentimental about the whole thing. I’ll miss my Goodboys friends, but, in the words of George Harrison, “all things must pass”. So with the guys gathering together tomorrow – and keeping with the spirit in which this post is written, I’ve chosen this gentle Jimmy Buffett ballad as my own personal message:

Just outside the harbor
All the ships asleep
Maybe one cold watchman
Walks a lonely beat
And way out on the water
A ship is under sail
Leaving wavy starlight
And a dreamer in her trail

I wave bye bye
I pray Godspeed
I wish you lovely weather
More luck than you’ll need
You’ll only sail in circles
So there’s no need to cry
Oh, I’ll see you again one day
And then I waved bye bye

A sailing ship reminds me
Of a certain girl
Who left a certain dreamer
To sail into her world
I’ve very friendly postcards
From very far away
But they just remind me
Of a certain day

When I waved bye bye
I prayed Godspeed
I wished you lovely weather
More luck than you’ll need
We only sail in circles
So there’s no need to cry
Yes, I’ll see you again one day
And then I’ll wave bye bye

My best wishes to the Goodboys for a fun and successful 30th anniversary weekend – I’ll be thinking of y’all while I’m staking shelves with pool chemicals and performing water tests. Enjoy that round on me, and may the best team win!

Filed in: Goodboys by The Great White Shank at 01:23 | Comments (0)
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