The Scoffer who Fell Hard and the Woman Sitting by
One day in the pink dawn of the present Century, a man with his Hair neatly set back around the Ears and the usual Blood Pressure was whizzing through a suburban Lonesomeness on a teetering Trolley. The name of the man was Mr. Pallzey. He had a desk with a Concern that did merchandizing in a large way.
Mr. Pallzey feared Socialism and carried his Wife’s Picture in his Watch and wore Plasters. In other words, he was Normal, believing nearly everything that appeared in the Papers.
While the Dog-Fennel was softly brushing the Foot-Board and the Motor was purring consistently beneath, Mr. Pallzey looked over into a close-cropped Pasture and became the alert Eye-Witness of some very weird Doings.
He saw a pop-eyed Person in soiled Négligé, who made threatening movements toward something concealed in the White Clover, with a Weapon resembling the iron Dingus used in gouging the Clinkers from a Furnace.
“What is the plot of the Piece?” he inquired of a Grand Army man, sitting next.
“I think,” replied the Veteran, “I think he is killing a Garter Snake.”
“Oh, no,” spoke up the conversational Conductor, “He is playing Golluf,” giving the word the Terre Haute pronunciation.
Mr. Pallzey looked with pity on the poor Nut who was out in the Hot Sun, getting himself all lathered up with One-Man Shinny.
He said to G. A. R. that it took all kinds of People to make a World. The grizzled Warrior rose to an equal Altitude by remarking that if the dag-goned Loon had to do it for a Living, he’d think it was Work.
Mr. Pallzey had heard of the new Diversion for the Idle Rich, just as people out in the Country hear of Milk-Sickness or falling Meteors, both well authenticated but never encountered.
While rummaging through the Sporting Page, he would come across a cryptic Reference to MacFearson of Drumtochtie being 3 up and 2 to play on Hargis of Sunset Ho, whereupon he would experience a sense of annoyance and do a quick Hurdle.
He had seen in various Shop-Windows the spindly Utensils and snowy Pellets which, he had reason to believe, were affiliated in some way with the sickening Fad. He would look at them with extreme Contempt and rather resent their contaminating contiguity to the Mask, the Shin-Guard, and the upholstered Grabber.
Mr. Pallzey believed that Golf was played by the kind of White Rabbits who March in Suffrage Parades, wearing Gloves.
The dreaded Thing lay outside of his Orbit and beyond his Ken, the same as Tatting or Biology. His conception of a keen and sporty game was Pin Pool or Jacks Only with the Deuce running wild.
One Sunday he was invited out to a Food Saturnalia at a Country Place. The Dinner was postponed until late in the Day because they all dreaded it so much.
Friend Host said he had a twosome on at the Club and was trying out an imported Cleek, so he invited Mr. Pallzey to be a Spectator.
If he had said that he was going up in a Balloon to hemstitch a couple of Clouds, it would have sounded just as plausible to Mr. Pallzey of the Wholesale District.
The latter went along, just out of Politeness, but he was a good deal disappointed in his Friend. It certainly did seem trifling for a Huskie weighing one hundred and eighty to pick on something about the size of a Robin’s Egg.
Mr. Pallzey played Gallery all around the Course. He would stand behind them at the Tee and smile in a most calm and superior Manner while they sand-shuffled and shifted and jiggled and joggled and went through the whole calisthenic Ritual of St. Vitus.
He was surprised to note how far the Ball would speed when properly spanked, but he thought there was no valid excuse for overrunning on the Approaches.
Mr. Pallzey found himself criticizing the Form of the Players. That should have been his Cue to climb the Fence.
All of the Mashiemaniacs start on the downward Path by making Mind-Plays and getting under Bogey.
Back on the sloping Sward between No. 18 and the Life-Saving Station, the two Contestants were holding the usual Post-Mortem.
“Let me see that Dewflicker a minute,” said Mr. Pallzey, as he carelessly extracted a Mid-iron.
He sauntered up to the silly Globule and look an unpremeditated Swipe. The Stroke rang sweet and vibrant. The ball rose in parabolic Splendor above the highest branches of a venerable Elm.
Just as the Face of the Club started on the Follow Through, the Bacillus ran up and bit Mr. Pallzey on the Leg.
He saw the blinking White Spot far out on the emerald Plain. He heard the murmur of Admiration behind him. He was sorry his Wife had not been there to take it in.
“Leave me have another Ball,” requested Mr. Pallzey.
The Virus was working.
He backed up so as to get a Running Start.
“This time,” quoth Mr. Pallzey, “I will push it to Milwaukee.”
Missing the Object of Attack by a scant six inches, he did a Genée toe-spin and fell heavily with his Face among the Dandelions.
The Host brushed him off and said: “Your Stance was wrong; your Tee was too high; you raised the Left Shoulder; you were too rapid on the Come-Back; the Grip was all in the Left Hand; you looked up; you moved your Head at the top of the Stroke; you allowed the Left Knee to turn, and you stood ahead of the Ball. Otherwise, it was a Loo-Loo.”
“If I come out next Sunday could you borrow me a Kit of Tools?” asked Mr. Pallzey. He was twitching violently and looking at the Ball as if it had called him a Name. “I got that first one all right, and I think——”
So it was arranged that the poor doomed Creature was to appear on the following Sabbath and be equipped with a set of Cast-Offs and learn all about the Mystery of the Ages between 11 A.M. and 2 P.M.
Mr. Pallzey went away not knowing that he was a Marked Man.
On Monday he told the Stenographer how he stung the Ball the first time up. He said he was naturally quick at picking up any kind of a Game. He thought it would be a Lark to get the hang of the Whole Business and then get after some of those Berties in the White Pants.
He figured that Golf would be soft for any one who had played Baseball when young.
Truly all the raving is not done within the Padded Cells.
He came home in the Sabbath Twilight, walking on his Ankles and babbling about a Dandy Drive for the Long Hole.
Regarding the other 378 Strokes he was discreetly silent.
He told his Wife there was more in it than one would suppose. The Easier the Swat, the greater the Carry. And he had made one Hole in seven.
Then he took a Parasol out of the Jar, and illustrated the famous Long Drive with Moving Pictures, Tableaux, Delsarte, and some newly acquired technical Drivel, which he mouthed with childish Delight.
Now we see him buying Clubs, although he refers to them as Sticks—proving that he is still a groping Neophyte.
He thinks that a shorter Shaft and more of a Lay-Back will enable him to drive a Mile. The Gooseneck Putter will save him two on every Hole. Also, will the Man please show him an Iron guaranteed to reach all the way down to the Dimple and plunk it right in the Eye.
Then all of the new Implements laid out at Home and Wife sitting back, listening to a Lecture as to what will be pulled off on the succeeding Day of Rest.
She had promised at the Altar to Love, Honor, and Listen. Still, it was trying to see the once-loved Adult cavorting on the verge of Dementia and know that she was helpless.
He sallied forth with those going to Early Mass, and returned at the Vesper Hour caked with Dust and 98 per cent. gone in the Turret.
It seems that at the sixth hole on the Last Round where you cross the Crick twice, he fell down and broke both Arms and both Legs. So he tore up the Medal Score, gave all the Clubs to the Caddy, and standing on the grassy Summit of the tall Ridge guarding the Bunker, he had lifted a grimy Paw and uttered the Vow of Renunciation.
In other words, he was Through.
The senile Wrecks and the prattling Juveniles, for whom the Game was invented, could have his Part of it for all time.
Never again would he walk on the Grass or cook his Arms or dribble Sand all over the dark and trampled Ground where countless Good Men had suffered.
So next day he bought all the Paraphernalia known to the Trade, and his name was put up at a Club.
It was one of those regular and sure-enough Clubs. High East Winds prevailed in the Locker-Room. Every member was a Chick Evans when he got back to the nineteenth hole.
Mr. Pallzey now began to regard the Ancient and Honorable Pastime as a compendium of Sacraments, Ordeals, Incantations, and Ceremonial Formalities.
He resigned himself into the Custody of a professional Laddie with large staring Knuckles and a Dialect that dimmed all the memories of Lauder.
In a short time the Form was classy, but the Score had to be taken out and buried after every Round.
Mr. Pallzey saw that this Mundane Existence was not all Pleasure. He had found his Life-Work. The Lode-Star of his declining Years would be an even one hundred for the eighteen Flags.
Wife would see him out in the Street, feeling his way along, totally unmindful of his Whereabouts. She would lead him into the Shade, snap her Fingers, call his Name, and gradually pull him out of the Trance.
He would look at her with a filmy Gaze and smile faintly, as if partly remembering and then say: “Don’t forget to follow through. Keep the head down—tight with the left—no hunching—pivot on the hips. For a Cuppy Lie, take the Nib. If running up with the Jigger, drop her dead. The full St. Andrews should not be thrown into a Putt. Never up, never in. Lift the flag. Take a pickout from Casual Water but play the Roadways. To overcome Slicing or Pulling, advance the right or left Foot. Schlaffing and Socketing may be avoided by adding a hook with a top-spin or vice versa. The Man says there are twenty-six Things to be remembered in Driving from the Tee. One is Stance. I forget the other twenty-five.”
Then the Partner of his Joys and Sorrows, with the accent on the Debit Side, would shoot twenty Grains of Asperin into him and plant him in the Flax.
Next morning at Breakfast he would break it to her that the Brassie had developed too much of a Whip and he had decided to try a forty-inch Shaft.
They had Seasoned Hickory for Breakfast, Bunkers for Luncheon, and the Fair Green for Dinner.
As a matter of course they had to give up their comfortable Home among the Friends who had got used to them and move out to a strawboard Bungalow so as to be near the Execution Grounds.
Mrs. Pallzey wanted to do the White Mountains, but Mr. Pallzey needed her. He wanted her to be waiting on the Veranda at Dusk, so that he could tell her all about it, from the preliminary Address to the final Foozle.
Sometimes he would come home enveloped in a foglike Silence which would last beyond early Candle Lighting, when he would express the Opinion that the Administration at Washington had proved a Failure.
Perhaps the very next Evening he would lope all the way up the Gravel and breeze into her presence, smelling like a warm gust of Air from Dundee.
He would ask her to throw an Amber Light on the Big Hero. He would call her “Kid” and say that Vardon had nothing on him. Her man was the Gink to show that Pill how to take a Joke.
Then she would know that he had won a Box of Balls from Mrs. Talbot’s poor old crippled Father-in-Law.
She could read him like a Barometer. If he and Mr. Hilgus, the Real Estate Man, came home together fifteen feet apart, she would know it had been a Jolly Day on the Links.
By the second summer, Mr. Pallzey had worked up until he was allowed to use a Shower Bath once hallowed by the presence of Jerome Travers.
He was not exactly a Duffer. He was what might be called a sub-Duffer, or Varnish, which means that the Committee was ashamed to mark up the Handicap.
He still had a good many superfluous Hands and Feet and was bleeding freely on every Green.
Sometimes he would last as far as the Water-Hazard and then sink with a Bubbling Cry.
Notwithstanding which, he kept on trying to look like the Photographs of Ouimet.
If he spun into the High Spinach off at the Right it was Tough Luck. If he whanged away with a Niblick down in a bottomless Pit, caromed on a couple of Oaks, and finally angled off toward the Cup, he would go around for Days talking about Some Shot.
As his Ambition increased, his Mental Arithmetic became more and more defective and his Moral Nature was wholly atrophied.
As an Exponent of the more advanced Play he was a Fliv, but as a Matchmaker he was a Hum-Dinger.
He knew he was plain pastry for the Sharks, so he would hang around the first Tee waiting to cop out a Pudding.
One day he took on Mrs. Olmstead’s Infant Son, just home from Military School.
The tender Cadet nursed him along to an even-up at the Punch-Bowl and then proceeded to smear His vital Organs all over the Bad Lands. That evening Mr. Pallzey told her she would have to cut down on Household Expenses.
Six years after he gave up the Business Career and consecrated himself to something more Important, Mr. Pallzey had so well mastered the baffling Intricacies that he was allowed to trail in a Foursome with the President of the Club. This happened once.
It is well known that any Person who mooches around a Country Club for a sufficient Period will have some kind of a Cup wished on to him.
Fourteen years after Mr. Pallzey threw himself into it, Heart and Soul, and when the Expenses approximated $30,000, he earned his Halo.
One evening he came back to his haggard Companion, chortling infant-wise, and displayed something which looked like an Eye-Cup with Handles on it.
He said it was a Trophy. It was a Consolation Offering for Maidens with an allowance of more than eighteen.
After that their daily Life revolved around the $2 bargain in Britannia. Mrs. Pallzey had to use Metal Polish on it to keep it from turning black.
When the Visitors lined up in front of the Mantel and gazed at the tiny Shaving Mug, the Cellar Champion of the World would regale them with the story of hair-breadth ‘Scapes and moving Adventures by Gravel Gulleys and rushing Streams on the Memorable Day when he (Pallzey) had put the Blocks to Old Man McLaughlin, since deceased.
Then he would ask all present to feel of his Forearm, after which he would pull the Favorite One about Golf adding ten years to his life.
Mrs. Pallzey would be sitting back, pouring Tea, but she never chimed in with any Estimate as to what had been the effect on her Table of Expectations. Moral: Remain under the Awning.
The Scoffer who Fell Hard – Ade’s Fables