I heard something on the radio that made me smile

I heard something on the radio that made me smile

So four days after I got busted for speeding, I backed my wife’s car into a tree and did nearly $850 worth of damage.

Coupled with the more than $200 fine I got hit with on the way to the Outer Banks two weeks ago, that means that it’s costing me nearly $500 every time I leave the house.

That’s why I spent last weekend doing nothing but watching Tiger Woods win the Masters and the Cathedral of Notre Dame burn.

Guess which one brought me to tears?

Yep, that’s right.

While the rest of the country got all emotional about a serial cheater/liar hit a little white ball with a stick, I remained curiously detached from the made-for-TV dramady, thinking I was on an island being the only guy hoping for someone else — anyone else — to wear the green jacket.

Or as my wife put it, “Has Tiger put on his red coat yet?”

I love not only my wife, but also being married to her, yet I was stunned by this question.

“What are you talking about?”

“You know,” she said, “the time you start crying every year.”


Yet her reaction was typical of American women who seemed to forget the sex-and-drug addicted behavior that stranded Eldrick Woods in the pariah’s forest of exile in the first place, acting as if all was forgiven and everyone who remembered was a beastly cad.

Tiger Woods simply outlasted everyone else in the field. He didn’t play particularly well. He just waited until the competition committed communal hara-kiri on the 12th hole and then just strolled into the Butler Cabin to reclaim his birthright.

Which is fine. Patience is a virtue, especially for a vulture.

But barely bogeying the final hole to avert a playoff he might easily have lost — he’s an old 43, surgically speaking — isn’t exactly like rolling in a 30-footer to cap a career comeback.

But give him his due. He kept saying he’d be back, and he did it.

Now and for the foreseeable future, Tiger is all golf will talk about.

He — to use an outdated yet popular metaphor — moves the needle, and that’s what it’s all about anymore: clicks and clouds and platforms and trends and eyeballs.

It’s like a mutant Mister Potato Head toy, the one I wasn’t allowed to get for my sixth birthday because Mom thought either my sister or my brother might accidentally swallow an ear and choke to death.

So I had to settle for a pair of slipper-socks. Remember those? They were all the rage around the time NASA was getting close to putting a man in space, even as the Soviets were already in orbit.

I heard something on the radio the other day that made me smile. Seems as if America’s next mission to the moon might be about retrieving all the stuff we left stranded on the lunar surface including 26 sealed packages of human waste, courtesy of Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin.

That’s one small dump for man, one giant bag of crap for mankind.

Speaking of scatological humor and all things hysterical, I happened upon my first copy of “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” the other day. Its fragile paperback spine was snapped decades ago, and its pages would fly free in the wind were I ever to take it outside, but Hunter Thompson’s prose remains an essential ingredient in the bubbling — perhaps toxic — stew that is my life.

Pick a chapter — any chapter — and your world will tilt on its axis.

One minute you’re in the desert with bats swooping down all around you, and the next you’re trying to cling to your sanity as the Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit” hits its crescendo.

Or you’re driving manically to make a getaway flight, crashing through fencing as you approach the tarmac, and then you’re basking in one of the book’s basic truths: “Don’t take any guff from these swine.”

It’s sometimes essential to be grounded in the good doctor’s advice.

Life’s hard enough without being able to stand up against abuse.

Which brings us back to the damage I caused when speeding in reverse, around midnight, trying to get to work on time. Our driveway is bordered on either side by scraggly — but well-rooted — trees, neither of which is especially attractive and both of which we could easily do without.

They stand like greedy sentries, just waiting for you to steer poorly, turning a micro-second’s bad judgment into months of paying a steep bill that you never anticipated and surely cannot afford.

When you screw up on a computer, you can always hit the undo button. Suddenly all is well again, and it’s like it never happened.

In real life, however, there is no Control Z.

You are beyond the time-space continuum, and all you can do is drive the car to a fix-it guy who will invariably gouge you.

“Seriously?” I asked after he’d handed me his estimate, which might have fed a family of five in Finland for a year. “All I did was break that plastic guard over the taillight: a few scratches, maybe.”

“Hey, pal,” he said, “you can always go someplace else.”

And there’s the rub.

Who wants to get back into that sewer after having survived it once?

All you can do is say, “Thank you, sir,” and take the blow.

It’s only money, right? At least I have my health, though I’ve been battling a crippling chest cold and monstrous tooth pain for weeks.

As T.S. Eliot has written, “April is the cruelest month.”

And in this, my personal wasteland, all I needed was to see one of the Catholic church’s landmarks, the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, burning into the night, everyone stunned, helpless to end it.

At the start of Holy Week, no less.

I couldn’t stop my tears.

With apologies to that popular Christmas carol and with full, enviable and compassionate appreciation that your life has to be better than mine, I’d like to suggest that we need a little Easter, right this very minute.

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