Heaven is only nine holes away

I get a lot of million-dollar ideas. I get them all the time. Why, if I had a dime for every million-dollar idea I’ve ever had, I’d be a millionaire. But someone’s always out there ready to squash your dream, always ready to give you some song and dance about how it will never work, always pooh-poohing an idea because no one else is doing it. Of course, no one else is doing it – they didn’t have the idea.

A few years ago, Willie Nelson started driving to his concert dates on a bus that burned biofuel. Everybody laughed and said he was crazy. Well, he is crazy, but what’s that got to do with biofuel? They’re not laughing now.

When banks started giving out half-million-dollar mortgages to people with no down payment, no income and no assets, I don’t remember anyone calling it a crazy idea. I kind of wish Willie Nelson had thought of it. People would have laughed at him, called him crazy and maybe we’d be spared some of this mess we’re in.

My crazy idea hit me while I was out playing golf awhile back. I took a vicious cut with my 5-iron, the ball hit a tree, came straight back and hit my partner, John, right in the forehead. He dropped like a bag of bricks.

It was right then that I got a million-dollar idea. You never know what’s going to trigger a million-dollar idea – having your bathtub overflow, having an apple fall on your head, spilling hot coffee in your lap, knocking your golf buddy senseless – it’s just a random thing.

As I stood over John’s body it came to me – cemetery golf courses. Today, the trend in golf courses is to build them in the middle of housing developments. You’ve seen the places I’m talking about: big, expensive houses surrounding meticulously manicured golf courses. It’s like living in park except for the weekly smashing of a window and walking out in your back yard and finding a guy wearing plaid shorts, a knee brace, a polo shirt and a baseball cap digging through your azaleas with the business end of a golf club.

It surprised me to learn that many of the people who buy these houses don’t even play golf. I guess at night it’s pretty quiet. But as I’m thinking of dragging John’s lifeless body to the nearest house to call for help, another thought hit me. In the big cathedrals and churches in Europe, they bury important people right in the church. You look down to discover the large piece of slate you’re standing on is actually a tombstone. You jump aside only to land on another one. The bodies are under the floor, in the walls. I never did find out what you had to do to get buried in the church floor, but I’m pretty sure that whatever it is, I’m not doing it.

And when John got hit in the head, two things came together: instead of building houses around a golf course, build cemeteries around them. Make the cart paths out of tombstones. You’d never have to worry about broken windows, and the dearly departed would like all the visitors they’re suddenly getting.

“Did you come to see me, Jim, after all these years?”

“Well, not just you. I lost a ball in here somewhere. Have you seen it?”

“Still got that hook, huh? Try two rows up. On top of a guy named Winslow.”

John started to come around. I didn’t have any smelling salts so I took off a shoe and held my sock under his nose.

“What are you trying to do, kill me?” he said.

“I’m sorry, I hooked right into the tree.”

“I’m not talking about the ball, I’m talking about your sock. That thing is deadly.”

“While you were out I had this great idea.”

“Does it have anything to do with Willie Nelson?”

“One of these days, it will.”

Jim Mullen is the author of “It Takes a Village Idiot: Complicating the Simple Life” and “Baby’s First Tattoo.” You can reach him at jim_mullen@myway.com

Copyright 2008, Newspaper Enterprise Assn.

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