We didn’t break our teeth in country clubs—not on the mean streets of South Euclid.

Golf (in grade school), meant makeshift courses in the back yard. Someone found a nine iron and we’d slice through the grass before Henry Tyrangiel cut it. First hole may have been hitting the telephone pole; second fairway perhaps was the fire hydrant. It was a simple world and we all shot par.

By Greenview, though, the stakes got higher. Riding bikes up Mayfield, we’d either walk nine holes (where now sits The Greens Of Lyndhurst), rent clubs and play, OR, if money tightened, hitch down Green and hang around Highland’s practice green. No frills but all thrills.

No, I wasn’t weaned on country clubs. Not even those three years our Dad bartered membership to The Riviera. This, note, was a SWIM club. Clearly, in MadMen America, this was no more than swimming pools for the kids, tennis courts for the ladies, and cabanas for the men to hide in and play uninterrupted gin. Indeed, the only time our Dad found the water was when a bee found the card table.

And so it was that Thursday marked the annual Hold-Em tournament at Les’s club. For reasons unrelated to venue, I couldn’t wait. Walt and I had each cashed two years ago; Cut won big last year; it was our turn again!

Truth be known, I didn’t fit in. Not there. First of all, it’s not certain at these place, you’re even allowed to perspire. Secondly, half the members strut around like Jewish Chatsworth Osborne Juniors. Not that I didn’t enjoy my time; like Rodney Dangerfield in Caddyshack, I stayed true to myself.

The tourney, of course, preceded by a nice buffet. Arriving late, I found myself sitting at a table for ten flanked by eight empty seats and one 70ish stranger eating pork ribs with a fork and knife. (Need I say more?) Cut came over; so did Walt. For the most part, though, it was just me and this extra from a Sopranos shoot.

By 7 though, the room had emptied. Destiny was calling in the parlor.

This year I went all out to win. Priming my table image, donning a collared black dress shirt, (straight from the Meredith Bogart “Never Wear This Again” collection), my focus was constant.

Early on I was seated at a table with a “nice Jewish boy” that thinks we all forgot he too grew up in South Euclid. Moreover, the guy’s in my business and trust me—when he sees me on the street, when he sees me at Corky’s— he always looks me off.

At 7:50, raising the mumser All In, I knocked him out of the tournament! (Did that, by the way, not only for me, but for Fromin, Masseria and Hovanyi). “Nice hand,” he muttered, slumping away. “Eat shit,” I thought, nodding politely.

And the game went on. And the tables went away..until…Marc and I found the final table. It WAS, like I said…our turn.

There’s something special about The Final Table. Hours having passed, those already out linger, standing on the periphery, watching, musing…waiting as nine players become eight become seven…

Herzog stayed, and Schneider, and Les (still on tilt). They stood as six became five became four…

When we got down to three Jeff chided me on my short stack.
“Leave me alone,” I said, “I’m on fire.” (By then I was playing to the crowd. Card dead for an hour, even Hellen Keller saw my borrowed time).

And then there were two. Just me, with a name tag labeled “Guest”, and the guy to my right, with a tag shouting “Member.”

The Director approached, yawning.
“You guys want to chop it up?” he asked, urging an agreed-upon split.
“It’s not the money, “ I exclaimed. “Do we get a trophy?”
The game went on.

Ten minutes, maybe twenty on, the whole thing ended. Stung by a crippling flop, I turned to the boys:

“This is not good for the Jews.”

And it wasn’t. Moments later, though, shaking hands, I felt like a winner. The real champ approached me, asking if I wanted to stay for a cash game.
“Not a chance,” I said.

Not quite out the door—nothing but smiles—I was pulled aside by the tourney director.
“Did you take care of the dealer” he asked, (as if a Guest wouldn’t know).
“I was born at night,” I said warmly, “But not last night.” (This wasn’t my first rodeo).
And then, hiding shit-eating grin, I walked to my car.

2 Responses to “CADDYSHACK”

  1. Andy Veripapa says:

    So, that is why you weren’t at Lodge last Thursday.
    Now I get it.

  2. Edward G Robinson says:

    “You’re good, kid, real good. But as long as I’m around, you’ll always be second best, see?”

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