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Fore! Play? This is why I don't play golf, OK? 

I almost died on a golf course. Twice.

One time, I took a golf ball to the neck. True story. I wish I could say that the ball was merely bouncing along the cart path and caromed harmlessly my way, nicking the top of my back. But no. This was a 125-yard shank job that nearly knocked me from my perch atop the diesel-powered industrial lawn mower on which I spent most of the summer of 2002. Son of a bitch hit me square in the side of the neck, an inch below my ear, almost prematurely ending my career in golf course maintenance.

I brought the mower to a halt and turned to see in the distance, at an adjacent hole, a sunburned man in a Hawaiian shirt giving me a half-assed and seemingly apologetic wave. I leapt from the mower, picked up the offending golf ball and hurled it toward my assailant. It fell a good 75 yards short, so I also chucked my neon hard hat - the design flaw of which turned out to be its lack of neck coverage - for extra effect, before realizing that my neck was slowly swelling to a near-immobile state. That bastard stood there with his hands on his hips, shaking his head disapprovingly at the behavior of the minimum-wage employee he almost erased from the face of the earth.

I've played exactly one game of golf since that day and on that occasion, my foursome was evacuated from the course after four holes by a dude who flew by on a golf cart, blasting an air horn and hysterically warning of an approaching lightning storm. We were pushing our cart through a few inches of hail by the time we got back to the clubhouse as thunderclaps exploded overhead.

So what I've learned is that if you play golf, there's a good chance that you will be killed. OK... I'm exaggerating. You'll maybe... but probably... be killed.

And that is why, my dear friends, co-workers and in-laws, I will not be playing golf with you. So quit bothering me about it, OK? Yes, I realize we happen to live in a region unjustly equipped with more golf courses than Burger Kings ("flame broiled" apparently doesn't mean anything to you people), but can you accept that not every adult male gets jazzed about dressing up like what they think rich people probably dress like and walking around for three to five hours of sometimes hitting a little ball around, but mostly just walking?

So, please realize that this has nothing to do with my not owning, and having never owned, a set of golf clubs, nor shoes, hat, bag or those cute things that go on top of the clubs. And it's not just because I lack the financial means to afford a round of golf more than once a summer or that the universe has conspired against allowing me to ever hit a golf ball with any degree of straightness. Also, this has nothing to do with the fact that my erratic putting skills awaken in me an otherworldly rage known to ruin entire afternoons for everyone.

This - let me repeat - has to do with the fact that I almost died on a golf course. Twice.

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