Finding My Inner Chi

31 May

*This post is dedicated to the chipmunk that died in the making of these memories, the four birds that happened to be dead already while these memories were being made, and Chi-Chi Rodriguez – my everything.

When I was one year of age, Chi-Chi Rodriguez – or, “Chi,” as those of us in the Puerto Rican golfing community affectionately call him – tapped me on the head at a golf match. (Match? Competition? Race? Let’s go with match.)

Chi-Chi Rodriguez is a famous, Puerto Rican golfer (thank you, Wikipedia).


As a kid, I always thought that my Chi-Chi experience was amazing and noteworthy. I went around telling people I’d been “tapped by Chi-Chi Rodriguez.”

I might as well have been tapped by Zeus, the way I saw it.

Did I know who Chi-Chi was? No. But I was an imaginative kid who would do anything for attention, so the Chi-Chi story quickly became my go-to party tale. (For the three parties I was invited to in my youth.)

It has been a while since I’ve thought about the Chi-Chi story…probably because I’ve started telling my “that time I was across the street from a Matt Damon movie premiere, but couldn’t find Matt Damon in the crowd and started sobbing” story at parties. (I’ll let you know which story is more successful after I finish graphing my influx vs. outflow of friends.)

Anyway, Chi-Chi was not on my radar until yesterday, when I, myself, stepped onto a golf course.

Have you ever wondered, could I unknowingly be the absolute best at something I have yet to try?

Could I be the world’s greatest chess player? Or possibly the best flame thrower? Or maybe the most outstanding…bridge builder?

When you think about it, the number of things you could possibly be really good at is quite overwhelming.

Only a select few of us realize such remarkable destinies.

A far greater number of us have to live through a whole bunch of failures. 

Luckily, I am not one of those people, for I have found The Art of Golf

When my friend Maddie and her dad, Paul, invited me and my friend Tommy to go golfing, I immediately Googled “argyle capris.” (Because socks are too discreet and an argyle shirt screams “I PLAY A NERD ON GLEE.”) These are what I found:


Although fetching, I was running against the clock and did not have time to properly outfit myself with the necessary argyle accessories. I would have to rely on my Chi-Chi bestowed skill. And my wiles. (I just like to say I use my “wiles,” as if they’re an awesome new stereo system or a cool watch. Who knows what “wiles” actually are.)

And my awesome set of golf clubs! Yes, I have a beautiful set of golf clubs that used to be my grandmother’s and that my sister now uses. The bag is pink, the balls are pink, and one of the clubs has a really fuzzy pink bear sock-like thing as a cover.


Now, does that outfit scream golfer to you, or what?! Those loud, vibrant colors! Those inappropriately short, calf-pinching pants! Those peasant shoes!

What I lacked in argyle pants I clearly made up for with nifty apparel.

Due to my giant, well-equipped clubs, though, we had to take two cars.

Tommy and I opted to ride in his 1990 Taurus, in which the stereo is broken.

Lucky for us, I found a cassette tape of songs from The Secret Garden hidden away in the glove compartment. This tape was the perfect way to pre-game our golf session. (And to get pumped for my elderly book club meeting next week.)

The airy, mystical tunes were also the perfect way to recover from a pre-golf road kill incident, where Maddie’s dad accidentally ran over a chipmunk on the way to the course. 

If I were to describe this incident with a golf analogy, I’d say the chipmunk was a children’s mini golf ball and the car was a driver (the club I’m holding in the above photo).

But I couldn’t let my internal PETA radar interfere with my game. Golf is not about emotion! It’s about focus and precision and skill!

(RIP Chippy, you were the best chipmunk I’d ever met and I’m sorry you were hit with the driver and not my “S club” – a club of mine that has an “S” on it and that should not be confused with the band, S Club 7 – which would have been a much better way to go because it’s a lighter club and it doesn’t pack quite as strong a punch. I know you’ll do great things up there.)

When we finally got to the course, the temperature had dropped fifteen degrees, the wind was whipping, and rain was just around the corner.

Conditions were bleak. But, as any prime time golfer knows, golf carts have rain covers!


You can tell Maddie was quite taken aback by this discovery.

Our cart may have been protected, but sadly, my fashion-forward apparel was not cut out for these conditions.

Luckily, Paul had come prepared with a large fleece that he let me wear.


(I would later realize that Paul had strategically given me this *large fleece* so as to obstruct my range of motion and weaken my otherwise fiercely competitive skills. Well played, Paul. Well played.)

Once we were covered and ready, it was time to try my hand at the greatest game ever played.

Remember when I said I had mastered The Art of Golf and boldly proclaimed it to be my Chi-Chi-bestowed – AKA God-given – talent? Well, that proclamation was a prime example of something I like to call “non-truth telling.”

In actuality, I took to golf like a garbage disposal takes to a giant fork.

I somehow thought my Chi-Chi experience would carry me through the game. 

But sadly, a touch from the Zeus of Golf would not be enough to mask a lack of raw skill and an unawareness of general golf etiquette. 

Don’t get me wrong, I can hit a golf ball (on the seventh try). I mean, it doesn’t actually make it into the air, but who has time for fancy tricks like that?

It’s more the etiquette of golf with which I struggle.

For example: who knew you’re not allowed to speak (loudly) and laugh (loudly) during someone’s “back swing”? 

Apparently, yelling, “Chauncey, where on Earth are you with my margarita?” in a loud, affluent lady tone is against the cardinal rules of golf…alongside not being able to do doughnuts in the golf cart.

Fun-sucking guidelines, that’s what those are… 

And who allowed for the planting of so many trees on the golf course? I swear, every time I managed so get some air with my swing, a giant Grandmother Willow would pop up out of nowhere and obstruct my fifteen milliseconds of golf fame.

Half way through our nine holes of golf, it looked like golfing would be another one of those things that I would have to approach with self-deprecating humor and defensive sarcasm, so as to mask my lack of ability. Aw shucks.

And that’s when we saw them: four dead birds, just strewn about the seventh hole of the course.

At first, this seemed like a dark omen sent to reinforce the notion that bad things happen when I play golf.

Upon finding the birds, Maddie became very upset:


(Please note: I requested the above reaction photo, after the fact. Maddie’s actual reaction to finding four dead birds was much more concerned and genuine than this Grinch-like, “Mommy, I just ate a bug” smirk conveys.) 

While I have yet to pose naked for a PETA campaign – despite numerous desperate offers – I do consider myself a friend to the animals.

The combination of the chipmunk’s untimely death and the mauling of these four birds by golf balls was nearly too much to handle. 

Had I somehow managed to kills these poor birds just by stepping onto a golf course? 

Was my presence on a golf course akin to someone saying “Macbeth” in a theater?


I needed a moment to compose myself and to gaze pensively into the distance.


I thought about those poor birds and how uncomfortable it must have been to be struck by a golf ball mid-flight. They were probably on their way home from work with a bundle full of groceries, just waiting to be reunited with their families over a delicious stir-fry that would never come.

And that’s when I realized: it was a Tuesday and my mom would be making stir-fry for dinner.


I also realized that my lack of golf skill was not a curse, but a carefully disguised blessing, only visible to the most astute observers. (Or the most roundabout thinkers.)

Since I was incapable of lodging a ball into the air, I would never be in danger of killing a flying bird! 

I believe that discovery is what the golfing community calls, “a silver lining.”

With this highly motivational take on golfing in mind, I set out to finish the game.

And wouldn’t you know, my last shot was brilliant and my putting was outstanding and I actually managed to play golf like a capable human and not like a challenged ogre with a club and a bad Ambien habit.

Here is a picture of me, mid-brilliance. (Disregard Tommy’s less-than-confident expression. I’m sure it had nothing to do with the magic that was occurring in the background.)


Sure, I accidentally clubbed myself in the ankle after this picture was taken and had to take a very long, dramatic T-out.

But that doesn’t take away from the fact that I achieved my goal of hitting an average shot while also keeping birds alive! 

(Yes, that was my new goal. In life, it is important to tailor your goals so as to assure constant success and positive reinforcement.)

In fact, I played so well that the maintenance man at the end of the course boldly announced, “I know whose autograph I’ll be getting in the future!” 

(He meant mine.)

So you see? It pays to be a shitty golfer with a passion for animal rights. There is a niche for everyone.

I may not be a Chi-Chi prodigy, per se, but I like to think I carry a bit of Chi with me wherever I go.

Next up on my golf agenda? Chi-Chi and I are in talks to establish a PETA campaign to “save the birds.”

At least that’s what I’ll be telling people at my next party.








Ps. Let the record show that Tommy and I did in fact win the golf match.

Pps. Let the record show that Tommy won the golf match.

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