Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Universe Has a Sense of Humor

My brother loves a challenge. As a kid he strived to out run my father, to hit a phone line a quarter-mile away with a BB, to solve Rubik’s cube before he was a teenager, and to play the piano like Billy Joel. He succeeded in everything he set his mind to. Still does. Given a challenge, he will rise to it. Every time. It’s almost as if he can’t fail.

My brother also plays golf. And he is good at it. Very, very good at it. So one day at the driving range as he was hitting balls after school, he realized he was a tad bored and decided a challenge was just the thing to remedy the situation. He looked around at the other golfers all lined up in their conservative clothes, following the rules like the good, conscious, etiquette-minded people they were and figured he had only one choice if he wanted to continue to be an upstanding member of the group. To hit the ball. Again. But where?

It had to be a challenge so he chose the farthest, most unlikely target he could possibly find. A post. About a kazillion yards away, the end of the driving range in fact. He lined up, focused, and like a tornado, ripped that ball toward the post so hard and fast it took off like an earth bound rocket. And, in true form, he hit it. Not on the edge or even near the bottom, but smack dab right in the middle of the post. *WHACK!* The only problem was, he assumed the post was wood. It wasn't. It was metal.

The arc of his golf ball may have appeared quite lovely if someone had actually seen it fly off his club like a rocket, but as it made its return at a speed close to mach-1 (approx.340 m/sec),  I am sure a very different adjective would be needed. And especially if the observant happened to be a part of the tightly packed line of rule-following golfers enjoying their sacred day at the range.

Before he even realized what had happened, it was too late. She was knocked out cold, her husband beside her on the ground wondering why he hadn’t seen it coming. My brother ran to see if he could help, terrified that he had really hurt her. He loved a challenge but never at the expense of hurting anyone, well, except maybe his sister.

“I’m so very sorry. Can I get you some ice? What about dinner, can I buy you dinner?”
“No, no. Thank you, Son. You are very kind. She’ll be ok. Just a little bump, is all. Not to worry.”

But he did worry. He came home that night to tell us the story, reminding us all, especially his beloved sister who couldn’t stop laughing, that the universe has a sense of humor, even if you’re as perfect as my dear brother.

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