Where did THAT come from?


It was a serene summer morning and the three of us were on the golf course – a perfect way to relax with the family and get in a little exercise. My brother and his son are good golfers – much better than me – but scores didn’t really matter to us. We were there for the camaraderie.

I was telling my nephew how one day I would like to teach my young daughter how to play and she, my wife and I would all get the chance to experience the joy of golfing together – just like we were doing then.

The next thing that came out of my mouth was an expletive so foul that it would have made a career Boatswain’s Mate blush.

I had “duffed” the ball. For those who don’t play the game, “duffing” is golf for “digging a trench with your club.” Suddenly my score – which we had not been keeping but really had been – was going to get worse.

My nephew looked at me in shock with a “where did THAT come from” look on his face. In the next golf cart over, my brother began to laugh uncontrollably. My nephew said something to the effect of, “You had better not talk like that when you teach your daughter to golf.”

Was it my Sailor background that made me say that? What could possible have forced words that had sat dormant for years (since retirement, anyhow) to suddenly be launched from my mouth after something as trivial as a duff? Maybe it was the heat. Maybe it was the twosome that was crowding us from behind. Maybe, but I think it was the chiggers.

Chiggers are almost-microscopic mites that live in the midwest and south that are attracted to human flesh. Here is a picture of one.

(Oklahoma Poison Control Center)

They eat human meat by secreting saliva (bug spit) that liquifies skin cells. The act of melting the skin irritates the surrounding area, causing you to itch.

Spending the bulk of my adult life near the ocean or in areas that don’t have chiggers, this symbiotic relationship between human and microscopic larva tends to freak me out.

According to leading experts at the Island Creek Elementary School of Fairfax County, “chiggers spend most of their lives living in moist soil, and prefer edges. Examples of edges include where forests become meadows, streambanks, shores of marshes, and boundaries of yards and parks.”

Since I spent most of my golf outing “near the edges” – or in golf vernacular “off the fairway”, or “in the woods”, or “in the tall grass”, or “Does anybody see my ball?”, it makes perfect sense that I had become the All You Can Eat special for the little buggers.

As a victim, I can say with all credibility that it is difficult to maintain your composure while being consumed by parasitic larvae.

Some will judge me, I am sure, and many will disapprove of the language I used. I understand that and accept it.

It’s all just a &*$#@ shame.


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