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The thrilling putts of yesteryear - R.H. Joseph

Illness has a way of distilling life: the more debilitated one becomes, the more appreciative.

For example, about four years ago I was in the midst of some serious therapy for a cancer diagnosed as having progressed to Stage 4. There is no Stage 5, only reunification with Elvis.

Knowing that an immortal such as The King is well aware I always preferred Jerry Lee Lewis I elected to throw myself on the doorstep of Emory University Hospital.

Pinning a note to my lapel that read "You can knock me down, step on my face, slander my name all over the place, but don't you step on my blue suede shoes," or something to that effect, I willingly submitted to whatever necromancy was required to reanimate the dead.

Stage 4 cancer demanded all-out thermonuclear war and a brand new therapy was employed which had hitherto been considered far too toxic.

"What they hey!" said I. "I'm a party animal, a product of the '60s. We probably had better stuff back then."

That's what I thought. After 40 consecutive radiation treatments with concurrent repeated infusions of chemotherapy they'd about worn me down to a nub. Following a brief shower, I'd have to wait 30 minutes before I had the strength to brush my teeth.

I mention this because it was then and only then that I could appreciate watching golf on television. Suddenly my metabolism was apace with the game. Suddenly a sport(?) in which nothing happens slowly became appealing. Suddenly a bunch of bland, perfectly groomed white guys (and you know who) in natty attire became interesting.

I had the patience to watch the progress of a 40-foot putt during a time frame ordinarily reserved for touching up my gray spots with a splash of Grecian Formula 44. Like I said, illness puts things in perspective.

Fortunately I've recovered both from my cancer and televised golf.

I mention all this to put this past weekend's events in perspective.

It all began well. They were playin' the blues on WREK's (91.1 FM ) Friday Night Fish Fry and Baby and I were adhering to F. Scott Fitzgerald's dictum: "Living well is the best revenge."

Hot off the grill, the babybacks were slathered with my homemade barbecue sauce, the sweet potatoes beckoned like starlets at a casting call and the brussels sprouts bobbed in a sea of European style (twice the fat) butter like glistening emeralds floating upon the sun's corona.

And then dessert. H?agen-Dazs, chocolate, coffee n I'm a mocha kind of guy. As F. Scott said, "?the best revenge."

Montezuma had a different perspective.

I didn't get out of bed at all Saturday n well, that's not entirely true. Use your imagination if you dare.

The quantity wasn't the problem. Our bodies expect this. We eat this way regularly, we're Americans.

No, the blame must be placed elsewhere. I should have been more attentive when a co-worker stayed out last Wednesday reporting "food poisoning" to be the cause.

Naturally the assumption was he was out stealing hubcaps. "Food poisoning" is nothing more than an adult refinement of "stomach ache," one we've all employed at critical moments in our youth.

I was wrong, very wrong, horribly wrong. Uggh!

I mention this because the Daytona 500 was on the tube Sunday. The question was, was I sick enough, weak enough, debilitated enough to watch several dozen highway billboards go 'round and 'round in a long line 250 times?

Immediately apparent, the answer was decidedly NO!

Oh, the pain. Football's over, the Formula One season wont start for another month and I simply wasn't sick enough to enjoy myself.

Well, that's not entirely true either. Though watching sporadically I had occasion to observe some fool slide into the wall coming out of Turn 3 (I think).

I paid it no mind until the announcer said it was Derrick Cope. "Wait a minute!" I exclaimed. "Isn't he the guy that hawks hair replacement therapy on one of those low budget TV channels?"

The rest of the drivers are just names. I know Cope, I feel his pain. Truth be told, the photo accompanying this column is a retouched version of the one in my high school yearbook. It doesn't accurately depict my current hairline. I'm a Cope man; I identified; I was engaged.

Later, as those of you who watched already know, there was a horrendous, multi-car crash. Someone felt worse than me. Life is good.

R.H. Joseph is a longtime employee of the News Daily. His column appears on Wednesdays. He may be reached at (770) 478-5753, ext. 252, or by e-mail at rjoseph@news-daily.com.