This year was the crystal anniversary of the Sunday Morning Group's annual end-of-season golf-only trip to Atlantic City. The first A.C. trip was organized by Barney in 2000, when, for some reason, everyone looked younger than they do today:
Four of the guys in that picture went on this year's trip, too: Hacker (real name), Rick, Tim, and me. (Hacker and I are the only ones who have been on all fifteen.) Two of the guys in the picture are dead: John and Uncle Frank. John's son, Mike, was on this year's trip, and when he laughs he sounds almost exactly like his father. Our main A.C. competition, the Attardi Cup, was named in memory of Uncle Frank:
We always open up our trips to friends from outside our club, and even to friends of friends. This has beneficially expanded our acquaintance with overweight middle-aged men from beyond our immediate geographical area, and has led to some interesting match-ups. This year, six of the twenty guys on the trip were from other clubs -- including Richard. He and I lived on the same floor of the same dormitory for two years in college, but didn't meet until last year, at our thirty-fifth reunion. Now he's an honorary member of S.M.G.:
Our guest policy has occasionally led to problems. One year, one of the guys invited an old high-school friend of his, whom he hadn't seen in a long time. The old friend, who began drinking as soon as he got into Hacker's car, bought a dozen condoms at a convenience store during a refueling stop. "I don't know why I buy these things," he said. "I never use them." Then he stashed the box under his seat and forgot all about it. A week after we got back, Hacker's wife discovered the condoms and -- here's the problem -- didn't believe, even for a minute, that they belonged to any of us. I guess she knew that, even in A.C., our bad behavior is limited to things like ordering beer with breakfast:
And playing as a ninesome:
Speaking of condoms: the first time I bought them I asked for seven, a number that, after virtually endless reflection, had struck me as the sort of nonchalant-sounding quantity that a seasoned purchaser might request. (I was sixteen.) The pharmacist replied that they were sold in either packages of three or boxes of a dozen. I said that, in that case, I would take nine. He said that, in that case, I might as well take a dozen, since the cost was about the same. I said oh, all right, sure, why not, hell, let's make it a dozen -- but I came very close, at that moment, to going back to just being a kid.