Location: marengo, il, United States

Sunday, March 11, 2007

The Problem with Harry

I worked a summer job briefly at our local country club. It was to become my first and last job as a caddy.

Arriving early the first day, a kind man directed me toward a shed which stood near a putting green. A dozen or so boys, my age and older, stood outside, milling around and talking to each other.

Within minutes a golfer approached us and hired a boy. His partner quickly took a second one from our band. Soon two more were chosen. They in turn hoisted individual bags effortlessly as they followed smartly after their twosome.

Feeling excited, I leapt forward when another man motioned to me. But after covering the first fifty paces down the green, my youthful jubilation changed to painful remorse. The staggering weight of the leather bag caused the strap to cut into my shoulder, while each leg begged me to stop and collapse there on the grass.

Relief came at the end of the ninth hole. There the duffer announced that he was done for the day, and tossed me a quarter before he left. By day’s end, I earned a grand total of one dollar and seventy-five cents.

I endured three more tiring days of wobbly knees and torturous heat while struggling at every turn to identify the confusing array of golf clubs. I suspect that I must have been paid by many due to their sympathetic nature rather than for my poor skills.

Now. Even as a young child, I disliked my given name. It made no solid sound like Bob or Tom or Pete. It lacked the musical qualities afforded by names like Louis or Charlie. The sound of my name offered no personality like Doc or Bud. I really disliked it a lot. But I never could decide what might be a better substitute, until I found employment as a golf caddy.

One cheerful client asked me my name just before he teed off. That was a most unnatural act. Few of the duffers had said much to me beyond, “Hand me a five-iron, boy” or “No, that’s the wrong club, son”.

So with no hesitation, and with little thought beyond “Here comes my chance at last!” I blurted out a fresh, new name.

“Henry, sir!”

I regretted the decision instantly.

Henry, after all, sounds no different than Harry.

It has the same amount of letters.

They both begin with aitch and end with why.

What is the matter with you, I wondered?

“Henry, eh? Well, Henry, let’s go play golf.”

The man was a hearty chatter, I discovered. Between shots, he talked constantly, and of course he spiced up his conversations with lots of additional Henrys.

“Henry, did you know that…”


“Henry, have you ever heard of…”

By the third hole, I looked for ways to vanish off of the face of the earth. By the eighth hole, my regrets began to weigh more than the leather bag, with all of its clubs combined, and I wished to throw the entire lot and my new dumb name into a near-by water trap.

I was also fearful that friends of my father or my mother might spot me and mention something embarrassing, like saying aloud my given name.

But mercifully, as he retrieved the ball from the cup on the ninth hole, he handed me his putter to put away before handing me a crisp dollar bill, plus one additional silvery fifty-cent-piece.

“That’s it for today, Henry. You did a good job, so I’ll see you tomorrow.”

I took that to be my cue, which thus ended a cruel career.


Blogger The Fractal Cat said...

If you took your cue does that mean you took up Pool?

Harry is ok as a name. I was at Junior School with a boy who had the name Beverley. I thought that was odd enough, then I found out I had an Uncle called Dommit. Never come across the name before or since...

Good to see you back.


9:02 PM  
Blogger Harry said...

I had to struggle with the word, cue, which is fun.

Had a dog named Dammit. I wonder if he and Dommit were kin?

10:50 PM  
Blogger sweetpea said...

I always thought Harry was a good name til I changed it to Harzey

8:23 AM  
Blogger Harry said...

Such a cruel woman.

11:48 AM  
Blogger Janus Torrell said...

Welcome back Harry!

My regular name is pretty boring myself, I spent half my life wishing it was something more exotic. I think we all wish to trade in our names at time.

10:24 PM  
Blogger Harry said...

Thanks, Janus.

You are right, I think.

10:38 PM  
Blogger Ned said...

I'm a little late.

I like the name Harry, knew a Harry or two in my life - but not too many. The Boy decided for a time to eschew his given name and insisted we call him Harry. He's gone off it now, but I still think he could be an effective Harry. To punish him, I speak to him only in Spanish now.

I had a name that just didn't fit with the usual names of my generation. I didn't like being different then, but I do now. I['t about growing into who you are.

I think you are definitely a Harry.

9:05 PM  
Anonymous Joelseph said...

Hey Pop!

Glad to see a new story up! I've never called you Harry or Henry or anything else with aitch or why in it. Today I'll call you Pop.

9:50 AM  
Blogger Harry said...

You genuinely make me laugh, Ned.

8:25 PM  
Blogger Harry said...

I named one of my pups Joelsepf? Wow!

8:26 PM  
Blogger Clive said...

Don't talk to me of names. Saddled is the word, saddled.

And Harry is far better than almost every other name I can think of.

6:42 PM  
Blogger Harry said...

Clive is not only unique, it is different. What man would not want to be a Clive?

8:13 PM  
Blogger Clive said...

In America, Clive is an unusual and possibly distinctive name. In Britain, it is common and most often used by the Welsh.

And I'm saying nothing about my middle name...

6:50 PM  
Blogger Harry said...

Now that requires a whole nuther blog.

4:13 PM  
Anonymous Calliope said...

Good post.

4:02 PM  

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