LITTLE ROCK — Doing his part, the 10-year-old Shih Tzu ate a few minutes earlier than usual and completed his neighborhood tour which freed his owner/walker to hightail it for the golf course.
Tee times were hard to come by because of the Fourth of July holiday, so the group organizer settled for something a little earlier than usual — 7:26 and 7:34 at a municipal layout hard by the Arkansas River a little more than 20 minutes from the house.
Calling ahead, I told the man in charge the second tee time was doable. No sweat, he said. Come ahead.
The plan to save a minute or two included driving in spikeless golf shoes, with three golf balls, tees, and a glove in back right pocket. Flirting with the 45 mph speed limit west of I-430, the ETA was 17 minutes and I pulled into the parking lot with three minutes to spare — sufficient to grab a cart key, stow the banana, cell and the thirst quencher in the large, high-tech Father’s Day tumbler, strap the clubs on the ride, and make the first tee before the others finished hitting mulligans.
Open trunk. Slam trunk. The clubs were in the other car. Instead of joining a shopping expedition two days earlier, the choice was some chauffeuring and 90 minutes of chipping and putting.
Hollering from the blue tees to our group on the white tees below, we agreed that retrieval of the clubs could be completed in 40 minutes, just long enough for them to play the first three holes. Meeting set, fourth tee.
Back in the car. Back up Cantrell Hill. Smack into a traffic jam.
Six cars back from the cross street, with the police holding up all vehicles, I watched hundreds of the slowest participants among the 1,666 folks in the Firecracker 5K meander across Cantrell.
Some talked as they walked. Others held the hands of children.
More parade than race, the delay lasted long enough that I learned the cop in the patrol car to the left was in his mid-30s, that he could complete the race in less than 30 minutes and would have participated if he had been off duty. Plus his grandfather is in his 80s and has a girlfriend.
Finally, blue lights followed the human caboose across Cantrell. Golf was abandoned. Some things are not meant to be.
Sharing the tale of woe early the next morning with a golf-playing, regular dog walker down the street, I was one-upped.
In school at the University of Arkansas in 1972, he decided to further his education by learning to skydive. He paid the $40 registration fee and went to the student union at night on more than one occasion to prepare for a static line jump from a plane based in Tahlequah, Okla. He mastered packing a parachute. Standing in chairs and jumping off, he learned how to land and roll properly.
In the days prior to the jump, he flunked a test, bounced a check and earned a speeding ticket.
He passed on jumping out of a plane. Not meant to be, he said.
Lukewarm at best about the NBA, Thursday can’t get here soon enough.
That’s the day free agency rumors and wangling about salaries in the $20 million per year range will end and NBA analysts can expound on how the decisions of LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Dwayne Wade and others will affect next year’s playoffs.
Personally, I hope they all stay in Miami and lose to San Antonio in the finals.
This year, 38-year-old Tim Duncan, 36-year-old Manu Ginobili, and 32-year-old Tony Parker made a total of about $30 million — barely half the package for Miami’s big three.
Between them, Duncan and his two pals have 14 NBA championship rings, all at San Antonio. The best player on the planet, Bosh, and Wade won’t collect that many no matter where they play.
Harry King is a sports columnist. His email is HLeonK42@gmail.com.