Just A Happy Phil Fan

Phil Mickelson won the British Open today, and it made me happy.

I’m a Phil Mickelson fan, and I’m not sure exactly why.  I’ve never met him, never watched him do a soul-searching interview, and haven’t read a lot about him.  But whenever a major championship rolls around, I find myself rooting for him.

If you watch any golf on TV — and for me, that’s pretty much limited to the major championships — you can’t help but have a favorite player that you root for.  The players are out there, all alone, having to keep their nerves under control as they attempt shot after shot.  Inevitably, you see players in good times and in bad times, when they are playing poorly and when they are playing well, and when the breaks are going their way and when the golf gods have capriciously decided that it is time for the player to suffer some pain.  As a result, you feel like you know them, even if you really don’t.

Why do I like Phil Mickelson?  I like his approach.  I like the fact that he seems to be a family man and isn’t shy about hugging his wife and kids.  I like how he keeps his head up when times get tough.  I like how he takes calculated gambles, and is willing to stake everything on the possibility of making a spectacular shot.  I like the fact that his face is more expressive than you see on most golfers.

Congratulations on this win, Mr. Mickelson, and thanks.  Your triumph brought a smile to my face.

Into Grandma Neal’s Collection Of Horror Stories

A woman died Friday night after falling from the Texas Giant roller coaster at the Six Flags theme park in Arlington, Texas.  It’s a horrible story, one that is a nightmare for everyone who likes to ride roller coasters.

Which is precisely why I thought of my grandmother when I read it — because it’s the kind of story she would have read with interest, remembered forever, and recounted with relish.  For a genteel woman with refined tastes, Grandma Neal definitely had an appetite for the bizarre.  She could converse endlessly about frog wars in some faraway land, or rabbits taking over the Australian countryside, or hardy crocodiles flushed down toilets in New York City that grew to gigantic size and roamed the sewers beneath the streets of Manhattan, ready to gobble up unwary workers.

But her specialty was stories especially calculated to thrill and terrify children.  Grisly thrill ride accidents were common topics for discussion when Grandma and Grandpa Neal took UJ and me to the Kiddieland amusement park in northern Ohio.  Whether the ride was a Ferris wheel or a roller coaster, the end result for any misbehaving patron was death.  In one yarn, a woman was decapitated after standing up on a roller coaster, and her head dropped to the ground with a thud right at Grandma’s feet.  In another, a boy who rocked the Ferris wheel too far tumbled out and was impaled on machinery.  And speaking of machinery, it was likely to catch on any nearby clothing, pull you into the gears, and leave you a crushed, blood-soaked pulp.  And while we’re on such topics, did I tell you about the boy who stuck his arm out a bus window and had it chopped clean off by a passing truck?  Now, who feels like some shoe string potatoes?

I still enjoy roller coasters, despite having my head filled with such stories long ago.  When I ride a roller coaster, however, I always double and triple check to make sure that my safety harness is well-secured, and I keep my hands inside the car.