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EXCUSE ME, MR. PALMER, SIR
George Plimpton
October 14, 1968
Professional golf has two almost mythic personalities, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer. What happens when a celebrated author, a man who has Interviewed some of the world's famous figures, resolves to talk with two such personages? Is there a right—or wrong—way to approach them, to question them? Can he do it without emerging the perfect fool...?
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October 14, 1968

Excuse Me, Mr. Palmer, Sir

Professional golf has two almost mythic personalities, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer. What happens when a celebrated author, a man who has Interviewed some of the world's famous figures, resolves to talk with two such personages? Is there a right—or wrong—way to approach them, to question them? Can he do it without emerging the perfect fool...?

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"Oh, yes," I said. "Well on the tour, I am told, there is, er, supposed to be this high incidence...."

"Hi, Arnie!" Another man had poked his head around the corner. "Damn good to have you here."

"Howzitgoin'?" Palmer said quite pleasantly.

"Oh, it's just going great, Arnie," the man said. He made an abrupt motion with his fist. "You're going to take this goddamn thing, Arnie...you're going to have one great day tomorrow, I'm telling you."

"We're going to sure give it a try," Palmer said.

"Well, great, Arnie," the man said. His face, so full of expression and concern, froze suddenly, and then went vacant as he gazed at the golfer looking sleepily at him; his eyes popped ajar slightly. "Well, so long, Arnie," he said. He disappeared abruptly around the corner.

Palmer ripped open his last letter.

"Well, how's that for you?" he asked. "That enough?"

I looked up from my notes. I wanted to say that I had just a question or so more, if he didn't mind, but I didn't.

"Oh, sure," I said. "You've been very kind." I stood up and shuffled my notes together. "Absolutely great." I began backing away. I wanted to shake his hand in gratitude for his time, but Palmer was staring down between his feet. "Great," I said. "Thanks." I backed around the corner of the locker.

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