I wanted him to get back to the ball in the bottom of the ball washer, but he had settled on a framework for his story, and he was going to stick to it.
"Certainly," I said.
"Well, he had the most exaggerated swing I've ever seen. He'd set there over the ball, swaying, and then he'd start his driver back—an outsized driver, it seemed to me, too long for him—and he was so thin that the club seemed to control him, y'see, so that once he got the club head moving back and around he had his troubles keeping himself from winding up on his backswing like a pretzel. Well, he'd get the club head stopped, just before it pulled him off balance, way behind his neck, and then he'd get it moving forward again, his face straining with this great determination, his eyes popping like a guy throwing a hammer, and the odd thing was that it took so much strength to control the great sweep of this swing that there wasn't hardly any muscle left at all when he got everything around to hit the ball. I mean, there'd be this terrific effort and then this little click, and he'd get the ball out there regular about one seven five. Period. But what a swing! Same with every club except the putter. No wonder our pro kept looking off in the distance."
"Now what about the other fellow?" I asked.
"Well, the other fellow was a good golfer, damn good golfer. Big man, and one of those cheery people, Mister Hearty, great big 'Hello, hello' on the 1st tee, the grand handshake and the steady sincere look in the eye. But if you don't hit it off with him right away, come right back at him with that great frankness—if you don't say something to him like, 'Hey, weren't we in the 5th Marine Division together?'—you begin to lose him, and finally you can tell the idea has crept over him that you are snubbing him, that you think you're superior in some way. He'd like you to call him 'old buddy'—something cozy and crappy like that. Well, I couldn't think of anything to say right off, just stared at him, and this quick moment went and then the suspicion began to hit him, and by that time it was too late. Hell, I didn't mind the guy." He shook his glass loudly.
"No," I said. "He sounds O.K. to me."
"We just didn't hit it off right there at the beginning."
"So this guy went off and communed with his caddie. Called him by his first name, 'John.' He'd make a great shot and then he'd say that it was duck-soup easy 'cause John, his old buddy, showed him the shot. 'John, old buddy, you're a great son of a gun,' he'd say, and he'd amble over with this big grin and he'd give the caddie a big friendly punch that rattled all the clubs in the bag. He did that quite a lot. He was a damn good golfer."
"What about the ball in the washer?" I asked.