Then There Was the Time...

(a family narrative)

Now my grandfather is a very interesting person. He's funny (the first time) and is always enjoyable to be around. On the other hand I'm his family and from the story I'm about to tell you'll see that sometimes if you don't know him he can get on your nerves.

Now, I've always known that my grandfather liked to tell jokes to strangers; it seems like every time we went out to dinner with my grandparents that he would find the waitress or another patron and asks, “Why do seagulls fly over the sea? … Because if they flew over the bay they'd be bagels,” or “Why do all good golfers wear two pairs of socks? … In case they get a hole in one!” As you can guess after a while it can get on your nerves.

Now, I need to introduce you to another member of my family, my cousin — on the other side of the family than the grandfather in question, Andrew. My cousin and his then fiancée (they were married this fall), Holly, were both proud members of the College of William and Mary Golf Team. He had met my grandfather a couple of times, but Holly hadn't, or so she thought.

My grandparents live on the Williamsburg Kingsmill River Course one of two golf courses in the neighborhood and, as it so happens, the practicing course for the W&M Women's Golf Team. The team often plays this course and, ergo they pass my grandparents house. At the time of each passing, it is told, a somewhat mysterious and somewhat annoying man appears to tell the members of the team the exact same jokes.

As fate would have it, one day in late December Andrew picked up Holly from just such a practice and drove here to my house for a Christmas party. All was going well until she noticed a mysterious man on the couch. He walked over to Andrew and tapped him on the shoulder. “Andrew,” she whispered anxiously “That man over there on the couch, it's the Troll of the Fifth Hole!” My mother who was standing nearby burst out laughing.

“Oh,” she said, “That's Richard's father.”

“Really?” said Holly.

“Yes,” replied my mother, “and I promise you he's not related to Andrew.”

Over time Holly and my grandfather have met more, and Holly has even come to tolerate him. The point is just because you heard something you thought was funny you don't need to tell the whole world. If you really need to, at least only do it once. If you don't take this message to heart and do as I say, you too could end up like the Troll of Fifth Hole.