Christmas season had arrived and it was my turn to host the annual “golf gang” Christmas party. The year was 2001 (the same year Tiger Woods won the “Tiger Slam”), and I was feeling exceptionally festive. All the regulars were in attendance, including the gentleman that I had recently befriended at the small golf club in Rockwall, Texas that I belonged to, called the “Shoreline.” The man, Richard Loren, had been looking for a game about a month before the party and being that I was by myself on that particular day, I was more than happy to have some golf fellowship. My first impression was that he was a distinguished elderly man of amiable manner, appearing to be perhaps twice my age (eighty years). While we played, Richard informed me that he had owned a language school in Dallas and that he was fluent in six different languages. I had struggled to learn Spanish as a second language and appreciated the skill necessary to achieve such an accomplishment. Richard’s Italian ethnicity, stout stature, and straw fedora, conjured up memories of the Mafia-like characters I had seen growing up in Chicago. This seeming passing observation gave me the impetus to pull an ill-advised prank, which would prove to be my undoing.
During the Christmas party, I had introduced Richard to all of the regulars in our group (Grady, Dave, and Jim), and we made small talk into the wee hours while shooting pool and consuming holiday spirits. The following Monday (when we played our regular game), Grady approached me on the first tee and asked me, “Who was that Mafia-lookin’ fella you introduced us to at your Christmas party?”
The question stoked my prank furnace!
“Are you referring to Richard Loren?” I asked.
“Yep; he looks like one of those gangsters on the Soprano’s.”
“I wouldn’t say that too loud. That guy is the chief crime lord of the Southwest, and if you ever repeat that, I’ll have to kill you.”
“I knew that guy was in the mob,” Grady said to Dave.
“And how is that?” I asked.
“Dave and I saw two big goons in front of your house when we left the party; they must have been his body guards.”
I realized we all had a lot to drink the night of the party, but Grady and Dave apparently had enough to hallucinate.
“Those guys were Luigi and Vito,” I said, “in mob terms: muscle, and more muscle.”
“Golly,” Dave gasped, with a pallor look on his face.
“You guys can never repeat what I just said,” I told them, “Richard might look like a nice old man, but if you cross him, he’ll have your heart ripped out.”
The game is afoot!