The warning alarm knifed through the humid air as my foursome exited the eighth green. Dark clouds overhead meant rain was imminent; the accompanying siren signaled lightning had been spotted and all golfers were to clear the course immediately.
We scrambled into our carts and beelined for the clubhouse, never once considering remaining on the course and playing 10 more holes. Despite seeing pockets of sun trying to poke through the gloom, I’ve seen enough charred tree trunks on golf courses to know the power of a lightning bolt. Not to mention the fact that a golf bag is basically comprised of 14 metal sticks.
Besides, rules are rules, right?
As we approached the clubhouse, we saw plenty of other golfers heading … the opposite direction. A foursome of cigar-chomping bros was teeing off on number one. A dad with his daughter, no more than 8 and the proud owner of a pink flowered golf bag, appeared ready to start their round, rain, lightning and rules be damned.
Such is the nature of living in a country synonymous with freedom. The Cambridge dictionary defines freedom as “the condition or right of being able or allowed to do, say, think, etc. whatever you want to, without being controlled or limited.” And my, oh my, are we getting good at it.
Turn off our cellphones because it’s time for the plane to push back from the gate? Sorry, I’m on an important call with my swimming pool contractor and my freedom takes precedence over an on-time departure.
Leash our dog in a bird-watching section of Central Park because that’s what the signs say? Too bad. That’s a violation of my dog’s constitutional rights, never mind that my dog can’t distinguish a copy of the Constitution from a rolled-up newspaper.
Wear a mask in a retail establishment because doing so might ward off a virus that has killed more than 100,000 people and doesn’t seem to be abating despite, um, warm weather? Excuse me, but nobody tells me how and where to breathe for doing so is a violation of my air intake freedom.
Looking back, I’m starting to question all the parenting decisions I made with my children, now 18 and 23. At the community pool, when lifeguards simultaneously blew their whistles at 50 minutes past each hour, it signaled “Adult Swim” for the next 10 minutes. If my kids dawdled, my wife and I yelled, “Out of the pool. You know the rules.”
Think of all the valuable swimming time my children missed. I should have yelled, “Keep swimming, girls. Nobody can tell you to leave the pool. That’s a violation of your Marco Polo freedom.”
When they were high school students, and the temptations of alcohol began to appear, we were firm: No parties in our house with liquor, for underage drinking is against the law. Silly us. I should have set up a fully stocked bar in my basement. And when police arrived to shut down the festivities, I should have scolded them for illegally entering my premises, verbally harassing the guests — including the 15-year-old cheerleader puking in the bathroom — and impinging on the kids’ First Amendment rights to openly discuss the new Selena Gomez single. That’s a veritable trifecta of freedom violations.
And what about my freedoms? The town where I live has an ordinance stating I can only run my yard sprinklers on even numbered calendar days. Ha! My grass blades are on my property and it should be up to me to decide when they receive nourishment. If I’m slapped with a fine, I’ll take my cues from our freedom-loving president and appeal this horrible injustice all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
I could go on and on stating all the times my freedoms have been trampled, but this column is due and I’m under strict orders to have it in by Tuesday morning.
On second thought, I’ll submit it whenever I feel like it. Need I say why?
(Greg Schwem is a corporate stand-up comedian and author of two books: “Text Me If You’re Breathing: Observations, Frustrations and Life Lessons From a Low-Tech Dad” and the recently released “The Road To Success Goes Through the Salad Bar: A Pile of BS From a Corporate Comedian,” available at Amazon.com. Visit Greg on the web at www.gregschwem.com.)
You’ve enjoyed reading, and laughing at, Greg Schwem’s monthly humor columns in Senior Living News. But did you know Greg is also a nationally touring stand-up comedian? And he loves to make audiences laugh about the joys, and frustrations, of growing older. Watch the clip and, if you’d like Greg to perform at your senior center or senior event, contact him through his website at www.gregschwem.com)