Over Easy: Par for the course

By DAN MACKIE

For the Valley News

Published: 04-28-2023 11:35 PM

Shockingly — SHOCKINGLY — I haven’t heard back from Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas about my offer to put him up for a week or two for an Upper Valley vacation with certain, albeit limited, luxury elements.

He has been kicking back with billionaires, and though the unreported trips were epic, I still say money isn’t everything.

For evidence, I recall the Chock Full o’Nuts jingle of years ago, which proclaimed it “heavenly coffee.” Not only was it of divine origins, but the lyrics made ordinary folk a bit more satisfied with our hum-drum days.

Thanks to the tricks of memory, I will take the jingle to the grave:

Chock full o’Nuts is that heavenly coffee,

Heavenly coffee, heavenly coffee.

Chock full o’Nuts is that heavenly coffee,

Better coffee a millionaire’s money can’t buy.’’

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In my vacation quest I am competing with tycoons, but perhaps they miss out on the simple pleasures.

I’d love to let him try a game of horseshoes in his robes or an evening ride for a maple creemee or any flavor of his choosing. The Lebanon Municipal Pool is only $1 for seniors, so it would be my treat. (Does Justice Thomas have an official Property of the U.S. Supreme Court beach towel?)

More diversions for the common man: church suppers, diner food, sunsets atop Jericho Hill, Nighthawks baseball, concerts in the park, maybe even Listen community dinners — sit-down or take-out.

Can Bali even come close?

We are humble people in the Upper Valley, Justice Thomas.

No super yachts here, private jets blast into our airport and then go home. Some of us even like to spend happy hours watching traffic, a pastime that can fill your head with wonder and speculation about what folks are up to. You might see a 1957 Chevy, Justice Thomas, from when steel and cars had no limits. We have untold numbers of Priuses in some towns and hulking pickups in others.

It’s not paradise, but it’s America. Let me know your verdict.

While the Clarence Thomas vacation watch goes on, I find my thoughts turning to another self-proclaimed “bright idea.”

As readers may have heard, Dartmouth College is in a pickle over a $3.8 million bequest for its beloved golf course. The executor of the estate that awarded the money wants it to go to a foundation for children now that the course is no more.

I can only guess at how the courts will rule in Dartmouth v. Needy Children, but if I’ve learned one thing in life, it’s that you can never count out high-priced lawyers.

In the meantime, if the college can’t afford full-size golf, I propose a middle way.

How about mini-golf?

Ivy League mini-golf!

I’m sure college vice presidents, assistant vice presidents and associate vice presidents — and assistants to the vice presidents, assistant vice presidents and associate vice presidents — will initially call my idea “silly” or “stupid.’’

But don’t reject silly or stupid out of hand. Call it whimsical, and you might see it in a whole new light. A few million here and a few million there could produce dividends.

Mini-golf, after all, is aimed at young people — often associated with college — and the young at heart, not necessarily alums.

Think of a nice mini-golf course on the green. If it had a little Baker Library for the 18th hole, it might be meta, whatever that means. Someone younger will have to explain it to me.

A course called Fraternity Row could extol the high-spirited rituals of Greek life. I will not go deeply into them here, as this is a family newspaper.

The Admissions Department could sponsor an ultra-challenging torture course with only a 6% chance of victory — which just happens to be what U.S. News and World Report says is the college’s admit rate.

The “losers” are consigned to almost-Ivies or the dreaded wait list, where your ball is lost in the Ivy underworld.

A mini-course that recreates the original Dartmouth golf course might be too bittersweet for alums. Better to have an all-Ivy layout that makes fun of rivals. I for one would enjoy a colorful clown head with a wide mouth and a couple of teeth missing that would give you a shot of getting into Harvard or Yale.

Hah! The joke’s on them!

I have plenty more ideas but Dartmouth is going to have to put me on the payroll to hear them all. Or I could be a pricey consultant — I’m not fussy.

And my summer might be tied up with Clarence Thomas anyway.

People say that money talks, but I wouldn’t know. I’ve always been more of a listener.

Dan Mackie lives in West Lebanon. He can be reached at dan.mackie@yahoo.com.

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