I met up with my friend Moe Greens recently. If you recall, he’s the longtime superintendent at Pretentious Golf, Polo, Yacht, Bridge and Country Club.
A new pub opened in town, one that specializes in craft brews that aren’t overflowing with bitterness.
Moe is a home brewer and has been threatening for years to start a movement called “Get Your Hops Out of My Beer!”
“These guys screw up a batch of IPA, slap a cute name and label on it, raise the price, and become overnight sensations,” he lamented. “Where’s the malt? Where’s the subtlety? Where’s the damn flavor?
“I’ve never despised the West Coast until I started drinking their beer,” he raged one evening before removing the aftertaste from the latest American- style aberration with a couple of Laphroaigs, neat.
“Don’t even bring that glass anywhere near ice,” he warned the bartender.
The birth of a legend
This day, though, Moe was completely at ease as he sipped a lovely brown ale that had made its way down from the Green Mountain State.
Moe recounted his recent lunch with Pretentious member Dr. De Witt Van Buren. Dr. Van Buren had given full detail about a wedding/bird-hunting excursion he had undertaken a few weeks earlier. Unfortunately, those two activities happened in rapid succession at the exclusive Florida club where he plays his winter golf.
As Dr. Van Buren tells it, he was suckered into downing a number of pickleback shots with some “kids,” after which he danced with a coat rack and the wife of the groom’s father, whom Dr. Van Buren had accused of cheating during an all-night game of gin rummy back in the early 1970s.
Shortly thereafter, he headed out to his mint-condition, coffee-colored 1977 Cadillac Eldorado, retrieved his shotgun and went in search of waterfowl. The good doctor managed to crack off two shots, but fortunately hit nothing but ether.
The shenanigans resulted in a six-month suspension from the club, which was fine with the retired physician, since he would be living up North for most of that time anyway.
I tried desperately to get Moe to name the place where this happened, but he steadfastly refused, referring to the club, throughout, as Mundane National.
“It’s like nearly every other damn modern layout in Florida: an overabundance of water and a dearth of strategy, he said.”
Moe has a special place in his heart for Dr. Van Buren. About 10 years ago, a local group of tree lovers – “There’s nothing wrong with trees, mind you,” Doc Van Buren was fond of saying, “in their rightful place” – came up with the idea of planting a variety of species throughout the open areas of the municipal golf course in the town where the doctor spends his summers.
He was fond of the old design and played there regularly. The group was actually making headway with a plan that would have created an agronomic nightmare until Dr. Van Buren, his wife, a bevy of their golf-loving friends, a Lithuanian-born gardener named Smilte, and a ridiculously wealthy couple known as Bob Squared (since both their first names were Robert and they made their money by investing in a portable toilet company in the former East Germany) pushed forward a plan to have a portion of the local arboretum turned into a golf hole.
“The Fourth of July celebration in Washington, D.C., doesn’t have fireworks like what Van Buren and his pack set off at that town council meeting, whoo boy,” Moe recalled, shaking his head at the recollection. “Once the National Guard calmed everything down, the two sides agreed to drop their ludicrous proposals as well as pending assault charges.”
I laughed out loud.
“And that, sir,” Moe said as he rose from his chair, removing his hat and raising his pint of English-style cream ale, “is how the Mill Town Golf Course came to name their club championship hardware ‘the Dr. De Witt Van Buren Trophy.'”
Editor’s note: Moe Greens, the author’s fictional character, reoccurs throughout the year.