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Uncle Virgil and The Abomination

Randy Wilson



Uncle Virgil was killed by a golf abomination.  A team of doctors were stymied by his mysterious illness, yet our family knew exactly what happened:  Uncle Virgil, partnered with Norm, had racked up 30 straight losses versus Mike and Randy in the annual Wilson Thanksgiving Golf Ritual, "The Great Gopher Feast of Gluttony and Boasting Tournament".


It was just too much for him.  Of Dad's seven brothers--three in golf, two in bowling and the others in useless, non-essential work like business--Uncle Virgil's career arc was most similar to mine.  We were both destined to wander between careers in what I term, "Pinball Theory" or what you might call "aimless drifting".


Uncle Virgil's first job was as an Airman (I don't know what that means, either) in the Air Force, where he developed his first mysterious medical malady:  A tendency to flop over like a World Cup soccer star, whenever a high-ranking officer was around.  This problem went away within hours of his discharge.


.... one fellow reportedly ejected himself from Virgil's truck on an Atlanta interstate.


Uncle Virgil's next career as a pro bowler ended due to a sacrum malfunction and he spent a few years in golf course construction before settling on life as a maintenance man for "The Awful Waffle".


A steady diet of waffles and fried 'taters soaked in greasy cheese led to a dangerous condition known to medical specialists as "Bad Air Syndrome", or BAS.  (Not especially dangerous for Uncle Virgil, but near fatal for his co-workers, as one fellow reportedly ejected himself from Virgil's truck on an Atlanta interstate.)


Surprisingly, Uncle Virgil's BAS was a positive development, as he was rarely assigned a partner.  This allowed him a certain freedom, with which to play golf several days a week.  He could be on the first tee within minutes of Norm issuing a golf alert.


On the course, Uncle Virgil loved to regale us with stories of our ancestors back in Tennessee.  Using voices from old radio shows, sounding like Ludell or Bubba, he told us the tale of Great Uncle Budgie and Auntie Clyde surviving the Pinson Cyclone of 1920.  The high point was when Clyde peered out the kitchen window and calmly said, "Budgie . . . porch is gone."


Uncle Virgil met Cleo, his first wife, way back up in the mountains of Flag Pond, Tennessee, when he was invited to attend a family wedding.  Virgil was unaware of his role until Pritchard, Cleo's Daddy, produced an old exposed-hammer, double barrel and gave an imperceptible nod toward the altar.


This came to be known as "Pritchard's Law" ...


Pritchard taught Uncle Virgil the "Code of the Hills", wherein if a man is unjustly bad-mouthed, he may seek retribution in the form of a real good fight.  However, should womenfolk, the family name or a man's hunting dog get besmirched, then out comes the guns.


This came to be known as "Pritchard's Law", and was spread throughout the early days of the Senior Tour by one of Uncle Virgil's buddies, one Harry Toscano.  Harry was in the habit of threatening to call "Pritchard's Law" on most of his fellow Senior Tour players for years.


Uncle Virgil, famous for club-slinging fits that made Tommy Bolt look sedate, also invented the immortal cry of "Just one little limb!"  But what enshrined Uncle Virgil in the Rockbottum Hall of Fame was what occurred in 1994 at a Wilson Family Golf Reunion.  As Uncle Virgil relaxed about the hotel swimming pond after a hard day of bad golf, our culture-confused nephews exposed him to "gangsta rap" from a cranked boom box.


Uncle Virgil had some kind of seizure and burst forth from his hammock screaming, "It's an abomination upon my mind!"  His brain apparently broken, he flopped onto the ground like he was back in the Air Force.


From that day forward, whenever we engaged in exceptionally bad golf, it was mandatory to perform a golf seizure while shouting, "It's an abomination!"  (Flopping onto the ground was optional.)


I was the last one to see Uncle Virgil alive, when I took a laptop to the hospital to show him some of the crazier Rockbottum films.  He watched in silence as Momma bashed a golfer with a bat or Aint Feemy growled "Come on down outa that tree and gimme some shuga!" through a mouthful of snuff.  Since both characters were based on Uncle Virgil's momma and her sister, I had thought he would laugh.


He remained stone-faced and turned to look me in the eye for the first time all afternoon.  "You and Mike hitting them lucky shots and always winning at the last minute," Uncle Virgil muttered.  "That was an abomination.  I should'a called Pritchard's Law on you."    


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