By Robert Bicknell

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July 4, 2006

Another birthday remembered in a fog…

US Independence Day…July 4th… and another birthday for Uncle Sam and yours truly goes rolling by. For me, the fourth of July is an American style cookout with real sweet corn, the Boston Pops and fireworks, but since the Pops aren’t here and fireworks are verboten, I’ll just have to make do with the sweet corn.

Birthdays and holidays are also a time for reflection.

Turning 48 years old gives me a lot to reflect on, but I won’t bore you with all of them. them, so stop worrying.

Most of my childhood memories revolve around sports such as baseball, soccer, hockey and, of course, golf. During the last visit to the US, I hooked up with some old friends one afternoon and somehow we ended up back at the ball field we grew up on. Before you knew it, baseball equipment was unloaded from the cars and off we went to relive our childhoods.

I gotta tell you that there is nothing more pathetic than a bunch of 40-something guys trying to do the things they did when they were 16, which includes playing baseball.

Somehow, I just don’t remember the ball field being that small. I managed to get a few lucky hits, but it took me longer to get around the bases – a lot longer. Thankfully, my friends also had arthritis so, getting thrown out at the plate wasn’t much of a worry.

We all went to play golf the next day, which was much more our speed and again it was at a course where we played as kids.

Walking down the fairways brought a lot of memories and I kept grinning like Phil Mickelson, but for different reasons. One drive landed right in the same bunker where my father once gave me hell for not raking it. I never failed to rake a bunker after that.

Like the ball field, the course didn’t seem as imposing as when I was young, but the sights and smells were the same and it was loaded with memories. There was one Par 3 which terrified me when I was young because I never managed anything better than a double bogey. I had a tap-in birdie this time around.

Before I left, they threw an old-fashioned barbeque, something which I have never seen replicated in Asia, and again it brought back good memories.

If someone had told me 25 years ago that I’d be living in Vietnam, I would’ve thought they’ve been out in the sun far too long and are in desperate need of mental help.

Yet, I’ve been here for 14 years, been married for 10 and have a daughter. I have the opportunity to work in the fields that I enjoy, namely golf and writing, and both fields allow me to exercise my creativity.

Speaking of creativity, just the other day during a round of golf with Gopala Krishnan, I said "Watch this, I saw it in a cartoon once, but I think I can do it…"

We never found the ball after that shot, but it was fun trying it anyway.

I believe the trick of dealing with getting older is keeping a good sense of humour about the whole thing. Ok, sure, sliding into second base isn’t something I can do well anymore, but on the other hand, I no longer need to and I have no intention of sliding into the second tee.

One of the biggest problems we face when getting older is the pressure of added responsibilities. Work can suck the life out of you at times, so you have to find a way to keep everything in perspective. Good friends and family are vital to keeping your spirits up.

Recreation is also vital because the more complicated life becomes, the more we need the simplicity of play.

So, with that in mind, I’m off for my final round here at Kings’ Island Golf and I plan to enjoy every minute of it. Afterwards, I’m gonna start looking forward to the 4th of July celebrations where I can relive my childhood once again with a lot of old and new friends.

They’d better have sweet corn this year…




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