Swinging Into Chaos: The Chicago Golf Club Caper

Swinging Into Chaos: The Chicago Golf Club Caper

Posted on September 8, 2023 at 7:37 pm by Charles de Lacy

Patriotism: the last refuge of a scoundrel, or so the old adage goes. HOW has seen its fair share of patriots in recent times, barrel-chested braggarts hiding their insecurities behind lazy jingoistic rhetoric. But of all them, perhaps Steve Solex is the most ardent. He’s certainly the most conflicted. For, beneath the star-spangled banner he waves so fervently, a dichotomy reveals itself like a crack in his not so polished veneer. Here is a man proudly draping himself in his flag’s colours, purporting to uphold the values of the land of the free, while in the same breath, bowing to the whims of Lee Best, a corporate puppeteer pulling the strings of loyalty. It’s a curious sight, to be sure – the patriot’s fervour entangled with the strings of the company man’s conformity.

It might surprise the casual reader to learn that I, Charles Percival de Lacy – inveterate Englishman, wearer of the finest herringbone tweed, county cricket champion, and fierce defender of the realm – harbour no real antipathy to my adopted U.S. of A. In fact, you could even go as far as to say I’ve grown strangely fond of it. Believe me, these sentiments are just as surprising to me as they are to you. If you had told me, as I first snuffed the scent of the Chicago river as it slid greasily under the nine bridges in the centre of the Windy City, perfumed handkerchief clutched to my nose, that I would one day be professing my affections for this slagheap, why, I would have had you committed on the spot. But while in marital matters, familiarity undoubtedly breeds contempt, in matters of psychogeography, it can forge an odd sort of bond.

Chicago is my home, you see, and as much as it pains me to swap the English roast for the deep-dish pizza – an hour to cook and a forklift to serve! — or the verdant splendour of the Yorkshire Moors for the barren plains of the Midwest, I find a great deal to admire in the so-called Home of the Brave. It’s flag-waving nationalism, however, I can’t abide.

My patriotism is of a much more nostalgic bent. I recognise the faults of my countrymen, I wince at the inevitable decline of the empire, and I bemoan the fading respect for traditional values that once defined us. And so, while Solex and his ilk find succour in their misguided sense of national pride, I believe that true patriotism lies not in blindly embracing every change, but in cherishing what is worth preserving.

Therein lies the difference between myself and Steve Solex.

He is evidently oblivious to the tides of change. This was evident last week when he cast aspersions about my record since joining HOW, questioning my very involvement in the Fatal Four-Way match for the number one contendership of the World Championship. The same Fatal Four-Way match that saw him succumb to Conor Fuse’s 450 Splash while I was busy giving Shane Reynolds the thrashing of a lifetime. So, while I will concede that my legacy in High Octane Wrestling is a work in progress, I put it to you, Steve, that at least it is one on which to build. I have, to date, defeated Scott Stevens, Bobbinette Carey, and Jatt Starr – all of them HOW Hall of Famers. What have you done recently? Flattered to deceive in a pitifully short HOTv title reign, and eaten a pin from a man who spends his time fondling a joystick in the depths of his mother’s basement. Defeated by an incel. That’s got to hurt.

Now, far be it from me to mock a man with mental health issues – we all have our demons, after all – but what I fail to grasp is, what with all those multiple personalities bouncing round that oversized coconut of yours, why didn’t you summon the one that was capable of tearing Fuse’s scrawny carcass limb from limb? I know it exists. I’ve been around here long enough to see that side of you, though it’s lain dormant for some weeks now.

It begs the question: which Steve Solex am I going to encounter come September 10th? The husk of a man who took it laying down at Chaos 40, or the proud patriot and self-proclaimed #1 dad?

You know, I’ve never been one for sentimentalities. I never got along with my own father – a man whose worldview clashed with mine at every turn. We were like oil and water, never mixing, always repelling. But I’ve come to realise something, Solex. Our pasts, our relationships with our fathers, they shape us in ways we can’t always understand.

Perhaps old dad is partially responsible for my failings in life – I am, like him, of barely average height and of sadly over-average weight, my fleshy good looks somewhat compromised by my fondness for the bottle. A fondness derived, it should be said, from the insecurities he drummed into me as a child. I mention this not in hopes of sympathy, God forbid, but as a means of an explanation. For, as we step into that wrestling ring, I can’t help but feel it’s going to be more than a mere clash of wrestling styles. More than the English technician and the all-American brawler. It’s a showdown. A family psychodrama in minature. You, the foreboding shadow of paternal influence, and me, the chap who’s been dodging fatherly advice since birth.

I do intend to delve into those daddy issues come Sunday, Solex, and not just for myself, but for every poor soul who’s ever dreamed of landing one on their old man. You remind me a lot of him, Steve. Same overbearing presence. Similarly antiquated views. Military background. But while you may have faced bullets and bombs, nothing can prepare you for the kind of psychological warfare that I am going to wage on you. I’ve seen the chinks in your armour, and I’m ready to exploit them.

So, prepare yourself, my dear soldier, because when we meet, it won’t just be about grappling holds and body slams. It’ll be a contest of mental fortitude, where I aim to leave you not just physically battered but mentally shaken.

_ _ _

Those of you with better memories than I may recall that only a few weeks back, I found myself on a quest to secure entry into the illustrious Chicago Golf Club. Fatigued by the less-than-reputable characters who seemed to govern my daily existence – whether it be the troublesome Bests, the ever-watchful tax collector, or the unwanted advances of dear Mrs. Hernandez next door – I concluded that a change of scenery and a more refined circle of companions were precisely what the doctor had ordered.

You can imagine, then, just how overjoyed I was to receive the following notice:

Dear Mr de Lacy,

We trust this letter finds you in good health and high spirits. It is with a sense of decorum and deliberation that we address this matter.

We have recently reviewed your application for membership at the esteemed Chicago Golf Club. It is our customary practice to uphold the traditions and values that define our establishment – a sanctuary of dignity and exclusivity.

However, in this particular instance, we have encountered a conundrum. Your dossier has raised eyebrows, to say the least. Your idiosyncratic disposition and unorthodox inclinations, not to mention your chosen profession, have caused some consternation among our esteemed committee members.

Nonetheless, it is our solemn duty to maintain the principles of fairness and impartiality in our deliberations. To our collective astonishment, your application met the requisite criteria for membership, thus leaving us with no reasonable grounds for denial.

Henceforth, we are constrained to extend an invitation to you, Mr. Charles Percival de Lacy, welcoming you into the fold of the Chicago Golf Club. We do so with a measure of trepidation, but trust in you to assuage any reservations we might have by virtue of your future comport.

Yours in cautious acceptance,

Mr William Harrison III

Club Secretary

Hardly a resounding endorsement, by the sounds of things. Not that I cared a jot.

I should have known that the genteel folk at the Golf Club might take exception to my extracurricular activities, but in my desperation to escape the suffocating atmosphere of my everyday reality, I hadn’t given it a second thought. For once, it seemed I was in luck.

The next morning, I mustered the enthusiasm to rise from my bed and get ready for my inaugural visit to the Golf Club. After an excited flurry of buttoning and knotting, I eventually emerged in a stately ensemble – a dapper waistcoat adorning a crisp white shirt and pleated trousers; butter-soft leather loafers on my feet; and, perched atop my head, a jaunty trilby hat.

And so, having formally dressed in accordance with golf club etiquette, I made for the exit. However, no sooner had I tried to leave the apartment, I was confronted by Mickey – my personal valet. Mickey, a rough-hewn Cockney barrow boy of remarkable intelligence, had quickly become indispensable to me in his role as confidante, friend, valet – even surrogate father figure at times. He was, nonetheless, common as muck. Not at all the sort of chap you would want anywhere near an exclusive gentleman’s club.

However, on this occasion Mickey seemed less than enamoured with the idea of me departing (alone) for a session of ‘gentlemen’s golf’ – as he so eloquently put it. Despite my protests that he had no notion of the standards expected at such a grand establishment, he implored me to take him along, pleading his case with an eloquence and vigour I had never before witnessed from him.

“Please, Mr Charlie, let me come with you. I can carry your bag and be your caddy. I won’t get in the way, I promise! Think about it; while you’re out there playing your game, I’ll be learning all about how these fancy folk go about their business. As you well know, there’s money to be made from knowing what people do and don’t like, not to mention who knows who and who owes who.”

He looked upon me imploringly, eyes brimming with an odd mix of humble servitude and not a little mischief. I relented, for I am a weak man.

Thus it was that the two of us arrived at the much feted Chicago Golf Club, my old friend and I. As we stepped through the entrance, and into the hallowed halls, a hush fell over the room. Ordinarily this would have been expected for a place of such grandeur and refinement, yet there was something about it that seemed altogether different. I could feel the eyes of judgemental members upon us as we made our way across plush carpets to the reception desk. The fact that my companion Mickey had apparently chosen not to dress for the occasion did nothing to assuage their collective suspicion – in his usual style he had donned an eclectic mix of garish clothing; a lurid Union Jack waistcoat accessorised with lime green trousers and gaudy brothel-creeper shoes, all topped off by a flat cap that screamed ‘East End’.

After a brief but all too embarrassing exchange with the woman at the reception desk, a prim and proper sort who, for reasons unclear to me, seemed to take great joy in informing me that I was required to provide a letter of support from my sponsor, Mr William Harrison III, we were in. 

Instinctively, we made our way to the bar, and as we approached, I could feel the eyes of disapproval upon us burning into my back. It seemed that Mickey had been wise to accompany me; his unperturbed presence truly does wonders for a fellow’s confidence. No matter where he finds himself, Mickey has an uncanny ability to navigate the trickiest of social waters with a nonchalance that I can only aspire to.

“Come on Mr Charlie,” he said. “Let’s get a few drinks in us. Enough so we can forget about these stuck up twats, any road.”

Reluctantly at first, but with growing eagerness as the minutes passed, I agreed. We found ourselves two seats at the bar and before long were necking pints with gusto – much to the chagrin of those around us who were more inclined towards sipping gin or whisky. But this only emboldened us further, and soon enough we were regaling each other with stories from our pasts – and getting progressively drunker in the process. 

As fate would have it, it didn’t take the bartender long to reach the end of his hospitality rope. He approached our little duo with all the politeness of a rattlesnake delivering a formal warning.

“Excuse me, sirs, but it appears the welcome mat has been rolled up for you,” he declared in the most civil tone that thinly veiled his annoyance. Mickey, bless his heart, decided this was the moment to unleash his inner firecracker.

“What do you mean we can’t stay here? This is practically our second home!” Mickey bellowed, his voice ringing out like a symphony of car alarms. Heads turned in our direction, and for a brief moment, our little scene outshone the finest drama the theatre had to offer.

The bartender remained the immovable object in this verbal hurricane. “I’m dreadfully sorry, gentlemen, but if you can’t dial down the volume, I’ll have no choice but to kindly request your departure.”

Mickey, a tempest of righteous indignation, flung his hands upward in a gesture that screamed, “injustice!” 

“Blimey, Charlie, this is a proper malarkey! They’re givin’ us the boot ’cause we’re having a bit of a laugh!?” Mickey exclaimed, his Cockney accent adding a touch of streetwise flair to his protest. “I mean, crikey, ain’t we bringin’ a bit of life to this joint?”

I attempted a discreet, sorrowful headshake, realizing that Mickey’s fiery eloquence had likely painted us into a corner. The die was cast, and our imminent departure from the club was set in stone.

As Mickey’s fervent defence continued to echo through the hallowed halls of the Chicago Golf Club, the bartender’s patience reached its zenith. With a wry smile and a wink, I leaned in close to Mickey, attempting to convey reason amid the chaos.

“Mickey, my dear fellow, I do believe it’s time we make a strategic retreat,” I whispered, my words barely audible over his passionate tirade.

Mickey, however, had other plans. “Retreat, Charlie? Not on your nelly!” he declared, his enthusiasm undeterred.

Just as it seemed we were about to receive a chorus of polite but firm expulsion, an older gentleman with an air of authority approached. He tapped the bartender on the shoulder and muttered a few words. The bartender’s demeanour instantly transformed from exasperation to deference.

The elderly gentleman turned to us with a kind smile. “Gentlemen, I couldn’t help but overhear your…lively discussion. My name’s Alistair Kingston, and I happen to be the club’s oldest member.”

Mickey and I exchanged bemused glances as Alistair continued. “You see, we’re always in need of a bit of entertainment around here. I must say, your passion is rather infectious. Why don’t you chaps join me for a round of golf next week?”

And so, by a twist of good fortune, our tumultuous entry into the world of the Chicago Golf Club had turned into an invitation from its most esteemed member. As Mickey and I exchanged surprised glances, it was clear that this chapter in our misadventures was far from over. Little did we know that the lessons we’d learn on those greens would be more valuable than any we’d gleaned from our eccentric escapades, and that my upcoming match with Solex would be a spectacle that even our newfound golf companions wouldn’t want to miss.