So one time, GOLF magazine asked me to play a round with Arturo Gatti and Micky Ward and write about it. If you don’t know those names, they were two tough-as-nails boxers who fought three hellacious fights against each other and somehow became golf buddies.
The night before, we all went out for dinner at an Italian restaurant. Arturo and Micky spent the meal laughing about the permanent damage they’d done to each other. Arturo started, lifting up his shirt to show off a lump in his midsection that Micky had somehow made in him.
Micky—he was played by Mark Wahlberg in The Fighter and has a terrific Boston accent—went next, talking about how Arturo had basically knocked his eye out and he couldn’t see anymore. Their friendship had literally started in the hospital. I was like, these two guys are insane.
Anyway, the next day, we met at the golf course. We started with a photo shoot. I have always hated doing a story the same day as the photo shoot, because some (not all) photographers are selfish, precious dickheads who burn up all the time and leave the subjects spent.
This guy was ESPECIALLY like that. He took hours putting the fellas in gloves and boxing robes, holding clubs and driving carts. I kept saying, Buddy, we have a round of golf to play. If we don’t play, there’s no story, and your photos won’t run. “Just one more.” I was dying.
Finally, we got free and made for the first tee. We were met by an entourage. Somehow, six of us were supposed to golf, and there were at least a dozen other heavies straight out of The Sopranos spinning around us in carts. “I’m not sure the course will like this,” I said.
Arturo looked at me and said, “What the fuck are they going to do about it?” I looked at the collection of low foreheads and smashed noses around me. Leather coats and fistfuls of gold rings at a golf course. “Right,” I said. Nothing. They’re going to do absolutely nothing.
I need to add here: I am a bad golfer, and I am especially terrible when I play with strangers and/or an audience. To make matters worse, the first shot was over water. And I was stressed from the photo shoot. Friends, my bunghole was puckered up like I’d fed it a lemon.
As casually as I could, I toss up the tee to decide who hits first. Arturo. Then Micky. Then me. Arturo has a professional set of clubs with an embroidered bag and I’m like, Oh shit, here we go. He sets up with his driver and swings like he’s trying to knock someone’s teeth out.
He makes it over the water but hooks it well off the fairway. Micky’s turn. Micky hits a power duff and shoots the ball high enough to start rain. “Where’d my fahking ball go?” he says. He really can’t see. Like, a minute later it lands with a thud two yards in front of him.
Now it’s my turn. I am sweating. I had one club that I could hit pretty well—my 4-iron, weirdly. For some reason it just fit me. I tee up, and I shit you not, my legs were shaking so bad, my knees clacked together. I take 1,000 deep breaths and start my trademark baseball swing.
Friends, I have never hit a purer golf shot in my life. Felt nothing. Ball travels on a rope, as straight as an arrow, more than 200 yards down the fairway. A huge wave of relief washes over me. And I turn to Arturo Gatti and Micky Ward and say: “TAKE THAT, BITCHES.”
Years later, I can’t explain why the hell I said that. It just came out of my mouth. And two of the hardest men on Earth, along with their army of professional legbreakers, just stare holes into me, in my little polo shirt and cargo shorts and with my 4-iron trembling in my hand.
It was one of the longest, quietest moments of my life. Finally, everyone wordlessly heads to their carts. We haul down the fairway like the marauders in Mad Max: Fury Road, hit our next shots, pummel that first green to death, and head to the second tee. Total silence.
Maybe ten minutes later, Arturo turns to Micky: “I don’t want to play anymore.” And that was it. They all vanish. I finish my round alone, waiting to get dropped by a bullet from the trees. “Take that, bitches.” Jiminy Christmas. At least we had lots of photos to fill the space.

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More from @EnswellJones

13 Nov
In Canada, or in Ontario at least, you have to wait a year after the birth of a child to get a vasectomy, in case you want to chop your balls off just because you hate your baby. Up here, a vasectomy is free, but reversing a vasectomy is not. So they want you to be of sound mind.
The day Sammy turned one, I celebrated by going to see Ottawa’s famed Dr. Weiss, he of the no-needle, no-scalpel vasectomy. “Weiss, as in slice,” he said by way of greeting. At the time—12 years ago—he’d done 25,000 vasectomies. I was in good if slightly chilly hands.
During our first appointment, I was given my “vasectomy kit.” It consisted of a jock strap, a plastic disposable razor that the Bic company discarded as “too basic,” a single valium, and a brochure that explained how I was to present myself at my next appointment—my surgery.
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1 Sep
Friends, I have decided that this week's story will be the last for a little while. Not forever—just for a bit. I have some big projects coming due, and I also need to avoid the Internet after Away comes out. I am a delicate creature.
But thank you sincerely for your kindness, for making me laugh, and for telling me your own stories. I can't always reply but I read them all.

Friday's story will be the 21st. This week I'll count down your favourite five, for the benefit of the late joiners.
Coming in at No. 5—and also the first quarantine story, from April 8: "Pete Simon Saves the Day."

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21 Aug
It’s 2006. Esquire had just named its Best Bar in America: Nye’s Polonaise Room (RIP) in Minneapolis. I was asked to spend three days at Nye’s, drinking from open till close, and write about my experience. I have had worse assignments. But I don’t like drinking alone.
I was posting on a message board at the time. Nearly everyone on there was anonymous, but as is my rash custom, I thought to hell with it. I posted an open invite: “Come to Nye’s and you’ll drink on Esquire’s dime.” I was a good employee in some ways, and in other ways I wasn’t.
A man named Joe took it upon himself to drive nearly 500 miles in his old Cobra from Missouri to Minneapolis. I did not know Joe at all. I told him I’d be the guy in the Hawaiian shirt. This was not a specific-enough description for Nye’s, but Joe finally found me at the bar.
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14 Aug
Some followers and all of my friends know the story of my arrival at Esquire, but I wish to share it today, because it makes me happy. It’s a story about how much strangers can impact another stranger’s life. A janitor changed everything for me. He doesn’t even know he did.
One day in 2001, I’m in New York City to cover the Blue Jays for the National Post. At the time, Esquire—which I loved—operated out of a quaint, maybe three-storey building in Midtown. Today it’s at Hearst Tower, and none of what follows would have been possible. (Sorry, kids.)
Anyway, I decide David Granger, Esquire’s esteemed editor-in-chief, would love to meet a 25-year-old baseball writer from Canada. I walk into the building and up to the security guard behind the desk in the lobby. I ask to see David Granger. The guard looks into my soul.
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7 Aug
Someone got the first colonoscopy. Can you imagine? “James, we’d like to try to put a camera and a light on a hose and put it up your bum so we can see what’s going in there. How’s that sound?” James must have been like, “Do you think that’s really necessary?”
I got my first colonoscopy when I was 24. Went straight from the newsroom to the hospital in gastric distress and before I knew it, I had six feet of garden hose stuck up my ass. After, the doctor described my manner as “combative.” Well, I'm sorry but no wonder.
I’ve had several colonoscopies since. (I wasn’t joking about Hong Kong. You can draw a straight line from that cursed tap water to the mess I made on George Clooney’s couch.) I am less resistant to them than I once was. In fact, I quite enjoy getting my plumbing serviced.
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31 Jul
April, 2000. I am excited to start my first season as the Blue Jays beat writer for the National Post. I love baseball, and I have a scar on my head from Toronto’s 1993 World Series celebrations. (A story for another time.) But I am wrong for the job. It requires good choices.
In the middle of every game, a kid came onto the field with something called the Hot Dog Blaster. It was like a bazooka that fired hot dogs wrapped in tinfoil into the crowd. A T-shirt cannon, but for meat products. Did this plan have flaws? Friends, mayhap it did.
One night, the Jays are hosting the Angels. The press box at SkyDome is quite high, directly behind home plate. I’m sort of staring into space when I’m startled by a loud BANG. I look up—UP!—and my eyes catch the fragmenting remains of a hot dog, rocketing into orbit.
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