On Being Home (Part 1 of 3): The Inside Approach

(Every eight months or so, pending good behavior, my mom and dad earn a visit from their youngest son. This time, I'm taking notes.)

By Jarrett Bellini

My dad is several years retired now, and clearly he feels this entitles him to watch the Golf Channel all day. And, why shouldn’t it? The Golf Channel is not so much a useful network for enthusiasts of the game as it is a right of passage for seniors – a royal invitation from the Retirement Gods.

“We see that gray hair! You’ve worked hard! No more boss, no more reports, no more meetings. Come on over, Phil! Welcome to the Golf Channel! Here’s your complimentary new lack of motivation.”

He’d never accept their free pass for laziness, but he isborderline obsessed with whatever’s on channel 44. In fact, yesterday, he actually hurried to the kitchen television because his infomercial was coming on. Some people make time in their lives for ER and The West Wing… my dad exists for the Speed Stik.

This morning he hollered out to me from the other end of the house, “Jarrett, this is the one! It’s on!”

“What’s on, Dad?”

“The Speed Stik! Check this thing out!”

The Speed Stik is a weighted, club-length rod that promises to improve swing velocity. Just throw the Speed Stik a few times before your drive and see how much faster and harder you strike the ball with your regular club! A gauge along the shaft of the Speed Stik helps you monitor your improved strength. Amazingly, all this can be yours for three easy payments of thirty-three thirty-three.

That’s the part that always gets to dad – the word “payments.” Why pay when you can build? As far as he’s concerned, there exists hardly anything in the world that cannot be created using PVC pipe and sponge. Naturally, the Speed Stik nurtured this belief, and soon my dad found himself at the Home Depot scouring for the proper fittings.

I finally witnessed the Bellini-version last night as the sun was going down. Peaking out the living room window, I saw dad out on the lawn practicing his swing. I had to investigate.

“What the hell is this thing?”

“Oh, this? It’s a Speed Stik. Well, not the Speed Stik. I saw it on the Golf Channel and figured, shoot, I could make that!”

“I see.”

“Yeah, I just took a long piece of PVC, filled it with sand, and capped it off on both ends. Three easy payments my ass!”

I took a few swings of the Stingy Stik and was rather impressed with the craftsmanship. There wasn’t any doubt in my mind that dad’s version of this training device wasn’t any better or worse than the one seen on TV. Now, I’m not sure if this says something profound about my dad’s handy-work, or something cautionary of what’s being sold on the Golf Channel for ninety-nine ninety-nine. Probably both.

Then I noticed something else lying on the grass. It was far more complex than the Stingy Stik, while still embodying the trademark signs of dad’s ingenuity… namely, PVC and sponge.

“What about this thing, Dad? What patent violation is this?”

“Oh this?” He said this matter-of-factly as though he wasn’t dying to tell me about how he had stolen yet another idea from a Golf Channel infomercial. “This is the Inside Approach!”

The Inside Approach is nothing more than a foot-long cylindrical cushion attached to a stand. The cushion, placed just over the ball, promises to help alleviate the dreaded slice by forcing the golfer to use, well, an inside approach. An improper swing from the outside will result in the club smacking the cushion.

Dad saw this one afternoon and must have drooled in excitement like Wilt Chamberlain at a cheerleading competition. Here was an opportunity to utilize both PVC and sponge! So, to go along with his Stingy Stik, dad also has his very own Chintz-ide Approach.

In all seriousness, these assemblies of my dad’s seem to work pretty well. The construction appears to be of good quality, the stolen designs are already proven, and the results are positive. The best part is that dad really gets a kick from figuring it all out, advancing these inventions from his television to his very own back yard.

If you ask nicely, perhaps he’ll even make one for you… just three easy payments of a dollar-eighty-seven.

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