Ryder Cup Logo Ryder Cup: Team USASeptember 22-24 2006, The K Club, Straffan, County Kildare, Ireland

Reporting For Duty

Monday, September 18, 2006 2:43 PM

On the second weekend of the NFL season, I made four touchdowns: DFW, O’Hare, London Heathrow, and finally Dublin around 11:00 a.m. local time. Considering the contestants from Super Bowl 37 still don’t have a single one between them in two games, I’ll take it.

Going halfway around the world is always a challenge, but – using Ryder Cup parlance – I felt like I was 3 down before I’d even left. For one thing, I’m already missing my beloved, who drew the short straw and had to stay home with the kids. It won’t be as fun without her.

The second part deals with underwear, so I’ll keep it brief. I could only round up about half of what I needed in packing for the week. I’ll have to utilize a local laundry service here, find an area haberdashery for reinforcements, or go summer camp-style. (Don’t act like you’ve never done it.)

Third, my already-unmanageable mop of hair was completely out of control. It wasn’t just what my buddy, Steve, has always called “the big hair;” this had become a threat to homeland security, as evidenced by the suspicious stares from airport screeners wondering what gels or pastes I had hidden up there.

If you’ve ever wondered, “What doofus would be so grossly ill-prepared for travel and brazenly daring that he’d risk getting snipped by an airport barber?” Scroll down to the bottom of this page, and you’ll get the picture. The barber shop in DFW’s Terminal B has photos on the wall from famous people who’ve been through there. Sports stars and assorted celebrities like Joe Theismann, Jimmy Dean – the sausage guy, not the Rebel – and the Sanford and Son daily double of Redd Foxx and Demond Wilson. I was maybe 10 minutes into the cut before I realized, I don’t like any of those guys’ hair.

But it was actually fine. My stylist was Holly, a native of Vietnam who came to the U.S. six years ago. Assuming Holly was an Americanized moniker, I asked what her real name was. She said she couldn’t tell me because it’s a bad word in English. So the rest of the cut I debated whether or not to ask her if she’d seen the infamous Seinfeld episode or perhaps even inspired it. I chickened out, paid up, and went on my way, freshly shorn.

Speaking of chicken, I always laugh when I pass an Au Bon Pain after a flight attendant told me the pilots call it Abdominal Pain. (If you just read that last sentence, it means my editor confirmed Au Bon Pain isn’t one of our sponsors. It also means they probably won’t be anytime soon.)

When I saw the itinerary for the overnight flight from Chicago to London, I knew it wasn’t going to end well. It’s an eight-hour haul that drops you off at Heathrow at 8 a.m. local, which is 2 a.m. according to the body you left the U.S. in. Now, you could try to sleep the entire eight hours and hit the ground running the next morning in London. But that would mean passing up two full meals and, thus, violating the International Brotherhood of Broadcasters guiding principle, “If it’s free, it’s for me.”

What airplane food lacks in flavor, it more than makes up for in mystery. First, where else do you get your nuts warmed but at 30,000 feet? Second, the “steak” is always a bit too malleable. Kind of like you might be eating the love handles of a cow who grew up playing video games all day instead of playing outside with his friends.

Still, I honored the IBB’s mantra, nibbled around on what was offered and proceeded to doze in and out of sleep until the pilot came on and told us we were making our final descent. To prove it, they showed us the plane’s progress as we inched toward London using computer graphics borrowed from the Atari 2600.

After essentially playing Frogger through security lines and customs queues at Heathrow, I boarded my fourth and final plane and arrived in Dublin just a couple of hours ago, a little more weary, a little less hairy, and a whole lot excited about the week to come. Especially if I can find that haberdashery.

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