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Friday, June 22, 2012

I nearly killed a weatherman golfing



I almost did the unthinkable this week while golfing at Latrobe Country Club. I nearly killed the only man there with the potential to be more famous than Arnold Palmer.
Yes, I nearly killed a local weatherman.
He’s Scott Harbaugh, a forecaster for WPXI-Channel 11, Pittsburgh. That’s the station we watch for the same reasons most discerning news consumers watch theirs: the anchors all look nice and cuddly.
Scott’s part of that. He’s always come across like a forecast that has people planning for picnics. He’s sunny and pleasant.
As my ball was sailing straight for his noggin -- which was about 70 yards away from where I was aiming -- I wondered how my life would change if I was responsible for ending his.
I’d be a pariah, I knew.
People love weather forecasters. Me, too, as I wrote in this still-popular June 2009 post, “Weatherman is my Superhero.”
You don’t kill Weather Man.
You invite him to be grand marshall in your holiday parade.
Some men like to go to fantasy baseball camps where they shell out big bucks to meet their heroes and rekindle dreams of what it would be like to play pro ball.
Me, I’d like to attend Fantasy Weatherman Camp.
I’d get up early in the morning, banter with the chipper co-anchors as we applied our hangover-concealing make-up, and try to look professional as they filmed the action promos where I’m studying weather systems the way Ike did on D-Day.
Then . . . Show Time!
It’d be no stylish business suit for me. Instead, I’d wear a long flowing robe like the kind the artists depict God wearing when they want to convey omnipotence.
Because there’s something so God-like about beaming to the universe with almighty authority just what the world will be like five days hence. In fact, I wish they would try their hand at predictions outside meteorological realms.
“A low pressure system will bring sunny skies, the Pirates will sweep Detroit at PNC Park and Lindsay Lohan will find love and stability in time for the weekend, which includes a chance of scattered showers -- details after traffic!”
Happily, fate intervened and I did not smite Scott, nor his father, with whom he was golfing in the group directly behind us.
My ball ricochetted off the top of the golf cart behind which they ducked when they heard us scream, “Fore!”
I immediately felt terrible. My friend tried to cheer me up by telling me it was maybe the most remarkable shot of the day.
“The putting surface is maybe 50 times times the size of that golf cart,” he said. “Yet, you were able to catapult a golf ball off that tiny roof. Amazing.”
Another friend decided to be controversial. He approached the Harbaughs and said the last words I spoke before teeing up were: “Watch this: I’m going to kill that son of a bitch.”
Happily, they took it all in good humor. It would have been justified if the weatherman had experienced a reaction that could have been characterized as “stormy.”
I was glad because I got to sit next to Scott for dinner and he couldn’t have been more pleasant. Turns out, like me, he, too, studied journalism at -- link alert! -- Ohio University, the nation’s no. 1 party school.
He told a great self-effacing story about his days forecasting weather in Bluefield, West Virginia.
Conditions indicated an emerging storm could either be a whopper or a non-event. He relied on his expertise, consulted colleagues and eventually told his audience not to sweat it.
Well, you can guess what happened. Bluefield got hammered; 44-inches of snow.
“I felt really terrible,” he said. “I knew people were counting on me and I let them down.”
Weeks later, he said an old lady approached him in the grocery store, pinched him on the cheek and said, “It’s okay. We still love you.”
So I’m relieved I didn’t kill a man who can inspire that kind of affection.
Plus, I now have friendly access to a man who can help perpetuate what, to me, will be a really nifty prank.
It’s always been a dream of mine to see a weatherman proceed through a routine forecast until it comes to the part where the High and Low pressure systems begin working their way across the screen.
That’s when the weatherman can shriek in terror and yell, “Run for your lives! There’s a giant H about to land on the city!” and dash off the set as startled anchors  try to recover their composure.
It’d be an instant YouTube sensation.
Of course, it’s just as likely that I’ll never see Scott again.
He blew that West Virginia forecast, but I’m sure he can predict nothing but trouble next time he sees me coming.

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