Opinion: A hole in the story


I’m a born-and-bred (mostly Jewish rye) New Yorker, but I’ve lived for 40 years in Indianapolis. I’ve eaten biscuits and gravy for breakfast, lunch and dinner (not all on the same day). I’ve had a pork tenderloin that is four times bigger than the bun, and I even wear shorts when it’s freezing outside. So, I consider myself a Hoosier, but then the other day I was really tested when my wife confronted me with this:

“Dick, the neighborhood is having a big get-together, a chance to meet new people. Masks and social distancing will be required.”

“OK, I’m in.”

“It’s a cornhole contest.”

“OK, I’m out.”

Before playing, I watched some championship matches on YouTube. I felt sorry for the announcers who didn’t have many things to analyze. There were a lot of oohs and aahs. And two wows. They said “it’s a game of inches” about a dozen times.

I wasn’t very good at cornhole that night. But I got to meet a lot of new people: Jill, Kay, Ellen, Steve, another Steve, Cynthia and Bob. Everyone had on a mask, so I don’t have a clue how I’ll recognize them next time Mary Ellen and I walk around the neighborhood. Everyone had a name tag on that night, but it’s awkward to ask people to wear their ID when they walk out their front door for the next year.

Mary Ellen is concerned about the virus, so we were constantly rubbing our hands with sanitizer gel, which is why several of my shots landed not in the hole but in the lake. And despite all the food people had brought, I wasn’t allowed to eat anything because, to quote my wife, “You’ve touched every person’s equipment in the neighborhood.”

I looked up the history of cornhole and there were more than a dozen theories about when the game began and how it got its name. My favorite was from a woman who claims her great grandfather in l899 found some rotten corn and a plank with a hole in it. Her grandfather’s name, she says, was Timothy Cornhole. Hmm, very convenient. If his last name had been Backgammon, well how confusing would that have been?

The day after that neighborhood gathering, I saw a neighbor and I asked him if he had played the previous night, because I didn’t recognize his legs. Peter, who is an engineer, said he would have done better had he taken into account the lubricity of the board. When I got home, I looked up the term “lubricious,” by mistake. If you Google that word, you’ll agree it would have made the game a lot more exciting.