Point of View: The Countdown Begins

    Hold on to your hats! Extra, extra, hear all about it! The U.S. Open is coming back to Shinnecock in 2018.
    I greeted the news (remember, you read it here last) with utter dread, and wondered if I would be retired and/or dead by then.
    Then, on that same day, I read in a “Health and Science” item in Newsday that “a baby born in 2009 can expect to live 78 years and 2 months,” which gave me hope, since I was born well before then — 69 years before then — that easeful death might overtake me before all the crowds descend and I am once more kept outside the ropes, even as our well-connected weekly competitors from Southampton stroll and loll about within.
    “But your uncle lived to 103,” Mary says whenever I speak hopefully about somehow ducking the assignment.
    “I have to admit you’re right,” I say. “As far as I can tell, there’s nothing wrong with me except for terminal alliteration.”
    “You’re a geriatric jester, Jack. [Aside: Is this catching. . . ? Do they do alliterectomies?] I’m positive you’ll live a long time.”
    “Nurturing negator of negativism,” I say, recalling appalling, galling stonewalling and post-perambulant profanations past, “by 2018, if I follow in my father’s footsteps, I’ll be suffering, not only from advanced alliteration, but from acute agoraphobic anxiety, and will be filing stories from bed. . . . Can you imagine the crowds this Open will attract?! It was bad enough in 2004. It took me an hour — as long as it took to get to Southampton College from East Hampton on the shuttle that day — to walk the last 50 yards to the bridge over the highway after it was over. I remember somebody saying, ‘Next time, they ought to have two bridges . . . make that three.’ ”
    It was in 2004 that the U.S.G.A. — in contrast to 1986 and 1995 — decided to no longer let The Star inside the ropes. When I protested, the spokesman said we, being a weekly, had never been allowed inside the ropes to begin with. I said — politely, of course, in keeping with the nature of the sport — that I had published photos to prove we had. No dice. I had to ante up $65 for a periscope on the final day and trade a well-credentialed photographer The Star’s lone parking space for photos from within the ropes.
    So, no, I’m not looking forward to the 2018 U.S. Open.
    Alex White, who was Shinnecock’s longtime superintendent, told me 25 years ago, when we wrote our advance, that the best place to watch it would be on TV.
    Little did I know then that I would be watching that 1986 Open on TV — in London, Mary having won a free trip there the week before. Maybe she’ll bail me out again. We’ve got seven years to think about it.