February 1996, 106 Exchange St., New Haven, CT
There is a batch of Thunderegg songs with titles drawn directly from the scorecard of a putt-putt course that used to be on the Boston Post Road in Westbrook, Connecticut, a beautiful postwar throwback with leisurely miniature fairways, the long holes sprawling over vast acreage ultimately far too valuable for the meager returns of $5 a putter: It is long gone, and I do not know what has replaced it, but I bet it’s shitty. During the spring of my senior year of college I played there, soundly defeating my best friend and my girlfriend both—just recalling this in passing—on assignment for the New Haven Advocate. That’s right: “girlfriend.” “On assignment.” Look at this guy and how much he’d arrived. This was really the only kind of assignment I tended to draw. Matters of real consequence eluded me. One time I was supposed to cover a press conference involving the mayor of Stamford and I was too scared to get out of my car.
On the scorecard the holes were named and neatly divided into a front nine and a back nine, looking like a mix tape with two sides, nine songs each. Naturally, I decided to embark on a minigolf concept album. I got cracking with “Dog Leg,” then later “Billiard,” “Lighthouse,” “Double Reverse,” “Windmill,” “Flower Hole,” “Treehouse.” But some of them (man, “Mole Hill”) were bad and I lost interest and never even got around to writing “Sea Gull,” “Double Trouble,” “Covered Bridge,” “School House,” “Looptie Loop,” “Seal,” “Under Hurdle,” “Sea World,” or “Red Barn.”
I was proud of “Dog Leg” at the time. It was one of the last songs I recorded in New Haven before abandoning the haunted house and moving to the city. I thought it had a good bridge. Also, I’d read somewhere that somebody famous used to record vocals in the bathroom, you know, for the reverb, and so that’s what I did, burgeoning pro that I was. I’d just been fired from the coffee shop for being an all-around bad employee: frequently late, sarcastic, and also not very good at making coffee-based beverages. The incident that galvanized my dismissal was getting caught selling a very old, fizzy-tasting mozzarella-and-tomato salad to my girl for less than I should have. On my way out the door, my boss, whom I decided to call Dog Leg here, told me I seemed like somebody she’d like to hang out with, just not have as an employee. I was like, Yeah, right, like I’ll hang out with you now.
Dog Leg, I can’t see you true. Every day I get a different angle on you. And I don’t want to sink another ball in the drink. Dog Leg, you’re not worth it, I guess I’m through.
Dog Leg doesn’t let you walk away without getting in the last word and ruining your day. We’re going to have to let you go, is what Dog Leg will say, even though you were just about to quit anyway.
Dog Leg has these bosses who she can’t interrupt. She wants to be me when she asks me to speak, but she’s them when she tells me to shut up.
Dog Leg looks all right at first, but there’s a lot that you can’t see. And if you hit into her rough, then you’re history. And she can’t fire me, I already Q-U-I-T. I know she did it first, but that’s a technicality.
Dog Leg I still win cause I’ll never have to see your face again.