It’s high summer, the Gulf oil spill seems to be capped, so time for something lighter here… a bit of fun. Please note, dear friends and acquaintances, that the following is an amalgam of conversations/experiences over the years; no one should feel recently or personally incriminated! 🙂
It always begins as the most pleasant, the most innocent, of inquiries, asked with so much anticipation, as if the asker and I are about to be fast-tracked into understanding one another perfectly.
“Do you golf?”
I could say, “Yes, isn’t it wonderful?” and then I’d be inside, I’d be a Someone Who’s Grasped the Good-life Secret.
But where would such subterfuge get me? Next thing I know, we’d be booking a game and the truth would have to come out.
Better to admit it.
“No. No, I don’t golf.”
Following this, disappointment or even pity may hang in the air. (I guess we won’t be tight after all.)
But sometimes the asker’s hopeful enthusiasm is simply re-directed. Attempts to ferret out my reasons and then overcome them begin in earnest. (Many golfers, I’ve noticed, tend to be zealous on the game’s behalf.)
I find myself going lame with excuses. I find myself strangely defensive. Inarticulate.
But I do try. I try to meet every argument thrown my way.
I don’t know why, I say, it just doesn’t appeal to me. I don’t mean to be golfist, but it just looks… Oh I don’t know, I’m sure it’s wonderful and I really don’t mind if the rest of you love it, but it looks boring and rather silly to me. It’s expensive too and I’ve observed it’s addictive, in a fresh and mild way of course, perfectly harmless, I’m sure. Plus, it’s time-consuming, don’t you find? Yes, I know it’s wonderful exercise, walking the course, with the sunshine and trees and water and the green so relaxing on the eyes and everything. But I do walk. I’m actually quite a walker, and not just on a treadmill either. I get out into nature. Especially in summer, when everything’s green. And – here I chuckle, reaching for self-deprecation – without any worries about connecting my club with that little white ball.
Ah… so it’s fear? Of doing badly, not succeeding, not winning? The probe comes gently, almost professionally. But the assurances are warm: it’s not how well you play, it’s all about fun. Recreation.
Well – and I seem to be muttering by now – this has got to be a first then, that the score doesn’t matter. I can’t quite believe it. — I’ll confess it though. I hate making a fool of myself.
But, I surge with additional protest, aren’t these tiny nuggets of real choice the privilege of adulthood? I recall too many humiliations in school sports-related activities, and I still have enough things that I don’t enjoy but slog through necessarily anyway, like ironing or making phone calls. Why would I add hours of flailing about on vast razor-cut lawns with nine or eighteen holes in them?
This last burst of passion may inspire a pause. Then, smilingly, the romantic card – the it’s-such-a-nice-activity-for-a-couple card – is pulled out and played. Golfing can be relaxing and intimate, I’m told, both partners looking good, feeling great. A kind of foreplay.
I’m sure it must be true, but when I think of golfing together I think of canoeing together and how my dear spouse and I once came back – steaming – to the dock. After you’ve been married the decades we have, you know with an untried certainty that some activities will not be romantic.
But, as I’ve said, I walk, and we walk, and sometimes we also bike to ice-cream places and converse in soft and gentle tones about what flavour we’ll buy this time. Another good bet is a drive in the car out to Lockport where we watch the pelicans and the water and maybe the lock opening and closing. It may not be the world’s hottest aphrodisiac, but it raises no hackles either.
I’m lucky, I suppose. I don’t need to golf for reasons of work. In what I do, I don’t have deals to close or networks that can’t be fostered in other ways. I have compassionate thoughts, in fact, for those who have to golf because of their jobs and may need to hide the fact that they’re as disinclined, as inept, as I am. Altogether it seems a slightly bizarre and truly modern tragedy.
I’m also aware that I may be missing some vital component in my spiritual development by never learning to golf, some lessons that might layer my inner journey, maybe get me to my goals on, or even under, par. I’ve seen the books in bookstores on topics like this. Golf and the game of life type of thing.
But, I think, won’t suffering come to me on its own, without me having to go out and pay for it?
Or could I be madly mistaken about everything? Could golf be so seductive, so fulfilling, that all who exclaim the love, truly have it? That time and money is always available for what you love, if you just give yourself to loving it? This argument feels circular to me, but maybe that’s the problem with the minds of the poorer or middle classes.
No, really, I don’t mean to offend, it just doesn’t draw me, if you know what I mean, but I’m fine with it being there, as a sport, or obsession if you will, and I won’t deny the social disadvantages of my position out here at the edge of the green. But please, do have a ball, bogey, birdie, or whatever it is, without me. I’m really awfully sorry—
Yes, lovely to meet you too.
I think there comes a time in adulthood when we are simply free to do what we want and not do what we don’t want.
Maybe as a suggestion, the next time someone asks if you golf, you might say no, and then follow on with “do you read fiction?”.
Brilliant! I just went out for my annual golf-outing with family last week and it was pretty gruesome viewing, I must say. Pity the groundskeeper that has to clean up after my butchery of the course… I resonate oh so deeply with this post :).
Dora…thank you for the laughs.
I hear ya! In gym class I could never get the golf ball to fly farther than six feet, and the direction it flew was anybody’s guess! I feel the same way when someone asks me to play a card game: it’s my junior high math exam all over again, except now the whole room knows when I fail! And people do this for fun?
Thanks all, for your comments and commiserations!