Journal entry: September 18, 1999 (age 30) – Back Nine
The family that golfs together…shops for knickers together? I don’t really know how to finish that sentence, because I don’t know what the family that golfs together does. The rest of my family does, so maybe I should ask them. But I’m not speaking to them right now. Or now.
I think I should backtrack a little. This weekend, my parents drove down from Binghamton to stay at my brother Dan’s house in Annapolis, Md. My brother, Bob, and I also live in the Washington, D.C. area, but we can’t compete with Dan, his wife, Mary Jean, their beautiful home, or, more importantly, their one-year-old son, Patrick. This grandchild-ocentric arrangement is understandable, and I’m more than happy to make the drive out to Annapolis to see everyone.
In anticipation of Mom and Dad’s visit, Dan put together plans for a golf outing. Earlier in the week, Dan mentioned that he, Bob, and Dad were looking for a fourth player. I immediately volunteered. I’m not a golfer, but I figured it would be nice to spend the day with my old man and my bros. Dan didn’t specifically reply to my offer, but I figured the simple solution I had offered made it a done deal.
But today, I was informed by Dan and Bob that my golfing services would not be required. A fourth player had been recruited. I asked if our brother, Jerry, our brother, Jim, or our nephew, Michael – all avid golfers – had made a surprise appearance. “No,” said Bob. I asked whether my replacement was, at the very least, a beloved cousin. “No,” said Dan. Sick of one-word answers that didn’t start with “y,” I demanded to know who was taking my spot. Bob replied, “This new guy who works with me at the restaurant.”
I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I’m the world’s worst golfer, but the many others who have made that statement many times have never encountered dissent. I approach the sport less like a round of golf and more like a giant, spread-out version of pick-up sticks. In short, I know that I suck at golf. So does my family. But for my flesh and blood to kick me out of a golf outing in favor of a complete stranger seems harsh. Now I know how Billy Carter, Neil Bush, and Roger Clinton felt when they waited in vain for invitations to state dinners.
I looked back and forth at my two siblings. “You’ve got to be kidding me. Why can’t I play?” Now it was Dan’s turn, and he dropped a fraternal elbow from the top of the paternal turnbuckle. “Dad said you’d slow us down too much.”
Now I’m thinking back to my prepubescent years, and several, very long afternoons during which my father patiently watched me ineffectually swat at golf balls like they were fruit flies. Maybe it’s better for all of us that we avoided reliving that experience.