Common Sense on a Golf CourseÂ Â Â My middle brother TJ still thinks he can fix me. Every couple of months, between his business trips and vacations, we end up spending some time together doing something that is both recreational and a good excuse for the two of us to catch up. This time it was golf.
To imagine me on the golf course, all you need know is this: I could do equally well with a garden rake, sledge hammer, wooden baseball bats and a warped pool cue as a set of the finest clubs from Callaway. It has to be a good ten years since the last misadventure. I do have a legitimate excuse. Golfing is a right-handed game and I am (severely) left-handed. In fact, I only use my right arm for typing, lifting, hugs and dancing. Oh, and letâ€™s not start on dancing: Iâ€™m like Bruce Springsteen with two left feet.
Back in the 90s when I was General Sales Manager at a SE PA TV station, I made feeble attempts to improve my game. When it came time to play, I could always count on my good friend George to bust my chops, ala Bill Murray style. â€œHe slices. He dices. He makes mounds of coleslaw.â€
To say I suck at golf would be as much of an understatement as saying Tiger Woods plays an â€˜okay gameâ€™. Iâ€™d have a better chance at a good game if I picked up the ball, lobbed it in the air and whacked it with an aluminum baseball bat.
TJ loves picking games he knows I have no chance of winning against him. It must be a â€˜younger brotherâ€™ thing.
By the time we reach the club, TJ had already interrogated me about my workaholic tendencies and life in general. Heâ€™s always been adept at dancing around the mine field but still checking to see if the explosives are viable. So as not to seem overly elusive, this all results from a loss I experienced at this time of year many years ago: A loss with which Iâ€™m still learning to cope. TJ is also familiar with my loss. Every year at this time, Iâ€™m affected by the ghosts of my past. TJ being TJ, he tries to fix it or to at least do a â€˜systems checkâ€™ to make sure Iâ€™m not heading somewhere into the deep emotional recesses of depression.
Before the first hole, he had skillfully maneuvered to the subject of significant othersâ€¦ as in, were there any. Not wanting to play two games at once, I was honest, withholding very few details. I told him I had met someone online and that things had developed beyond simple mutual interest. Of course, he lectured me about the age gap, wondered if I had thought about all the challenges it was bound to present, focusing mostly on whether I had allowed infatuation to cloud my judgment.
I could feel myself growing quiet and by hole three, I had all but withdrawn from the conversation.
The overcast skies became heavier with each hole, matching my mood. The course itself was barren, there was no one coming up behind us to play the previous hole. For all I knew, he had somehow arranged it.
â€œHere,â€ he said, dropping a large zip-lock bag of old golf balls in front of me. â€œThis will cure what ails you.â€
â€œWhat the hell are they for?â€ I asked, feeling a curious smile crossing my lips.
â€œYeah, exactly.â€ He opened up the bag and kicked a dimpled ball over to me. â€œJust shoot for the water hazard.â€
â€œYou heard me,â€ he smiled back. â€œJust hit the blasted things as hard as you can. Letâ€™s see how many of them we can get into the drink.â€
Over the next 20-30 minutes, my brother and I reverted into bad kids again. Instead of throwing rocks at the windows of abandoned factories, we were intentionally slicing golf balls a good few hundred yards into the biggest hole you can find on the golf course. We each must have hit 20 hole-in-ones.
When all the balls were gone, we were both tired and drenched with rain.
Looking at me, he asked, â€œDo you love her?â€
â€œYeah, I really think I do,â€ I responded without hesitation.
â€œThen thatâ€™s all that really matters,â€ he replied slapping my shoulder. â€œDoesnâ€™t matter what I think or what anyone else thinks.â€ He taps my chest. â€œLet your heart decide.â€
TJ has always known exactly what to do to keep me from sinking too far into the abyssâ€¦ or digging a new one.