Sunday, June 23, 2013

People in Houses Shouldn't Throw Golf Balls

The other day I heard a golf ball bouncing on the hardwood floor, followed by the perhaps mistakable sound of the one-year-old blurting out "Ball?!", followed by the very unmistakable sound of my wife declaring, not asking, "What was that," in her "That better not have been something that will break my living room" voice.

The whole sequence was surprising to me. I didn't know my youngest could say "ball." (So proud.) I didn't know someone in this family could innocently toss something without breaking something important. (Who knew?) Most of all I didn't realize we had a real golf ball in the house. (I hate golf.)

Hate, as they say, is such a strong word, and I don't use it lightly. But I really, really hate golf. Not "hate" in the racial sense that makes everyone cringe, not even "hate" in the sense that a guy talks about his on-again, off-again lover as "I hate her," even though he really loves her and enjoys that sort of conquest.

More in the sense that kids hate asparagus. I took one look at golf, saw that you had to wear khakis to play it, and decided I didn't like it. Since then, as I've matured and mellowed and grew to understand new things, I hate it even more. No matter how Big the Bertha I was using, I'd hit nothing but groundballs to short and foul pop files down the right field line. I got more contradicting advice than a Price Is Right contestant, standing there with my body so contorted as I sliced another tee shot onto a different hole's green. And seriously, khakis to do all this?

Watching golf is even worse. The sport's two main characters are a joyless, pompous docuhe-stick (another word I don't use lightly) who screws women and whose only discernible skill after golf is treating the fawning media and fans with scorn and sarcasm, plus an out-of-shape, country-club flake who wears accounting visors and whines that he has to pay taxes. (Though I'd love to find my elementary school gym teacher and remind her that she taught us from an early age that "There's no such thing as a left-handed golfer.") Plus there are guys who have withdrawn from tournaments for toothaches and who have fired their entourage because the golfer himself showed up late for a tournament and was disqualified. Golfers need entourages? Blah.

At any rate, for some reason, my older boy likes it. When he watches the golf highlights, and he sees a beautiful 200-foot approach shot to within 5 feet of the pin, he shouts at the TV, "He missed it!" I had to correct him and let him know that if a golfer gets it so close, you're supposed to clap your hands like you're holding an injured baby bird and shout platitudes such as "You're the man!" and "GET in the HOLE!" Yes, GET in the HOLE! is a platitude. Later, after seeing a poor schlep flub a 6-footer for par, I asked my son rhetorically how the guy could miss that one and he told me, "Yeah but he got it so close!" You're the man, son. Keep practicing your golf clap.

While the presence of a golf ball on the premises was as confounding and unwelcome as that of a Watermelon Oreo, the fact that my younger son can say "ball" is encouraging. Also, he somehow managed, unprovoked, to say "ball" when presented with a Pittsburgh Steeler logo, even though he's lived through just one football boot camp season which ended five months ago. I have no idea how that happened. Everyone tells me that, despite all my parental efforts to the contrary, my three-year-old is "just like" me, including the unhealthy addiction to sports. I worry that I'll forever subconsciously favor him over the other boy, especially if the latter doesn't soon shake this habit of using my toothbrush to clean the toilet. "Ball" is evidence that the younger will force my subconscious to take note.

How awesome would it be to have not one, but two boys who love sports? Even if they play the normal roles that I see in two-boy households. Although it's strictly empirical evidence, I see in most cases where the older boy takes the games so seriously, identifies favorite teams, memorizes all the players' stats and trades the team makes, and then lives and dies with that team each season, while the younger boy understands the game but can't remember any players, knows none of the stats, and maybe openly roots for a rival team just so he can taunt the older brother. I'd take that. Of course with an older sister around who dances and plays the violin, they'll not dodge some of the finer things in life. Both of them have taken an early interest in music, so we won't raise two complete sports-nuts. I don't think.

So go ahead, boys, watch as much golf as you want, but please stop throwing the golf balls in the house, for your mother's sake.

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