The underlying theme

In the film version, this scene starts with a close shot of a white ball on a green tee, a one-wood whooshing and clinking solidly, a ball soaring off towards the green.

In this version, the real one, the club head comes in too high, conks the top of the ball, ball dribbles thirty yards into the rough. I mumble fuck, and Jamie turns to the trio of grumbly old men behind us, their beer-bellies spilling over polo shirts tucked into shorts, says y’all play through. They grunt, waddle up, don’t argue. They hit their balls and putter off in their carts.

When they’re far enough ahead, with no one behind, Jamie grabs a couple of Bartles & Jaymes, hands me one. We usually walk the course, but today we have a cart, just like the beer-bellies. A cooler sits between us, we’re practically adults. Jamie’s swing is better than mine, he hits a decent tee-shot. Me, I slice when I do make contact. But my short game is a thing of beauty, and if I kick the ball down the fairway or pick it up and drop it in range of a 7-iron, I’m almost good.

We let a lot of bellies play through. This gives us time in the shade under a live oak, kicked back in the cart. Time to be underage and hide our bottles, waiting, shooting the shit until the coast is clear. Which on a weekday afternoon, in this heat, comes more often than not.

Coach Wood doesn’t even look up from his desk in the field house, just absently extends his thick, hairy arm to accept our score cards. He doesn’t do any coaching either, not for golf anyway. His mind is on his playbook, working up an offense for the JV team, working hard to get back to varsity. I doubt he knows our names, doesn’t know or doesn’t care we play The Hills course by ourselves, not the The River with the rest of the team. The rest of the team definitely doesn’t know our names. Golf is not a team sport anyway, I figure, just a P.E. credit. I hear some of those guys are good, though. One will go on to join the tour, go pro.

We turn in our cards in batches once every couple of weeks, never after a round. That would not be very smart.

On the drive home, I’m pretty gone. Jamie’s fine, it’s a different kind of adventure for him. He’s exploring the adult world, fancies himself all grown up. Me, I’m leaning out the open window, shouting woo! look at me, I’m drinking, having fun, wouldn’t it be great to be me? It’s not a Rolls Royce, it’s a station wagon with fake wood panelling peeling off the sides, but it’s wheels, freedom. The intoxication of that, plus the other kind, the real kind.

Jamie slaps me on the shoulder, says “Dude!” He’s pointing out his window, the driver’s side. My head back inside the wagon, I squint out his widow at the SUV alongside us, sun setting behind it. It’s Rachel, and her sister, their mom driving.

Holy shit! I whisper, climbing over him to shout out his window. “Girls!” I call, waving. “Girls, girls… hello, girls!” I slap Jamie on the shoulder. “Stop the car, stop the car.”

Jamie just laughs, shakes his head. We’re stopped already, at a red light.

“It’s wonderful to see you, girls,” I cry. I inflect it just like Dudley Moore. Like Arthur.

They smile, laugh, shake their heads with a quizzical look that says this is awkward, what is this, confused. Their mom is in shadow, can’t see her face, probably not smiling.

The light changes, Jamie floors it, we peel off ahead of them, me waving, Jamie laughing and saying “I can’t believe that just happened!”

Because in the shade under the live oak, in the golf cart, feet kicked up, Bartles & Jaymes in hand, I tell him how I wish I’d bump into Rachel somewhere. At the store, in the mall, on the road. I just want to see her. Anywhere I go. Everywhere I go.

I’d fallen for her in elementary school and never looked back. We were together for about six weeks as freshmen. She broke it off, broke me. I was very breakable at the time. Most of the time. Probably something she sensed, why she dropped me. I figured that out eventually.

Now I have a reason to give her a call, and that’s what I wanted, why I wanted to see her somewhere, sometime. All the time. This will go on, this feeling, for years. This need. These needs. They transcend her. And time. And space.

Windows down on the road, driving nowhere in the wind, just driving. Rush’s “Limelight” on the radio, only a few years old, not yet classic rock. The sun sinks below the horizon but it’s still light out.

“We can’t go home yet,” says Jamie.

He’s right, we can’t. I can’t. Not like this. That would not be very smart.


This is Part 5 in a series of “flash-memoir” posts that stand alone, more or less, but also link together to tell a longer story. Part 1 is here, and if you’d like, here are linky-links to Parts 2, 3, 4.

13 thoughts on “The underlying theme

  1. BE self-indulgent. I mean, look who’s advising you on that…
    Seriously, though — I knew that song lyric right away. It’s a good ‘un, so’s this.
    Like the detail about the mom’s face obscured in the shadow, very real. All of it, flowy. Snow-globey.


    • What did they say about self-indulgence in your memoir class? Is there a way to do it without being self-indulgent? Methinks maybe not. Glad you got the song reference, I figured that’s an obscure one, but it seemed to fit the shabang.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well, they didn’t touch on “self-indulgence” because to write memoir I think that’s assumed. It’s just your frame, if you see that as a good or a bad thing. I loved your stories here so far and “indulged” in them myself. I often think of those song lyrics, same with “Spirit of Radio.” Better playback in the mind than in reality. Ta-huh, huh? Get that layered reference there? Welcome to the Patina club.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. This reminded me of my dad. He was one of the big bellies on the golf course. And I knew the Rush reference before I got to the end of the post title. You still golf? I’ve never been on a course. Never held a club. You didn’t need to be athletic, but you needed cash and I was always in short supply.


    • You definitely don’t need to be ‘athletic.’ I’m reasonably athletic but I couldn’t hit a golf ball then and I certainly can’t do it now. Except for the frustration of swinging and missing all the time, walking around a golf course with your buddies on a summer day is fantastic.


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