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Thursday, December 01, 2005

Why I Love Golf

I love golf. The setting sun over the mountains. The cool November L.A. afternoon air. Oh, I admit that it is not really Nature. The courses at Griffith Park are Nature-lite, a manicured, sculpted, tamed, ersatz amusement park form of Nature. But it is wild enough to permit life lessons. Strangers at the first tee become pals by the 18th, like plane crash survivors on the brink of returning to civilization. This guy who joined us is Korean, and by the 18th tee we’re friends of a kind. We have commiserated in our mutual adversity, lost balls, sore feet. The shared experience has bonded us.
In the Asian way, he seeks advice from an elder. Me. “May I ask a stupid question?" he questions. “If you don’t mind a stupid answer,” I answer. The joke crashes the language barrier.
Here’s his question: “Do most men of your age prefer wives or girlfriends?”
A profound question cannot be answered lightly. BC has a different view. “What about both?”
“I have both,” the guy says. “That’s the problem. I read ‘Men are Mars, Women Jupiter.’ I don’t understand it.”
Obviously, but I gently correct him. “‘Women are from Venus.’ It means women care about Love, men about War.”
BC adds, “Men aren’t meant to be monogamous, women are. There’s the problem, right there.”
“Oh,” the guy says. “That’s why my girlfriend makes trouble. She was happy, but lately she makes trouble for me.”
So I am forced to lecture. “Instability is the rule.” I quote Woody, translating into Kor-lish: “Relationship like shark, must keep moving or die. One of your sharks is doomed. Maybe both.”
“But she was so happy. My wife, too.”
I add the corollary: “Dying sharks are the most dangerous.”
The guy is now alarmed. I can’t resist. I embellish: “Men share, women are selfish. A woman always wants the man to herself. Sharing is not an option — not for long.”
The guy slices his drive into the woods.

Walking to the cars, BC says, “He asked me if you were a doctor.”
“What’d you tell him?”
“That you were a plumber.”
In the gathering chilly gloom, we walk in silence for a while. Our clubs clank in our bags in rhythm to our strides. As I reach my car, I shout, “Experience is the father of wisdom.”
It takes BC a while to think of an appropriate comeback, “And you’re the father of bullshit.”
You can learn a lot from golf.