Heartbreak on the Back 9

I went golfing for the first time today. Kevin, Kelly, Matt, Frank and I played the back turn at the Heather-Highlands in Holly.

In short I find I have a straight and fairly consistent drive, though with a tendency to strike the ball higher than long; I have no use for the irons, long or short, they're all atrocious; I'm a wizard with the woods; and I'm mostly reasonable on the greens.

The best player with us was Frank and even he only managed to bring in one bogey hole. Everything else was doubles, triples, quadruples, and mercy scores.

Combined, the five of us managed to be the slowest thing on the course. In all it took us over four hours to play eight holes! That's right, eight. We were so slow, such a nuisance to the pairs behind us, and so haggered by four hours baking in the sun that we called it at the 17th. Actually, at the time we were all convinced the 17th was the 18th. When we discovered another 402yds stood yet unconquered, we rose the white flag. In fact, most of them didn't even putt-in that last hole we shot, feeling the pressure of the two groups waiting at the tees behind us... I putted in. 5 on a par 3. One of my better holes, actually.

Let me try to draw my scorecard, all ANSI-fied - I may or may not be using a monospace font, but you'll get the gist.

Par   4 | 4 | 5 | 3 | 4 |  5  | 4 | 3 | 4 | 36
Roy   7 | 9 | 7 | 6 | 7 | 10 | 7 | 5 | x | 58

I don't think my figures are that bad for a first time, and even when compared to the rest of the group. Most everyone came in around sixty. In fact I had the second best score of the day. Frank beat me by five strokes.

I had fun. It was a good time. I only lost one ball in the weeds and to make up for it I found one in the woods. I'll definitely add a small bottle of sunscreen to my golf bag from now on, in case I should ever find myself again, stuck on the sixteenth hole at high noon with four other guys, swatting away at 3200yds.

When our merry band dispersed from the Highland fields I stopped off quickly at the bank and then immediately drove to Dunham's. For the purpose of our match I'd borrowed a putter from Frank and I figured I should pick up my own. Actually I wouldn't have bothered buying a putter immediately, except that two days earlier I'd met a girl at Dunham's who had made me believe again in love at first sight. Really, I was floored. For just a moment she helped me try to find a strap for my golf bag and between her beauty, voice, and manner, I was a goner. Without going into too much of the details I knew I had to go back and ask her out. Buying a putter was as fine an excuse as any to get me through the door.

When I parked the van I saw her out front. Dunham's has been having a sort of sidewalk sale, clearance thing for a few weeks now and someone always has to be out there to make sure the filthy urchin children don't walk off with the loot. Seeing that she was there I spun the gears of my plan into action.

I went in, tried some putters, found the one I wanted, bought it, got back in my car, and drove away. Ah, step one complete.

... Wait for it.

From Dunham's I drove to a florist's at the top of the hill that separates Clarkston and Waterford and bought a single lavender rose. Lavender roses, I'd looked up, symbolize enchantment and love at first sight; at least to the people who think that kind of stuff up.

I returned to Dunham's and in a rare moment of universal perfection found her utterly alone at the building's front. I climbed into the back of the van and dismantled the little arrangement the florist had made. She had shoved all that baby's breath junk in there and, not that it didn't look nice, but what I really wanted was the lone rose. With all that stuff around it it becomes a scene, of which for sure the flower is the star, but just as well a player on a busy and distracting stage. It makes the whole thing ornamental; the rose is just a rose; just a pretty flower wrapped in thin green cellophane. Alone it's more. Alone it carries and demands its own weight and meaning. It's a symbol. To be appreciated and considered as something unique. Alone it represents affection, wonder, and the potential of love.

I approached her with the rose hidden well behind my back. She saw me and recalled me. "Back again?" she said smiling. For a moment I thought that she'd remembered me from the two day's earlier, that perhaps she too had felt the strange and powerful whirl of sudden aliveness I had then. But I couldn't let my unlikely romanticisms get out of hand, here.

I asked her name. Erin. I'm Roy. "Do you remember me? I was in here two days ago..." She looked up and off to one side, as if digging through her mind. I see. She had only remembered me from earlier today, when I bought the golf club.

I continued, "I was looking for a strap for a golf bag." "Oh, right and we didn't..." she trailed off.

I looked at her for a moment in silence, trying to arrange my words; trying to recall and deliver the loosely contrived speech I'd practiced in the van on the way in. I looked away, feeling awkward and nervous as I began.

"Well, I don't know exactly what to say..." I took a deep breath and looked again into her eyes, "except that I was utterly enchanted by you, at the first sight of you, at the sound of your voice." Slowly I delivered these practiced lines, pausing between each sentence fragment, trying hard to think clearly under the weight of anticipation, nervousness, and the fear of looking foolish.

"Oh," she cooed in a sweetly sorrowful sort of way.

"So," I said, "this is for you," as I revealed the lavender rose, setting it in her hands. She cooed some more in the beginnings of broken sentences that simultaneously conveyed appreciation and a sad sort of empathy. I knew it did not bode well.

"I'm here to ask if you'd like to come out on a date with me some time."

She stuttered in search of the gentlest words. "Oh, I'm... I'm sorry... I'm sorry, but I have... a relationship."

How cruel fate.

I had decided, long before I'd come, that in this eventuality I must still, though delicately, offer her my phone number. It's so incredibly rare that I'm attracted to anyone at all, let alone struck like I had been here. I count it only the second time in my life that I had been so instantly floored by a woman; by merely standing in her presence. In my desperate appreciation for the rareness of this event I had no choice, despite what callousness finds in it, but to tender every hope and chance I could of bringing up this seed to fruit.

"If you don't find it insulting, would you at least let me give you my number?" She shook her head. "I can't. I'm sorry. Unfortunately," she sighed and smiled sympathetically, "I'm taken."


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