Friday, May 30, 2003

Back to the Range

When Soo sees that I’ve been imagining conversations between birds and then using those hallucinations to counter an anti-Keynesian movement pervasive in today’s government, she sends me to hit balls. Hey, whatever it takes.
So, I left our little sanctuary and rolled over the Agate Passage Bridge, past the casino, past the final resting place of Seattle’s namesake, and back to that swath of land off South Kingston Road. This time Interrogator Bob wasn’t there. A couple of guys were chipping around the “green” out front. That looked like a good idea, so I put on my golf shoes and went out to work on my short game. It’s the first to go, right before your libido and your memory, or is it the other way around. Man does not live by the big stick alone (or words to that effect).
A fine mist had started to fall, but nothing to prevent me from knocking a few balls around. Again, I was impressed with the setup of this little operation. There was no need for the proprietors to go to the great expense of putting in a real putting green when all they really needed was this, a patch of low mown grass to practice with the little sticks. After about 45 minutes, the rain started to pick up and I decided to move to the shelter of the barn. There were three guys already pounding away. I bought a big bucket of balls from the kid in the shack and assumed my spot in front of the mirror. I hadn’t gotten through half the bucket when a guy came up and started watching me. He was standing with his back to a picture of Ben Hogan mid-swing and facing me. The juxtaposition between Hogan’s technical perfection and my mad swipes must have seemed extreme. I put another ball on the rubber practice tee and began to waggle, but the guy’s presence was finally too much to ignore. I turned and just looked at him.
“Hi there,” he said with undue jocularity, “I’m not bothering you, am I?”
“No,” I lied, “I was just wondering if you needed anything.”
“You must be the guy from Las Piedras Island,” he replied, with an odd nod at my shoes and complete disregard for my perturbation.
Exasperated, I said, “What, do you guys compare notes at the Lodge?”
“Ha, ha, no, down at the bar. Not much goes on around here.”
“’Here’ meaning Kingston?”
He had taken a step forward and stood holding a fairway wood, “Well, yeah, not much goes on in Kingston, but even less goes on around here,” and he said it with a sweep of the club to encompass the range and adjoining environs.
“So you, Bob and the boys sit around the bar and talk about, what, everybody you don’t know who comes to the range?”
“Not that many people we don’t know come to this range,” he said matter of factly.
“That’s what Bob said,” I said.
“Yeah, well, even Bob gets it right some times.”
“And, who are you?” I asked, not pleasantly, but not unpleasantly either. I wanted these guys to understand I just wanted to be left alone.
“Jacob, Jake,” he said extending his hand.
“Nice to meet you Jacob Jake,” I lied again and shook his hand.
“Just Jake,” he corrected my purposeful mistake.
“Well, still nice to meet you just Jake. Are we done, or do you have more questions for me, because I’d kinda like to just finish hitting these balls.”
“Oh, yeah, sure,” he said backing up apologetically. “Go right ahead, sorry to interrupt. I just wanted to say, ‘hello.’”
“Very kind of you.” I don’t know why I was being so terse. I’m usually a very friendly person. I just felt as if my personal space was being violated.
Jake went away. I consciously ignored everyone else and just hit the rest of my golf balls. When I was done Jake was already gone. I took off those tell-tale white FootJoys, got in the car and drove home thinking I could just as easily drive south to Bremerton to play golf.

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