I was 16 and trying to figure out what to do with my life. I got hired at the golf course a few months back and now it was the off season. I wasn’t working much and the job was slow. So, I cleaned out the gutters and the drains and waited for the dirtiest golf carts to come back. The course changes in the winter. There’s a constant drizzle. And players use gas heaters to keep warm. These types work blue collar jobs and have a spot on the men’s club. You might find them on community bowling leagues. They go unnoticed in society and the city depends on them when the power fails or the sewage lines back up. The greens freeze over and the winds brings down tree limbs, and they’re in denial that the course in unplayable. Their ponchos and pant legs get drenched. Their balls plug in the mud. It’s 33 degrees and nostalgia keeps them going. I tried to stay inside. Hypothermia was real. And I talked to the janitors to pass the time.
“You know, we just hired a man from Mississippi. He has a pony tail and he’s a misogynist.”
“A what?” I asked.
“He hates women. You should hear some of the things he says.”
“Like what does he say?” I asked.
Bonita gave me a disapproving smile. She was in her late 40s with bags under her eyes and dyed black hair. She wore low-cut tops and jeans that exposed her beer belly. I was just a curious kid without much knowledge of relationships.
“He thinks men are better than women,” Bonita said. He has an ego.”
“Find a nice girl Andy and treat her right.”
“I’m workin on it,” I said.
I left her to clean a golf cart caked in mud and reeking of BO. There were unused golf tees in there, bubble gum wrappers, chewing tobacco, and beer cans stuffed in the cubby holes.
The river was rising near my neighborhood and people were sandbagging. The next-door-neighbor was worried because water kept squirting out of her lawn. Her house was built on a concrete foundation that was shifting towards the river. Soon, parts of the neighborhood were evacuated. The flood was moving so fast that it piled up in the center. It was brown with white caps. Uprooted trees charged downstream like battering rams. I was excited by disaster and I didn’t think about the consequences of losing my home.
Back at the golf course…
Diehard players were dispersing. I think it was the ice storm. And I overheard the head pro talking.
“The course sits on an old river bed. When the flood shifts just this much, we could be underwater.”
The next day, it happened. A current plowed through the forest and washed across fairways 4, 5, and 7. It was 4 feet deep in some places and the boss had us out there in an aluminum boat with an outboard motor collecting flagsticks and anything else we could. It was dangerous, but I loved it.
I was in the boat with Greg and Dave. “This beats being at home any day,” Greg said.
“Same here; my wife is on my case,” Dave complained. “She just wants to smoke and drink and she doesn’t watch the boys. They’re in middle school now and they’ll have a girl pregnant before they get to the 9th grade. I’m still trying to teach ’em different, but they’re like me when I was their age. I thought with my little head and married the wrong woman. Keep that in mind, Andy. Your little head will get you into trouble.”
“Thanks Dave,” I said sarcastically.
Greg corrected me. “No really, you have to be careful out there. Women are not to be trusted. You’re free now, but just wait. In 5 years, you could be married.”
“Really guys… women can’t be that bad.”
They raised their eyebrows and looked at each other. “He’ll find out.”
We collected the pins, some tee markers, and trash cans. And I thought about what Greg and Dave told me. I just wanted to do something I loved and leave the rest of the world behind. Maybe there were a lot more lessons to learn. So, I decided to keep my mouth shut and my ears open and be ever mindful of my little head.