I don’t like to think as my wife as long-suffering, however…
Extended male absence is a good place to start because it’s not a game that can be played quickly. Although, in a male dominated house (5:1) any male absence could probably be interpreted as a positive?
But that said, once said male/s return home – usually in time for dinner, the conversation tends to be dominated by this game. How the player fared. What went wrong and right. The bad luck and the brief moments of joy and none of which Nikki is able to contribute to.
No surprise then that Nikki has finally taken up the hardest game of all. A game with a tiny stationary ball, where errors are compounded over enormous distances and yet the hardest shots can be the shortest. This game is Nikki golf and the Holland males are expectant.
A comic friend of mine who shall remain nameless (you’ll see why) was speaking at a golf dinner and following Rory McIroy – the world no.1 at the time and all-round sports deity. Asked about the protracted nature of golf, Rory gave a lengthy reply bemoaning how long a round of golf takes and that the game must be speeded up.
Upon which my friend took to the stage and opened with this…
“Fuck sake, Rory, we play this game to get away from our wives. And you want to speed the game up.”
Now, whatever you think of this sentiment will depend on many things but it brought the house down and might be an indictment on the men present.
Had I been there, I would have howled because it’s a good joke and a great opening – but I can admit to this because I can also able to prove my progressive credentials because it is me who has encouraged my wife to take up the game. I bought her a set of clubs – years back now which have been gathering dust until now.
And this means that I am keen to spend even more time with Mrs H.
Although, this doesn’t mean that all is plain sailing on the golf course when we go out for nine holes.
“I am never playing 18 holes.”
On the course, I am mindful of the mountain that Nikki faces. In the main, golf is a game played well by people who took it up in their youth. Golf is like learning to read – the earlier the better.
So on the course I am patient and I err heavily on encouragement. I eek out positives wherever I can.
‘Yes, it’s gone in a bush but at least you hit it.’
‘No, it’s not gone far but it’s gone straight.’
Playing last week, I was being what I think is helpful, offering suggestions to go with my encouragement, when Nikki finally snapped.
“Shut up, Dom. You talk too much. Stop telling me things. Just be quiet.”
I accepted this rebuke calmly as I waded in to the bramble thorns again in search of her favourite ball which happens to be pink. This is odd, since the clubs I bought came with a white bag emblazoned with a flash of pink – which was rejected for being too ‘girly’. I don’t point out this inconsistency with her ball, I just get on with finding the fucking thing. Silently.
But I can report that great progress is being made. Other wives in our friendship groups are even toying with the idea of joining Nikki.
‘We can all play together and even go on golfs holidays together…’
Steady on, the men think but don’t vocalise, obviously.
But I am delighted that Nikki is finally playing. When Tom and Harry call home from NY – she proudly reports on her progress – and this is a good thing.
But there is some way to go. I have been playing for more than half my life and I remain largely piss-poor.
And there are challenges outside of the game also. Marital challenges that men will always wrestle with and will never prevail.
During our last outing – the same round where I spoke too much – on the final hole, Nikki hit a great shot. In to the air, of some distance and remaining in view once it had stopped.
As instructed, I said nothing.
“Well say something then.”