In ordinary life, there are routines and roles we fit into. In the grocery store I grabbed two beers before my round, watching the people push their carts like a zig-zagging line. None of them had anywhere to go, except work and the vegetable aisle.
At the golf course, I was on deck, at the number 1 tee, waiting to be paired up with someone.
There was a sheen on the grass that spoke of where I would go and there was no better feeling than to ingest the personalities I would find there.
“The Johnson single and the Mackenzie two-some,” the megaphone shouted. Mackenzie was a man, whom most in civilized society would not consider a man. His beard was at least five days old. He hadn’t cleaned himself. He stank of alcohol, but there was poetry about ‘im, a spring in his step and a cynical style that made me wonder where he came from. He wore wrinkled kakis with suspicious streaks on them. Equally surprising was his golfing buddy, tall, and otherworldly. This duke belonged in a different century. His clothes were classic and his hair was something I saw in a racing magazine.
“How yah doin? I’m Mackenzie.”
I shook his hand. “I’m Andy.”
“This is Lux.” Lux shook my hand.
“Have you played here before?” Lux asked.
“Too many times.”
“The rates are cheap.”
Lux teed off and his ball disappeared. “I’m mailing that to god,” he said.
Mackenzie teed up. He swung his club over the ball like it was a magic wand and kept adjusting his stance until he nearly did the splits. Mackenzie chopped at the ball and missed. “Damn.”
“That was a practice swing,” Lux said. Mackenzie smiled and swung again. This time, it went straight down the fairway. I teed off and hit a draw.
“Are you an instructor?” Mackenzie asked.
“That was only the first shot; if I’m still playing this well after 18, I’ll give you a lesson.”
“What line of work are you in, Andy?” Lux asked.
“I work in public ed.”
“Oh, one of those.”
“Yes; the standards are low and the work is easy; plus, we get to make a difference.”
“I see. Is that what you want to be doing?”
“That’s a difficult question and it might take a few more holes to answer.”
Mackenzie was like a slug that zig-zagged from one missed shot to another, leaving a trail of divots, and empty beer cans. It was getting hot, so hot, that the dew on the grass was evaporating into steam. Lux walked through it and hit another shot, right next to the pin. He didn’t sweat. He didn’t drink any water. He hit another perfect shot and I started to wonder if he might not be human.
“Were you a pro?” I asked.
“Oh no, this is a game I play to recover from the other games I play.”
“And what are those?”
“Like you said, it might take a few more holes to answer.”
We kept playing and Mackenzie went out of his mind, and started striking the ball better.
“FORE!” He yelled at the group ahead of us.
“That was a 300-yard drive, Mackenzie.”
“I think beer makes me better,” he said.
“I want to be a poet,” I told Lux.
“You can’t make a lot of money doing that,” he said.
“I know, but I have this idea I got in college when I felt like the world was foolish. I’ll do the foolish things and be successful at them. It won’t make sense because life doesn’t make sense.”
“You know… there’s a way things are supposed to be and people aren’t happy until they get there and when they arrive, they still aren’t happy. It’s the foolish man who becomes the happy man. To succeed at that is genius.”
I looked at Lux. He wasn’t human. “Maybe Mackenzie achieved that?” I said.
“No; he’s just a drunk.”
We finished our round and I wondered whom I had played golf with. There was always a chance of seeing them again, but I didn’t think so; they were never the ones who played the same golf course twice.