Once upon a time, a pair of middle-aged brothers, both writers, were sitting by the Ionian sea drinking turpentine flavored wine and discussing mule urine and Their Art. The older brother asked the younger if he was working on anything. The younger brother replied that he was putting together a book of anecdotes and stories that he felt were worth writing down but that he had never been able to find a ‘place’ for. (The book in question is here. If you like his work, it’s pretty good, though not exactly his typical subject.) His brother thought that was a good idea because one should
“Never waste good material.”
I was thinking about that just the other day. I mean, it’s good advice; perhaps it could be applied to me? Perhaps it could, but there are two obvious problems: First of all, it’s entirely likely that I wouldn’t recognize good material if it bit me on the ass. Secondly, even if I did have (and could recognize) good material, I’m far from convinced that I could turn it into a good story.
That’s where WordPress (and please stop inflicting those goddamned studlycaps on me) comes in. The other day (that would be Monday) Ms. Rose and I were eating lunch at the Insomniac Capriform Cafe (the best damned grilled cheese sandwich in town) when my phone made its funny “You’ve got mail” noise (Google calls it ‘Ceres‘ for no apparent reason — I don’t like it all that much, but I don’t dislike it enough to change it). I immediately wondered if it was someone telling me to stop stuffing my face (because that’s happened before) but it wasn’t. It was WordPress telling me that I’m lazy and good for nothing. (Well, from a certain point of view, maybe.) In particular, it was Erica delivering a ‘Weekly Writing Challenge’; this one was called ‘The Sound of Silence.’ I tend to ignore most of these challenges. Well, maybe not ‘ignore’ exactly; it’s more like “I can’t think of anything to say on this particular subject so… oo! look! I’ve never seen a cat do that before.” I mean, I mostly write rambling descriptions of things that have made me smile (or frown or scratch my head or grind my teeth or…). The odds of one of those matching a challenge, well… let’s just say it’s never happened.
Until now. Sort of. (From a certain point of view — I’m going to have that bloody song stuck in my head for at least two days, aren’t I? And those hats…)
In this case the ‘Weekly Writing Challenge’ (and why is it called a weekly challenge when the URL contains the substring ‘daily’?) overlapped with a piece of my probably-not-that-good material so all I had to do was write it up. Which is what I’m doing. With garnish. I like garnish. Garnish rarely bites you in the ass.
Last October I wrote a story that more or less followed my usual pattern — a crust of random babbling with a filling of irrelevant tangents seasoned with a soupçon of character assassination and just a pinch of toilet humour. One thing was a little different from my ‘norm’, though — the presence of a semi-identifiable character that crossed all anecdotes:
I don’t think that story is my best work (whatever that might mean) but on some level it’s special to me, probably because I never saw my dad after I wrote it — he died less than a week later. And because of that I’ve been thinking of him a lot. And when WordPress (NOOOOOOOOO!) suggested ‘The Sound of Silence’, well… there was a lot of silence in my relationship with my dad. We could sit in the same room and not speak for an entire evening. I once drove two hours to eat a doughnut with him and not say anything. And we used to play golf together.
Dad was a golfer — a pretty good one. Not a great one (he’d be the first to admit that), but pretty good. I was/am kinda mediocre but at some level it was something that we had in common. He would ‘mostly’ golf with friends and coworkers on weekends (at the traditional insane tee-off time) but when I was a teenager we would play together about once a week on a weeknight. He’d call from work to confirm that I wasn’t working that evening, book a tee-off time and when he got home we’d grab a quick bite to eat, throw my clubs (his old ones) in the car and off we’d go. ‘His’ course was about 45 minutes away (probably a little less in those days) and predictably, we wouldn’t say much on the drive there.
We typically didn’t say a lot more on the course. Of course, once per hole the person without the scorecard would have to say something — typically just a number — to the person with the scorecard. (Dad’s number was almost invariably smaller than mine. Even when I got… creative.) Other than that there wasn’t a lot of conversation. (My somewhat dubious skills helped with that — I usually played in the rough if not a different fairway entirely.)
Because of the time (we were usually the last — or almost the last — group on the course) we only had time for nine holes. The ninth hole ran almost due west so we were often walking into the setting sun as we played the final hole. If we had been a little slow (Translation: if I had spent too much time in the woods looking for lost balls) the sun had often set and we were playing in twilight. Golfing after the sun goes down is beautiful but… challenging.
I miss my dad. I miss those games. I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed golf as much as I enjoyed playing those silent, dark rounds of golf with my father.
Just stay out of the woods after dark. You’ll never find your ball. Trust me when I tell you this.