What is it about men, and the lure of “The One That Got Away?”
All sportsmen seem to have a full repertoire of standard tales about “The Game They Didn’t Win” or “The Fish They Didn’t Catch.” Men will wiggle and squirm when reminded of their victories in a public setting. <Shrug. ‘It was nothing.’> But bring up a personal Dunkirk, and watch the enthusiasm (and the story) grow to mythical proportions.
Fishermen are the worst. I never met a fisherman who didn’t know a bigger fish. Now I admit that sitting for hours in a tin boat in the hot sun with a bunch of decaying worms for company, waiting for Moby Dick to swim by, is not my idea of a banner way to spend a summer afternoon. I mean, what are you going to DO with Moby, if you ever catch him? The poor thing has been swilling acid rain for YEARS. More likely, he’ll be thrown back into the fetid muck, knowing he has been personally rejected. What a label to hang on a fish.
There must be a special lure about a prize not won, because I’ve heard men talk this way about women.
Bill (dreaming): I knew this girl in 1986…she was perfect. Beautiful, smart, understanding, good cook, played a great round of golf – everything I dreamed of.”
Ted (drooling): So what happened?”
Bill (sniveling into his beer): Some guy MARRIED her.”
Women don’t talk like this. You never hear women boast about ‘the dress the got away in 1992’.
Betty (reminiscing): Remember that terrific sale at the Buffalo outlet mall? And you almost had that genuine copy of a fake Ralph Lauren for ten bucks, but that fat woman in purple snatched it out of your hands?
Marge (sighing): It might even have fit me.
Nobody, however, can come close to the story telling ability and sheer heart-stopping drama of seasoned golfers. By Seasoned, I don’t mean spiced. I mean the ability to stand frowning into space on the 14th tee for hours, contemplating a shot, as if it might actually make a difference. I can only conclude that years of wearing polyester pants in tootie-fruitie colours does something to a person.
For one thing, they can no longer talk in a normal tone of voice. Ever hear two of them drone on about how they almost bogeyed their golf cart on the sixteenth?
Bill (in Official Pro Golf Tournament whisper): Remember that par five in Toledo back in ’81 when I would have birdied with the eight iron on the 4th, but that seventeen mile an hour wind came out of the south-east and I sliced it just a bit to the left?
Ted (equally hushed): Sure do, Bill. (frowning into the hot sun, and eventually keeling over from boredom.)
I tell only one story about the one who got away. He was six feet tall and Irish, and he took me golfing. Every time I took a swing at the ball and missed, he convulsed into a snickering heap. Whenever I swung and made contact, he dissolved into a howling mass and writhed about on the grass.
I would have smashed him over the head with my golf club, but he got away.
Melodie Campbell writes funny books, like The Goddaughter’s Revenge, winner of the 2014 Derringer and Arthur Ellis Awards. Check them out online at Chapters and Amazon.