Sunday, February 14, 2010


When my brother visits, he often pulls a football out of the trunk of his car and plays catch with my son. He used to ask me, but I would usually say no. I only play catch with a Frisbee.

Now that Kyle is big enough, he can actually catch the football with his hands. At first it usually just bounced off his head. With his newfound skills, he has fewer headaches, and he can lob it just about as far as his uncle. Kyle has not yet passed me in height or waist measurement, but I believe he he has in arm strength.

Last year, as a high school freshman, Kyle was on the swim team, another skill I was unable to help him with. He has become a better swimmer than I, and has continued to build his shoulder and arm muscles as mine continue to atrophy. I might be able to run marathons but my upper body has the scrabbly little appendages of a T-Rex.

This year Kyle has joined the golf team at school, and I am happy to report that I have been able to help him with his golfing goals. No, I haven’t taken him out on the links to share my copious skills. Mostly I just identified the person who could properly answer his questions.

A golfing champion I am not.

I sent Kyle around the corner to my friend’s house, a friend with a ridiculously low handicap like 5 or 6. For those of you who don’t know much about golf, that’s like being able to balance a lawn chair on your nose while using chopsticks to eat lunch with one foot and kicking the dog with the other. In other words, it takes skill.

Kyle had a list of questions his coach wanted answered, and my friend helped admirably. Do not take practice shots. Remove your tee. Step back to allow the next golfer a chance to hit. Shout “fore!” in advance of the head injury to reduce the likelihood of a lawsuit. Do not carry more than one six-pack of beer for your personal consumption during the round.

There was the matter of proper grip, body posture, and positive mental attitude, this last one to prevent any bending of clubs after an errant shot. Kyle returned home, eager to hit the course for the first time. He had the enthusiasm of a real golfer, from a real golfer.

Kind of like how he enjoys throwing a football, because he practiced with my enthusiastic brother. Such excitement can rub off on a kid, and undo any harm caused by an amateurish and lazy father.

Of course, now Kyle has to take whatever he has gained in skill and knowledge and put it to work on the golf course. This is where I failed as a golfer. It short-circuited my business management career, and ended my hopes of having an active social life. I was a terrible golfer, and my clubs were eventually given away. (The clubs breathed a sigh of relief.)

And he is showing promise on the golf course. Of the boys with little to no experience, Kyle seems to be a rising star. There is even a chance that he will make the varsity squad when the real games against other schools start in a couple of weeks. He tops a ball every once in a while, and isn’t immune from a dangerous slice now and again, but his swing is forming and he is getting under the ball more consistently.

I don’t know if I’ll be able to caddy for him, and I’m not sure if high school golf is much of a spectator sport. If I have to live vicariously through his stories once he returns home, I can live with that. If he wins any sort of trophy or award at the end of the season, it will be easy enough to get a small bit of tape to cover over “Kyle” and write “Matt.” I’m sure he won’t mind sharing.

When Kyle runs cross country each fall I get into it and we even run together sometimes. Then he confuses me by trying a sport I have either ignored or failed in. If Kyle gets excited about the current winter Olympics and decides to form a high school curling team, I think I will have to rein in his enthusiasm with a little bowling. I can handle bowling; it is not a cold sport. I can even break one hundred in the first or second game.

After that my dinosaur arms weaken appreciably.

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