When I wander off the 15th fairway and onto the patio of Janet’s bungalow, and into their living room, it’s not to do all that stuff that everyone assumes is going on. Yes, Bob, Janet’s husband, is frequently away,and I wouldn’t blame you for thinking the same thing. It makes us laugh, Janet and me, because you can see their patio from the course and into every room, and when I walk in, every curtain is wide open. It’s Janet’s attempt at transparency, to show the world, or at least the membership, “Look. No carrying on here. No fucking of any kind. See for yourself.”

Angela, my wife, knew I dropped in on Janet and didn’t seem to mind because I came home stuffed. On those days, I wouldn’t make a mess in the kitchen cooking up something that maybe she’d scarf down in the time it takes to make her diluted instant coffee which she lightened with that corn derived instant creamer.

“I just like the way the coffee tastes,” she’d say. We met going to college at Perdue, and that was how coffee was made when we were kids. Angela was from Iowa and me from Ohio. It was all the things we had in common that made it so easy to move in together after college and marry ten years ago. Both of us grew up eating the Mac and Cheese, fried chicken and mashed potato, meat loaf and iceberg lettuce salads with Thousand Island dressing.

Angela never ventured beyond this small circle of safe foods. She gagged the first time we went to sushi with our friends in Minneapolis. She learned to declare herself full to clients when they went to eat at some trendy place, and would eat the peanut butter and jelly sandwich she kept in her purse on the drive home. I had long ago given up trying new dishes on Angela who found even black pepper overwhelmingly spicy.

Angela works in publishing and edited this missive before she left me and Eddie, our standard poodle, despite all the transparency. I found it open on my laptop with all the markups in yellow getting rid of extraneous comments and run-on sentences, which I mostly undid because what does she know about how I feel.

Throughout the three seasons of golf that I had been finishing my round on the 15th hole, I answered any questions Angela had, which were few, and if I lost any details, she could see the pictures on Instagram or make comments on Facebook. She liked every picture I posted. She gave a thumbs up to every description of the various dishes we tried regardless of whether she would have tried it, which she wouldn’t have.

Janet and Bob and Angela and I first met after we joined the club five years ago. Most of the members were older and we naturally gravitated to one another. Bob is a scratch golfer and we played together just once. He is one of those guys that doesn’t say a word on the course, playing a mistake free round that was as uninspired -just straight 200 yard drives, greens in regulation with machine like regularity, and two putts. The only moment of drama came on 18, when he landed in a trap, laid his blast out to 8 feet, and drained the tricky downhill putt with the same unsettling focus. He barely smiled at the congratulations from his gathered audience of duffers. Over beers, he sat drinking a lemon water, and chewed on a few saltines before dismissing himself. I had fish and chips, and the other two fellows were elbow deep in the half pound bacon cheese burgers.

Angela enjoyed Janet’s company, but found it sad that she couldn’t publish her short stories. Angela even sent the best one, a beautifully written, sad story about a dying, crippled girl, to the fiction editor of her company’s premier literature magazine, but got no feedback. Janet spent her time writing and cooking, and as her writing was going nowhere, she poured her imagination into the kitchen. In the stove, she found, a kinder receptacle than the word processor. Janet would have us over when Bob was away, which was most of the time. He did some kind of financial work, and had to be in New York most of the week.

The first time I walked off 15, Janet was waving to me and pointing at a plate of pastries, only they weren’t dessert. They were golden filo dough wrapped around tender beef ensconced in a potage of savory vegetables. I wasn’t hungry, but I walked over. Seeing the feast, I sat down at their patio table and dug in. I snapped a picture, posted it on Instagram, tapping -“this should feel like cheating, it’s so delicious.”

Circe seduced Ulysses, not with her beauty or magic, but with food and made him late getting home. The following week, as I approached my drive which I had sliced into the grass near Janet and Bob’s yard, I saw Janet look up from her kitchen window and wave me in. She asked me about Angela, and mentioned something about having us over that weekend, but that Bob would be in New York again. I invited her over to our house as we were already having some people for cocktails and the Ohio State game. Lots of chicken nuggets, wings, pigs in blankets, light beer, and of course pizza. She asked if I had eaten, and without waiting for a response, brought over a tray of croque monsieur’s cut into decrusted triangles with a bowl of homemade onion soup -the dark rich broth redolent of caramelized onions that she had grown herself. Picture snapped. Food perfect. Lots of likes.

It became a routine, one that Angela and I joked about. If it bothered her, it was apparent only once when I brought home a bit of pot au feu. She wrinkled her nose and made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with her Wonder bread, eating it with a glass of milk standing up in the kitchen as I finished off the stew with a New Zealand Shiraz blend. I never did that again.

The only time there was some tension at Janet’s was last week, when we were laughing over a wonderful Malaysian inspired spring noodle dish with pan seared duck. She got a call from Bob who said he would be stuck in New York over the weekend. He was on speaker and he said hi. After he hung up, Janet sat down without losing a beat and jumped back into our conversation about some local political issue. Then, without warning, she reached over and grabbed my hand and pressed it to her chest. I smiled, mumbled thank you, and retreated back to the fifteenth hole, resuming my round.

Bob cancelled his meetings later that week, and I ran into them at the clubhouse walking in for dinner. Janet was clinging to Bob’s arm. The house is so quiet now without Angela’s FM station blaring from her office. Eddie clearly misses her, and I’m getting hungry.

copyright 2015 W Michael Park

The half life of human desire…about two years

Married Chairs

Married Chairs

Golf partners are most enjoyable when they are golfists. To make your marriage work, you have to be a marriage-ist.

This is advice I give to young, single women who are giddy about a blossoming romance. The half-life of human desire is about 2 years. This is if two people remain unchanged and exactly the way they are. It applies to just about anything that you get passionate about. When you start something new, a giant hourglass flips over. The sand is finite, and it is half empty in about two years, and a half again, furthermore in another two.

To keep a relationship going you have to evolve, break it off for a while (not cheap if you are already married), or have kids to completely distract yourself. Adding of more sand is not possible, but flipping different hourglasses that you discover between yourself and your mate is always a good rule. These are discovered often by means of meaningful conversations.

A second rule of thumb is that you can have about a hundred meaningful conversations with anyone before you have to quit. Most long-lasting couples understand this and keep conversation to a minimum or go on vacations -usually to the same place -how different is bermuda from palm beach from bali -trust me I’ve been to all of these places and if I were a primitive person, I would think that I enter a metal box with no airholes, sit cramped and bored for about 8 hours, and end up in the same crazy taxis, going to the same sandy, watery, blue skied place, eating the same food, and buying the same trinkets.

Don’t reduce your choices to someone’s basic body parts. In all the freedoms we think we have (free will being the top) we are shackled by the basic laws of neurotransmitter biochemistry. Romantic love is a neurobiological one-way spawning state – we’re all tricked into thinking it occurs naturally by our limbic system, but true love is a marathon of the higher brain centers.

You’re probably just as well off being given a mate on your appointed wedding day, someone you get to know in the Biblical sense on the wedding night in half darkness broken by the ululations of your women kinfolk holding up the bloody bedsheets to the village. And after your inaugural flying of the flag of Japan, you embark on a life of getting to know eachother, and if you’re lucky, falling in love, which only 5 percent of us really get. Be careful before you waste one of your 100 meaningful conversations over this post.

The Inscrutable


They're Wrestling

New York Times Science articles rarely compete with Maureen Dowd editorials about Martians and Venusians, but when Science articles talk about what women want (link) the email links pop. The basic premise is this: you have panels of men and women, gay and straight, and subject them to images of man on woman, man on man, woman on woman, man masturbating, woman masturbating, nude man walking, nude woman exercising, and bonobos (above) fornicating. Yup, you got that last one. The men and women were surveyed for subjective response, and instrumented in the privates for objective response.

This is where it gets interesting. Men, gay or straight, responded in mirror image stereotypical manner to the presence of erotic male or female images, and had no response to the bonobos. Their physiologic response mirrored their survey responses. The women, across the board, rated the images lower than the men across the board, but, VERY INTERESTING, had a physiologic response to every image.

This astonished me for a while, but then I realized, that if this wasn’t the case, the species would have no chance of surviving. Women have to put up with men of all shapes and sizes, and may even settle with a five foot two billionaire with bad breath and worse taste. Men are, despite their reputation, fairly visual and choosy. Women -you never know for sure.