Monday, June 28, 2010

the whippersnapper complex

Every year the McDonalds put on a golf outing in Tim's Dad's honor. The proceeds benefit the John D. McDonald foundation which funds kids in Havertown. In the 5 years I've been a part of the family I haven't golfed. I'd babysit kids and wait for a bunch of drunk, sun burnt Canadians to come back in need of a swim at my mother in law's house. Jack McDonald was born and raised in Canada...1 of 14. Initially I enjoyed holding down the fort, but since the kids I was sitting became my own, I've been bitter about being left while everyone has a good time. I've only golfed once in my life in Idaho. My then boyfriend and I were escorted off of the course for bad behavior. This year I chose to golf in a 4-some of chicks, the girlfriends of Tim's 3 partners: 2 are his brothers and 1 his best friend from high school.

Emlyn, the latter's girlfriend came to my studio a month ago-the day I found a massive roach in one of my bowls. I showed it to her, and she said, "Can I take it home for my kids?" She emptied the contents of an Altoid container into her pocket and nestled the roach in there. She then forgot about it until she was at a picnic and a baby bird fell out of a tree. Someone yelled, "does anyone have an insect to feed the bird?" Can you imagine the stir when Emlyn produced a sewer bug as big as my thumb from her purse and cut it into baby bird bite-sized pieces?

That was off-topic, but I had to put it in there. The outing was a blast. Golfing is fine. Chatting with 3 great women and whizzing around the great outdoors in a cart full of beer, not a child in sight, is even better.
One of our posse, Chelsea, had some tutoring from "the new guy" in Tim's office. Ryan golfed in college, and, unlike me, college was recent for him, so he's still really good. Chelsea is a gorgeous cross between Sigourney Weaver and the brooding vampire girl in the Twilight series. She's also a brainy academic type, and she just had deviated septum surgery. She's been floating around for a week on codeine periodically resorting to wearing an elastic supported trough-like bandage under her nose and around her head. (The day she emerged from her post-surgery stupor, Steel, of course, demanded she remove the trough) Watching her lurch up to the tee and repeatedly deliver a resonant, sailing drive straight down the fairway was mesmerizing for all of us, including her.

Ryan's group from the office chose not to go for the beef and beer after golf. It was revealed that Ryan was disappointed by his performance. The McDonald brothers had made a big deal out of Ryan's being a great golfer, but I'm sure everyone was too drunk to notice or care how he'd performed.

A childhood friend and I called that feeling, the whippersnapper complex. She had blown off her senior year and ended up at
UMASS for a year. My godmother asked after her, saying to me, "Whatever happened to that Eliza Minot? She was always such a whippersnapper!" I relayed the question to Eliza, and she rolled her eyes as she guiltily exhaled her cigarette. (She's a successful author and a mother of 4, so it's all gone just fine, Aunt Maryanne)

In the office, I made a patronizing clucking sound as I was saying, "Oh that makes me sad! Ryan shouldn't feel bad!" After that conversation, I threw some pots and shipped an order musing to myself that I'd forgotten how it feels to have high expectations for oneself. I was in denial. I don't feel too bad about playing a bad game of pool, but I'd be lying if I said I'd outgrown the whippersnapper complex.

I recently made 24 cups for a cafe in my neighborhood. I had to get them done in a short time. I can make a cup in 5 minutes, so I wasn't too worried, but they came out craptastic. Haven't I been making pottery too long to have stuff look that bad? I shamefully delivered them for opening day and then brooded all weekend until I came upon the crazy, novel idea of re-making them. I couldn't bear continuing to define myself as a maker of gorgeous cups knowing 5 blocks away there's proof to the contrary.

It's the self-definition part that brings on the angst. I also define myself as someone who has babies easily, happily, and with little physical repercussions. A baby ago, however, I had a horrible miscarriage. Tim and I had cockily been telling everyone early in the pregnancy, and I lost the baby. Nothing has undermined my confidence, faith and optimism more profoundly than that loss. In my mind EVERYTHING from that day forward was going to fail. The mental floodgates were open to disease, bankruptcy, death and all of the horrible things that happened to other people.

Meanwhile Ryan, being 21, probably forwent the beef and beer for a shower and a date. After 4 hours in 90 degree weather drinking with a bunch of Canadians, who's going to want to stick around for another 4 hours? The Canadians are known for long toasts, drunken singing of partial songs and weepy kind of party.

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