It’s 10:30 in the morning. We’re on the sixth hole of the golf course, and I’m on my fourth beer. It’s a thick 95 degrees. My cargo shorts are wet and sticking to my inner thighs. My father turns to me.
“So, have you turned to Jesus?”
“Have you found some kind of religion? That seems to be what all the women in your family are doing.”
I’m an atheist. I’m a non-golf-playing atheist who doesn’t function well in humidity. I haven’t seen my father in seven years, and he’s asking me if I’ve found Jesus.
“Yeah … uh … no, Dad. I haven’t found Jesus. Why?”
“Well, it just seems like a cop-out.”
He shoots his ball. I agree with him. My boyfriend Dave tries to change the subject.
“So, what is it you do again, Pat?”
He’s a yacht salesman. My father sells yachts. My father is 6 foot 1, and his head and face are covered in silver hair. He smells of Old Spice. He has always smelled of Old Spice. He wears glasses with thin wire frames, and his cheeks are flushed red from the heat. His laugh is genuine and kind. I was abandoned by Santa Clause.
It’s my turn to golf. The beer I just bought is warm. I place it in the cup holder of the golf cart and walk over to the tee.
“Make sure you line up your thumbs,” says Dave. He’s a golf pro. This meeting is his fault. He set it up, supposedly for my benefit, but I’m beginning to think he just wanted to beat my father at golf.
I line up my thumbs and look at the hole. It is hundreds of yards away. I look at my beer sitting in the cart. It is eight feet away. Golf is a stupid game.
I draw back the club. It’s my boyfriend’s father’s club. He loaned them to me this morning. He told me the story about how they were his first set of clubs given to him by his mother when he was sixteen, and how now his son, Dave, is training for the PGA tour. He told me they were special, special clubs that “make things happen.” I swing my arms forward and miss the ball.
I watch the special, special club fly out of my sweaty hands. The weight of the head forces it to loop-dee-loop as Dave’s father’s precious memory slowly lands into a weedy water hazard. Dave coughs and looks at the ground. I pick up the ball and throw it as far as I can.
I kill my beer as we drive to the balls. My father is up ahead in his own cart. Dave looks at me.
“Are you O.K.?”
“Where’s the beer cart?”
We pull up to the putting green. I’m buried deep in a sand trap.
“I went back to school, Dad.”
“Yeah, for what?”
“Yeah? Good luck.”
“I’m getting straight A’s. I really feel like I really want to be there this time.”
“Yeah. I also just got the lead in the main stage play. Someone finally thought I could play a love interest. Ha …”
I finally hit the ball on the green, then kick it at the hole, tearing a huge chunk of grass up with my toe.
“ERIN!” Dave yells.
“Oh no! I killed the grass.”
I finish my eighth beer, just as we finish the eighteenth hole. I have a sweat stain in the middle of my tits.
I order three shots of Jameson and three High Lifes at the Golf Course Bar, then collapse into the booth. I’m armed.
“Dad, why don’t you care?”
“Why haven’t I seen you in seven years?”
The last time I saw my father I was fifteen years old. I stayed with him and his wife, Janet, for two weeks over Christmas on their house boat. Janet is overly tan, and intricately and obscenely freckled, with false red hair. Her chin is constantly pushed up, while her brow is furrowed down. The first thing she said to me that Christmas was that my mother had taught me the improper way to shave my legs, and that I didn’t look like a girl. The third day I was there, she began hitting her hands against the walls and screaming, “AAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!! Get out of my house! Get out of my house! RESPECT! Get out of my house!”
She thought I had spilled over the dog’s bowl of water and not cleaned it up. I yelled at her that I hadn’t. That maybe her precious dog, Suki, had spilled it. My throat went raw screaming at her that I knew nothing about the stupid dog water. She spent the rest of the two weeks in a hotel. I never talked to her again.
I may have spilled the dog water.
“Seven years? You saw me five years ago at your graduation, or were you high?”
I was high.
“Oh. I guess I just forgot.”
I probably forgot because we never spoke. He just waved briefly as Janet ushered him out of the bleachers. He didn’t come to the after-party.
“Yeah, you always forget.”
The conversation escalates into an argument. I’m constantly leaning over to my left and to my right, un-sticking my thighs from the leather while pulling back and forth at the front of my shirt, searching for extra oxygen. Dave sits there quietly. I start crying.
“When I say ‘I love you,’ the few times we’ve talked on the phone, you never even say it back.”
“Well, your mother used to tell me that constantly. She just wanted to hear it back, so I stopped saying it.”
“I’M NOT MY MOTHER! QUIT THINKING I’M MY MOTHER! I’M YOUR DAUGHTER!”
I look more like my father. My father spent ten years in L.A. trying to be an actor. My handwriting is almost indecipherable from my father’s.
I try to order more shots, but the bartender tells me he thinks I’ve had enough. I do not argue.
“I’m sorry,” he says.
“I’m sorry. I’m sorry you don’t think I love you. Look, why don’t you and Dave come over for dinner tonight, see our new house. I love you.”
My father loves me.
“Yeah, let’s try this father-daughter thing.”
“Yeah. I mean, that … that would be awesome.”
“Awesome? You’re still a kid. Just let me call Janet, let her know you guys are coming.”
Dave is holding me in the golf course bar booth as I cry. No: weep. I am weeping. My father has invited me to dinner. I confronted him. I’ve just lived through the most terrifying day of my life, and it ended with a dinner invitation. My father loves me. I knew it. I fucking knew it!
My father walks back in the bar, closing his cell phone, and he slides back into the booth.
“Um, well, Janet says she doesn’t want anybody in the house until it’s all put together. She was pretty adamant about it. So maybe we’ll do it next time.” I haven’t seen my father since. I’m thirty-four.
Erin Lane is a playwright, improviser, comedian, and solo artist. She has served as head writer on the following theatrical projects: Why the Long Facebook? with Dark Humour Productions, Jersey Shore: The Musical, Americans in Peril, ObamaNation, America: For Dummies, iAlone, and Time to Start Worrying with 4 Days Late Productions, Big Top JoJo and His Towering Show of Wonders with Jonny Stax Presents, and All that Jaws: A Jaws Musical. She produces the comedy showcases The GoGo Show, CLiC CLiC BOOM! and Proxy Morons. She can be seen performing stand-up and performing with her improv team, LACE, in and around the Chicago area. She is a member of Loose Chicks, a monthly Live Lit cabaret and has been featured in the Baltimore Improv Festival, Chicago Improv Festival, Chicago Home Theatre Festival, Chicago Women’s Funny Festival, Indiana Fringe Festival, Chicago Sketchfest and the New Seeds Festival in Florida. Erin Lane received a B.A. in Theater Arts from Columbia College Chicago, and has graduated from the Second City Conservatory, iO and Annoyance Productions. She is currently an M.F.A. Playwriting Candidate at Hollins University, is the Stand Up Director for Chicago Ladies in Comedy and is a member of the Dramatists Guild.