One of the odd
things about the literature of love, as I have observed it, at any rate, is
that more of its pages are devoted to chronicling the inception of affairs of
the heart than to their endings.
example, describes in exhaustive detail the moment when Antony began to have
That Certain Feeling for the minx of the Nile. He is not nearly so verbose
about their tragic finale. Throw a stone at any newsstand and you will hit at
least two fan magazine accounts of the early stirrings of the Big Romance
between Clark Gable and his fishing rod. But I have yet to encounter a report
on the moment when the great lover switched to grouse shooting.
This may be due
in part to the fact that certain passions are widely believed to have no
terminal points. After all, love, according to the inscription Abraham Lincoln
placed inside the wedding ring he gave to Mary Todd, is eternal. Another
explanation may be that writers find it easier to describe the ascent of a
rocket than the descent of a spent cartridge. Whatever the explanation, there
would seem to be in the literature of love, if not precisely a gap, then at
least a small hollow.
I am in a
position to fill it.
Even though I
can recall absolutely nothing about the moment when I fell in love with golf, I
remember every astonishing detail of the moment when the great game and I
reached that parting of the ways which Mr. Winchell has marked on the map of
our language with the word "phfft!"
I was at the
time, like the celebrated lad from Shropshire, one-and-twenty. That's where the
resemblance between us ended. While he was knocking out bucolic verse for Mr.
Alfred Edward Housman on the banks of the Severn, I was hunting a job in
downtown Manhattan. I found one in the office of a public accountant named
James Carl Peterson.
who was my senior by a mere five years, was a pleasant and attractive young
squirt who, a year after squeaking through Harvard at the bottom of his class,
reached his position of eminence on the ladder of success in an eminently
traditional way: he married the boss's daughter. I never did meet the daughter,
and if it had not been for my extraordinary love affair with golf, I probably
never would have met the boss. The real boss, that is.
His name was
Arthur M. Hawley, and he had been practicing accountancy and playing golf for
almost half a century when his daughter fell in love with young Peterson. Soon
after the honeymoon it occurred to Mr. Hawley, who had already put quite a dent
into his eighth decade, that the time had come for him to hand on the torch. He
took his son-in-law into the business, changed the firm name to Hawley &
Peterson and took himself off to his favorite golf club.
his father-in-law, was an ardent golfer and I found before very long that much
of my business day consisted of listening to my boss's account of difficult
holes he had played in the past and how he intended to play them in the future.
Since I have always been a good listener and when paid for doing so I can rise
to surprising heights in this difficult art, it was almost inevitable, I
suppose, that sooner or later young Peterson would begin to mistake my blank
but rapt look for an approximation of the passion that possessed him.