Tuesday, October 23, 2018

The Grape retrospective

Traditionally on clerkmanifesto we celebrate my friend's, Grape's, birthday on this day, October 23rd. I best like to celebrate it with a story from our past. But I've been doing this for a long time, so a lot of the key stories have been covered. Let us review:

1. Grape saves my life.

2. Grape almost kills me.

3. We dissect a rattlesnake.

4. We swim with a hundred sharks.

5. We hide in a tent in the John Muir Wilderness while it never stops raining and eat peanut butter, drink whiskey, and read just enough of Rimbaud's Season in Hell so that we can say we did.

6. We eat far too much Peyote, see a spectral apparition (some of us do), and then sit around alone in the suburbs, all our spirituality thwarted.

I still blame the spectral apparition for that.

Fortunately there are a few stories left to work with, but since I have been writing about golf so much these days I have decided I will tell you about the Summer of Mini-Golf.

It might not be a very good story, but it was a very fun Summer. Maybe mostly because it was during a not very happy time in my life.

I was living at my parents' home, kind of paralyzed there with self hatred and despair, lost, when Grape came back for Summer Vacation from College.

"Let's go miniature golfing." He said.

So we did. Constantly. I think there was a nice course near where he was staying. We golfed. Not only are we very competitive, but we tend to think a lot of games can be improved. In our many hours out on the links (Hah!) we were no longer satisfied with 54 or 108 holes of "normal" mini golf. What about timed holes? What about playing a hole pool style? What about designated paths through the holes that gave them pars that would more suitably be set at 15 or 16. We played speed golf, kick golf, hit the other guy's golf ball golf, and closest to the hole golf. I like to think we got pretty good at it.

Of course the trick with stuff like that is that even though it seems absurd, one has to take it seriously. We quite liked to compete. We quite liked to win. We took it very seriously.

I'm just saying I have not much golfed, but out on those mini golf courses, I learned that all that fresh air can be ennobling, and diverting, and spiritual, and fun. Even if mainly we were running around hooting or lying on our bellies or something.

It might have been another year or two before I found my way out of the dead end I thought I'd be in forever, but I think Grape and all that golfing helped.

Which brings me back to item number one in the list of previous memoirs: Grape saves my life, which I think a wide assortment of these old stories tend to be about, even if just a little. Even the one where he almost killed me (and himself). 

I suppose, at its best, that's what friendship does.

So happy birthday Grape. Thanks for life.


  1. Thank you so much for the birthday blog post! In retrospect I am taken by the fact that, at least to my memory, we were never once asked to leave the mini-golf greens, even tho we would replay the same hole a number of times, and stomach down on the carpet to shoot the golf ball as one would in billiards. I think it had much to do w/ arriving mid morning and such when the place was empty.

    I would add the memory of playing the Power Game, which you introduced us to via Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (is that right?); and at some point someone had power and someone, I think you, had to go to a stranger's house and offer him your french fries. Does that ring a bell?

    I still remember the peyote ghost. I still remember we ate way too much and decided it would be a great idea to go bowling since it didn't seem to be working. I still remember hearing a cosmic "click" at the bowling alley and turning to you and asking if you heard it, and you saying yes.

    I still here that click every once in a while.

    1. I am glad this has appropriately for the day inspired a small flood of memories.

      Yes, you are surely right about never being sent off the course under the rule "As long as you don't hit your ball into the 18th hole you can play forever and ever".


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