What could be a more romantic date than mini-golf? Let me set the stage: Me pretending I’ve never held a putter before, and him in typical romantic comedy form, standing behind me arms over mine, teaching me the swing, on a truly romantic course. This is no ordinary mini-golf course. I was expecting tacky windmills and chipped paint falling from old weathered “hazards” which swallow your ball. But this, this was a botanical paradise (and they had the award to show for it from the orchid society). Yes, this was a tiny slice of paradise, which squeezed in two 18-hole mini courses.
The trees and flowers were labeled with placards to identify the Plumeria flower he picked and slid behind my ear. Each hole was like an actual course only smaller. No funhouse tricks, just tiny sand traps, the potential to drive your ball into a pond (or a waterfall which was beautiful… pictures were taken), and the hills that were impossible to see until your ball was suddenly sent in another direction.
I decided I was going to play mini-golf like I play pool… CHEAT! My date and I would take a walk ahead and survey the hole, uncover the potential traps, feel the rise and fall of the green under our feet. We were averaging 2 or 3 swings per hole, which was much better than the 5 or 6 I was scoring before I declared we were going to cheat.
The trees are already decorated for the holidays, and while normally this would bug me because it’s not even Thanksgiving yet, it made the atmosphere even more magical. And to top it off… the sound system that was hidden and coming from everywhere, was playing classic rock. SCORE! Elton John, Billy Joel, The Beatles… It was great!
Until the 10th hole. During the 10th hole I was about to sink my ball with my second stroke when out of the hidden speakers came the guitar chords that always cause that sinking feeling in my stomach. Even before Eric Clapton gets a few chords in, I change the station, but here I was, trapped at the tenth hole, on my 8th YES 8TH stroke, still unable to sink the ball because my mind was elsewhere.
Wonderful Tonight always takes me back to my dorm room junior year. I will still never know how First Love got into my room, put that cassette tape in my boom box (yes, this was a looooooong time ago), and left the note that read “Press play, this is how I feel.” It was the most romantic thing anyone had ever done for me. And it was at that moment, that a “music anchor” was created in my physiology. And at this particular moment, that music anchor was screwing up my score.. and worse.. my date!
The song ended, I sunk my ball, but the magic of the night was ruined. It’s not like this date was “the one” but when you’re being reminded of what he’s being compared to, it’s like, why bother with the second course? Of course I did, to be polite, but my mind was already made up. “No,” I didn’t want ice cream (not that I could eat it anyway), “No,” I didn’t want to go get a non-alcoholic beverage somewhere else, and “No,” I did not want to go out again. The later being the most confusing “no” to him, as far as he knew the night was going great. But he couldn’t see the invisible line he was being measured up against and was falling oh so short of. Not that he should feel badly, he’s in the company of many good men who’ve fallen before him.
One day, someone WILL measure up. Until that day…