Going back in time six hours is a bitch. I don’t mean like H.G. Wells, “going back in time”, but like changing time zones. Your body doesn’t like it, your head doesn’t like it, and it makes everything seem wavy and strange when you try to focus your eyes.
Today I woke up at 5:30 AM Eastern Standard Time, which would be 11:30 AM in Valladolid, Spain. To make the best of this unceremonious jolting of the brain-time continuum, I decided to get into my Subaru Forester and head to the gym. Unfortunately, the gym is not all that close to my house, and if you’re familiar with standard, American suburban-wasteland “planning”, you’ll know that when something is three miles from your house, you don’t always have a direct route. You have to make some choices.
I don’t know about where you live, but where I live, we already have traffic at 5:45 AM. And I made some shitty choices. I went to the longest lights; I got stuck behind people driving their $100,000 Lexuses at the speed of low-battery golf carts; and at one point, I was trailing a school bus that seemed to be picking up every wayward child in the vicinity. Leave no room for doubt: this all made me very angry. But it was a warm, terra cotta feeling of soothing anger; a nostalgia for traffic jams past.
Anyways, after about three hours in traffic – give or take two hours and forty five minutes – I got to Spring Hill Rec Center, currently high in the running for the Most Generic Suburban Place Name of All Time award, highlighting an adroit use of the classic combination: Soothing Adjective + Unoffensive Geographic Feature. As the candle would have sung in “Beauty and the Beast”: a tale as old as time.
As I turned my sturdy, liberal bumper sticker-bedecked Forester into Spring Hill’s parking lot, the newly awakening sun’s rays illuminated a wooden sign on the side of the access road. When I read this placard’s warning, I realized that where I had arrived, in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., was just as strange of a locale – just as much part of my world-hopping adventure – as any cathedral’d villa in Spain or any ancient mosque’d hamlet in Morocco. This sign, perhaps ignored by many of the locals as if it were something as commonplace as a speedbump or as routine as a traffic light, blew my mind. It baffled and astounded me; I couldn’t believe what it said:
We’re all accustomed to seeing signs telling us not to park somewhere, not to idle for too long in one area, or even demanding that we not give money to pandhandlers.
But telling us not to play golf?
Have legions of flat-capped, caddied renegades straggled so far off the course that they have started impeding traffic? I want you to understand that this sign was nowhere near any type of golf course. There was nary a green nor sand trap for at least five miles in any direction, so what does this mean? Have people starting teeing off wherever the fuck they want? And moreover, has this become a problem warranting an official county sign?
This was not in a field where one might practice his or her drive. This was not near any kind of surface or area conducive to the playing of golf. It was next to a narrow access road leading towards a rec center. Granted, the game of golf is indeed a pastime that can be construed as “recreation”, but would this suggestion be enough to set off an orgy of chipping and wedging so as to require a warning to halt these activities?
The suburbs are a strange place. Despite the often banal and superficial façade, there are things going on behind these manicured lawns and on these power-washed driveways. It is a place of intrigue, wile, and deception. Just as much as Montmarte, Madrid, or Marrakech.
I have thought about this all day and, honestly, the only conclusion I can draw from the “No Golfing” affair is this:
We are all insane.