“How’d you play, Ethel?”
This happened on the ninth green, where he often sat to pass the time.
The familiar pink porkpie hat was on her head and she wore the same bright and vacant smile.
“Oh honey, I played abdominally. Just abdominally.”
She was just so dopey. He could never forgive her for mangling the English language. He could only think of her as a hopeless klutz in a too-tight Lacoste tee shirt and the over swing of a dowdy old biddy.
It wasn’t her fault that most of the people at the golf club didn’t know who Ethel Frum was. In broad daylight, on the course, she was batty, a plump uncoordinated middle-aged fruitcake, shoveling the ball around the course and laughing after each terrible shot.His father once asked him, “Who’s that nut who can’t swing who laughs every time she hits the ball 20 yards?”
But you should have seen her on Saturday nights when, crackling with energy, she blazed her way around the small dance floor, couples making way for her right and left, the music blasting. You would have known her then, with that cold, demanding expression of hers and the curl of her lips.
His sad father saw her that night too, dancing with her uncoordinated rich klutz of a husband. She and her sister Blanche had been the Gliding Glendale Sisters. Show business. Men went mad over them. Blanche made money too, but Ethel had always stolen the show.Then they married and took up golf.
She flashed, she swayed, she dashed, she led, she followed, she twisted her head one way and her body another. (Why didn’t she have that suppleness in golf?)
She turned abruptly on a dime, and shot off into another direction, shoulders high.
His father watched her. “Is that…..?”
“Yes. Amazing. Hard to believe.”
She pivoted, she pirouetted. She held her position as if the position were a thing that could ever be held on a polished floor like that.
If you called his father on your iPhone 4S now, he would not answer.
Ethel shook her hips at her husband. He shook his gamely back at her.
She put her hands above her head.
His father’s nose glistened. He watched and watched. He was thinking, “Just this once. Just this once.”
The son had supposed for years that his father had no secrets from himself. Ethel was proof that he had a great big secret somewhere inside and it was going to wreak havoc on him.