Yesterday my friend Charles invited me to play frisbee golf with him.
That's not actually accurate. He invited me to join him and his (very good-looking) friends to play laser tag, which everyone knows is totally different from frisbee golf. He said, "Meet us in City Park, we are all going to play laser tag." And I thought, "That's a fun and quirky way to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. I will go and do that."
I don't love laser tag. I know I should: it's ironic and hip to love laser tag. I love a lot of ironic and hip things: Dungeons and Dragons, I love. Comic books, I love. Comedy records from the forties, I love. I do not love laser tag. It requires a lot of running, and I am one of those kinda-heavyset people who generally says, "Oh I have great endurance, but not so much speed." Which basically means I run like one of those dogs that has had two of its legs amputated and now has to lug around wheel legs everywhere. The point is, laser tag requires you to be swift, quiet, agile, and speedy. I am lots of things, but none of those.
I also don't hate laser tag. The thing about laser tag is that, if the course is big enough, an acceptable tactic is to hide. If you find a good hiding place, you can actually have a pretty good time watching everyone else dart around. Last time I played laser tag in City Park I found a hiding place that was so good that I saw an adorable, toothy, baby possum. That felt like a victory.
I was willing to play laser tag, because I missed my friend Charles, and I wanted to hang out with his good-looking friends. When I got to City Park, Charles said, "We're going to play frisbee golf." I shouldn't have been as shocked as I was: he had sent me a text that said, "Meet us at the frisbee golf course." I need to learn how to make inferences.
For me, frisbee and skiing are exactly the same, in that they are both sports I unfairly blame break-ups on. Skiing: We were in college; I was the worst skier imaginable; I told my boyfriend I was the worst skier imaginable; he said, "I'll teach you!"; he obviously could not teach me, and I fell over and over again in every context until I cried and demanded pie; we broke up the next day. Frisbee: We were in Portland; I was the worst frisbee-thrower imaginable; I told my boyfriend I was the worst frisbee-thrower imaginable; he said, "I'll teach you!"; he obviously could not teach me, and I threw many frisbees into trees and into PEOPLE until I cried and demanded pie; we broke up three days later. Let's ignore context here, because I always do. CLEARLY these boys stopped loving me because I was bad at sports they enjoyed. Men are pigs, and all sports that have two vowels in a row when they're in their present-tense verb form are evil sports designed to ruin relationships. The end.
Yesterday, when Charles said we were going to play frisbee golf I very nearly turned on my heels and left. Everyone said, "Don't worry, Sophie! We are ALL bad at frisbee golf! None of us can throw a frisbee! Ha! Ha!" Then everyone proceeded to throw a frisbee really, really well. Great, Olympic distances, I tell you. They said, "It's really not that hard! Here! Look at how to hold the disc!" I looked at how to hold the disc. "Now look at how you flick your wrist!" I looked at how you flick your wrist. "Just make sure your finger is aiming forward and then act like you're slapping someone and THROW!" My frisbee wobbled like a moody owlet out of the nest too soon, then plummeted to the ground three feet away.
After a few more throws like this, and it had become clear that I was not just throwing badly to be adorable (or, if I was, it was failing), everyone else pretty much ignored me. At one point, someone said, "Just throw it like you throw a normal frisbee." "This is how I throw a normal frisbee," I said. That was really the end for me.
Or, it was the end for me until I finished my second beer, around the tenth hole. That was when I realized that no one was mad at me for being bad at frisbee golf. They were mad at me for being mad at myself for being bad at frisbee golf.
In high school, a boy I had a crush on (ripped jeans, black hair, lots of Rage Against the Machine shirts) told me he preferred to always be pessimistic, because if you are pessimistic, at the end of the day you are either pleasantly surprised, or right. He was so cute (he even drove a Volvo 240, for God's sake), I agreed with him point-blank. It took me until yesterday, when I was on the frisbee golf field, to realize he was wrong.
Being right, it turns out, is not that great. It feels good for a little while, but it doesn't have the lasting effect that being happy has. And still, people go to great lengths to feel like they are right. They fight logic way past its breaking point just to appear unflawed. While we enjoy humility and open-mindedness in people around us, we are less able to embrace our own willingness to be wrong. I am wrong most of the time. I should not pretend like that is not true. There is no gold star at the end of your life that says, "Congratulations! You were basically right about everything." (If there is such a gold star, someone should really form a religion around it, because you can't be right about everything without also having predicted the gold star.) I was walking around the frisbee golf course with a little moody smirk that said, "See? I TOLD you I was bad. I TOLD you I was bad." And I was. But no one cared.
By the end of the game, it's possible my shot had actually worsened. But I had started soliciting help, and I felt really invested in understanding how to flick my wrist with "power and precision." Everyone had warmed up to me, and they all had their own advice to give. It was probably very wonderful advice. The best score I got was a 12 on a par 3. But I celebrated it, and jumped up and down when I avoided a pedestrian (!!!), and someone even said, "Hey Sophie! You're great at putting!" It was not a horrible experience. No one broke up with me.
After the game, everyone else who had played went to some guy's white van (seriously) and bought frisbees of their own out of the back. I didn't do that. I am not invested in ever playing frisbee golf again, and also, I have seen after-school specials about strangers and vans and I'm not taking any chances.