Edit me. then put it up today and save my reputation, k?
One might deny having a reference to him. I do not, only because I worked with him and liked him; over the years, dozens of "him"s. Men of his nature were my friends: Boys of summer. Not the kind on the baseball diamond. On the green grass of country clubs at home.
There is a rule, usually unwritten regarding working at clubs: If your family, any part of it belongs, you cannot work for the club. For this reason, I worked down the way at two clubs in Bedford to which my parents did not belong and at Sleepy Hollow. Always in tennis. I knew the game and the equipment well enough, and I fit the stereotype. Yes, there is one and from where I sit now, it has not changed.
Neither have the boys or the knowing undercurrent of the staff. There are two kinds of summer club employees: Girls and boys. They are both, as the song goes, sultans of summer.
For the most part, these are good girls. Because they need to fit in with club decorum, they know the club ropes: Be pretty, athletic, never wear too much make up or put too much thought into your hair. Be polite, sunny, and energetic. Never stare, especially at a male. If a member drinks too much, go get one of the boys and knock off before there is a problem with harassment: At clubs, one never lets things degrade. Both the girls and boys know what to do and above all, they must do it in order that the enviorment always remain comfortable for the member who is an equity stake and therefore, really cannot be removed unless he has committed homicide right there in the dining room. The staff has always has one another's backs first. And usually, in more ways that one, okay? That is just the way it is. Call it the Rule of the Cart Path.
When it comes to female members, things are more fuzzy, crazy, and desperate than in dealing with the men. I am the age many of the curious doped-up and Seabreeze-addled yummy Mommies were then, and I am looking down the barrel at the cougars. As I hear women of my age talking, some of the haze, sadly, is beginning to lift. Though I want my haze back, like a woobie. And I do not want to know what I know now: Women need attention. Some will get it anyway they can, take a very easy but seedy road, others take a lovely, summery, blonde-blue eyed muscular path. But they all end up in the same wasteland.
The thing about boys in clubs is, that is all they are: Boys. They play games the way they do. They do not mean for anyone to get hurt or truly even, anyone to get involved. They think of sex the way they do doing donuts on the ninth at two in the morning: It's a summer game. At the end of the night, everyone packs it in and laughs with a hangover headache in the caddy shop in the morning. Sunday night episodes are the worst. Clubs are closed on Mondays for caddies day off. If you were the Sunday night girl, look out.
Anywhere between the ages of sixteen and twenty-five sunny faced pretty nympos make up the ranks of the club staff during the summer: Teaching, waiting, bagging, booking, parking, guarding, smiling. You can believe they have a social circle all their own and that there is not one lurid or fictional detail that once passed a set of whispering lips in those 300 acres of perfect green this summer that all do not know about one another.
But the worst secrets, the ones we kept most carefully guarded, the ones we tip-toed around with knowing or worried glances were the boys hook-ups with the members which seemed to happen with a great deal more regularity than the girls who did not dig old guys, period. This phenomenon came back to me recently when I ran across a waiter at our own club who had attempted to be overly friendly with me last summer. I crooked my neck looking for my Husband who had removed to the locker room for a minute and the issue dissolved. The next time I saw him, he was deploying the same jive with another young, pretty, married member at brunch on a Sunday. He knows, as do all staffers, when her Husband is on the golf course.
He knows more than that about her too. He knows who she is married to and who her children are. He knows what kind of money she is: Legacies are a far lesser status in the trophy case than self-made's, though it can sometimes depend on the last name. Better if she is a respected club athlete and kept herself up. She is a prime target if she drinks heavily in the clubhouse while Jack/ Cutler/ Win/ Peter is on course. She is a ringer if her husband treats the staff poorly.
Are they worried about losing their jobs and being black-listed from local clubs? They are nineteen year old boys, the only thing they worry about is where their next beer and erection is coming from.
One of my pals around the club was a guy five years my senior who was the head of the tennis teaching staff. Each morning he came in with a new compliment. "You look great in a tennis skirt. Curves and buldges in all the right places." He was, as they all are, devastatingly handsome and charming. Southern. On staff each year from University of Richmond, first undergrad, then law school. As much as his attention might have been disarming, I knew that ground, I knew he was a child of the long hot summer night and that he expired on August 30th each year. He was not at Bedford to fall in love, he was there to make a windfall to get himself through school and fall in love there with a girl he would surely find three months before graduation in order to really concentrate on his studies, no doubt.
We had the same conversation every Sunday afternoon: "Come by the house for a party?" He would ask, referring to the guest house attached to the gold shop where several male staffers lived for the summer.
"Got plans." I would say.
"You've had plans for five weeks!" He would complain.
"Huh." I would say while counting chits
"Summer will be over before you know it." He would say, giving my skirt a ruffle and heading for the door.
"Don't say that." I would say. I love those scorching days still.
"One of these nights. You. Me. Bottle of wine. The ninth."
"Nope." I would say. Closing the logs.
"I love you madly!" He would say, racket over his heart, as he playfully backed out of the shop.
On Tuesday mornings, I checked in with the golf assistant pro, another adorable cad, to see how his day off was and laugh about the weekend rounds. Without fail there would be another story about he and Scott and their conquests. But sometimes it turned to stories about members and that is where I tried to wiggle out of the room. One way or another we would all find out. We had to, in many ways, in order to protect our comrades.
In the end, when they talk about female members in the golf and tennis shops on Tuesday morning, they are referred to with the same crumpled-up thrown-away verbage as they would use to discuss any girl, from any where who put herself in a compromising position. Because they are nineteen year old clubby summer guys and they have no more reference to sexual sensitivity and tact as they do the china patterns I go on about.
It was no different for my best friend who worked as a ski instructor for an upscale resort: When one of the world's top golfers wife showed up too many times in a season to take lessons from one of her colleagues, everyone on staff knew what was going on. When the papers announced the divorce, the resort, and that instructor, shrugged.
When it happens, the entire clubhouse will know. And soon your spouse will too because clubs are notoriously chatty. It would be foolish to think for a moment anything of this nature would be a secret. Equally as foolish to be a male member with an undervalued, hot, boozy wife: Be sure the boys pick up your bag and head for the course, not your wife.
The Blushing Hostess