Golf is next on the tube, unless it is preempted by golf at Ranch View with Dad. In the meantime the moderator and analysts on “Meet the Press” look like pros. Their confident voices give the impression that today’s wars, famines, bankruptcies and stock swings are explicable. Television’s experts aren’t the only ones working on a Sunday. In silence I formulate questions for my impending interview with Dad.
Question: Dad, do the moderator and analysts play golf after they shoot “Meet the Press”?
Hypothetical Answer: They don’t sit around watching “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom” like someone I know. They go to country clubs. The ones based in Washington head to Congressional or Army Navy. The ones in Manhattan are members of Shinnecock Hills or National Golf Links of America on Long Island or of Winged Foot in Mamaroneck. There are expensive clubs in Connecticut too.
Will I have the courage to ask Dad a tough follow-up question: “Why don’t we belong to a country club?” After 60 min. of local, national and international crises, “Meet the Press” is over. Both sides of the debates finish the show as winners. Next, the golf pros display their command of the game. The players attract the attention of the camera and expect a paycheck at the end of the day. Their office of groomed lawns sends the message that time and money have been invested in the tournament’s success. Hushed tones from the broadcast booth also dignify the proceedings. I continue to practice my own delivery.
Question: Dad, why is our neighbor Mr. Jones good for nothing?
Hypothetical Answer: You overheard me say that about him? Well, we can’t be friends with everybody. We can be civil, or try to be. I did not insult Jones to his face. I expressed an opinion to your mother.
Question: People say Dr. Smith plays too much golf. Is that true?
Hypothetical Answer: It is a myth that all doctors spend their days off on the golf course. You watch too much television.
More follow-up questions occur to me, but my note-taking is interrupted by a barely perceptible shift in the atmosphere of the room. I look around. The tube is still on and Dad is still in his chair. I clear my throat, take a deep breath, and go right to the Million Dollar Question – spoken aloud this time and with my best imitation of calm to mask any resemblance to an anxious newshound pressing against the newsmaker of the hour.
Question: Dad, what will I be when I grow up?
There is no answer. Today’s interview is cancelled. There won’t be a round of golf today at Ranch View or anywhere else. Dad is sleeping the sleep of the just.
After I drift off too, Dad wakes up and changes the channel to “The Lawrence Welk Show,” which blends into and informs my dreams as inchoate questions:
Away, I’m bound away, ’cross the wide Missouri?
What the world needs now is love, sweet love?
Keep a little sunshine in your heart?
I can’t believe I’m losing you?
Du du liegst mir im Herzen?
Goodnight, sleep tight, and pleasant dreams to you? Here’s a wish, and a prayer, that every dream comes true? And now, ’til we meet again, adios, au revoir, Auf Wiedersehn?