Friday, September 28, 2018

I had a really bad time at Laurel Valley this week

Take a moment to let that headline sink in. I believe it is without precedent. No one’s ever had a bad time at Laurel Valley, the posh Ligonier country club and home to one of America’s top 100 golf courses.

Let me be more specific. When I say I had a bad time at Laurel, the bad time lasted fewer than 7 minutes.

The rest of the time — nearly 20 hours — was absolutely splendid. I was wined, dined, flattered for my book and made a host of new friends.

It’s time I hope I never forget coupled with time I sorely wish I could.

See, UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation secured my participation by purchasing 200 signed copies of my Palmer book to give as gifts to golfers who were paying thousands of dollars to enjoy the Laurel luxury. The opportunity included being featured speaker at both lunch and dinner.

I was really excited about my role. I took Josie with me Monday on the pretext of needing help delivering the books. She’d be turning 18 on Tuesday and I was hoping she’d get a peek at the place.

“Now, this might be a bust,” I warned. “We might not get past the front door.”

We were there four hours and she left with a Laurel Valley job application and pleas she’d return it ringing in her ears.

The kid has charisma. We’re so proud of her.

I later swapped her for her mother and we were treated to a fabulous Laurel dinner.

I was back early morning. Sprawled over two tables were all my books. Best part? I didn’t have to endure the crass indignity of trying to sell them. All I had to do was hand them to arriving golfers and engage in cheerful chat. And I got that down.

I had no reason to be nervous for my lunch talk, but nervous I was. Understand, they wanted me to talk for just 3- to 5-minutes. I can talk for 3- to 5-minutes  coherently in my sleep.

Everyone told me it was just fine.

But just fine isn’t good enough for me. Truly, I’m used to euphoric reactions. I vowed to myself and others my dinner address would be perfect.

And a flawed man gets into himself into trouble any time he strives for flawlessness.

I may have been intimidated by the affluence of the audience. But that makes no sense. I’ve never been intimidated by the busboys and there’ve been many years when I’ve been out-earned by busboys.

I’m loath to say so, but the recent Parkinson’s diagnosis has me more rattled than I’m eager to admit. A mind that was for so many years as carefree as clouds is now agitated by foul forecasts. Was that it?

Did I drink too much? Not enough? Was I overdue for a humbling?

Either way, the dinner talk was my worst ever. I stammered. I shook. I froze. I'd  have said, "Honest, this is the first time this has ever happened to me," but I was fearful it would sound like I was auditioning for an erectile dysfunction ad.

When I came to a sloppy conclusion, I said some quick goodbyes then made a cowardly retreat out the nearest door.

First thing the next morning, I composed an apologetic email to my two contact  organizers. “Today,” I wrote, “my feelings will ricochet between despondency and mortification, hopefully by tomorrow settling into mere embarrassment.”

I hinted how I couldn’t feel worse. 

That’s why I was floored when the one wrote back, eh, no biggie.

“Please don’t worry yourself for one second on our account,” one replied. “We were honored to have you.”

The second was even more effusive: “You were delightful and charming, and I assure you that you're the only person who feels like your performance was subpar.”

It’s like they’d seen a different me.

Were they just being kind? Could be, but I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s all about your vantage point.

I selfishly see myself from deep inside my own head, a POV that magnifies each triumph and defeat into monumental proportions. 

They responded to my apology from inside a building full of dangerously sick children and fervently praying parents.

My momentary embarrassment in an otherwise plush experience? Indeed, no biggie.

And sometimes when we seek something akin to forgiveness, we’re lucky when we stumble into perspective. 


Melissa Boerio said...

Your conclusion is spot-on. POV/perspective is so important, and we ALL need to quit living inside our own head!

PS. Yes, Josie is charming!

Chris Rodell said...

Just saw this. Thank you, Melissa! So glad to have you in my corner.