A Golf Parable—
(Short Version) Deep in the jungles of Africa, an explorer heard a strange sound, THWAK! Cautiously, he approached. There was a gorilla in a clearing putting rocks on little mounds of dirt and hitting them with a stick four hundred yards straight as a die into the jungle beyond. Seeing his fortune made, the explorer captured the gorilla and transported him to America. He dressed the gorilla in plaid slacks and a red polo shirt and substituted a driver for the stick.
Out on the course he teed up the golf ball and the gorilla hit the ball, THWAK!, four hundred yards straight as a die toward the distant green. The ball rolled up two feet short of the pin. Visions of stardom danced in the explorer’s head. On the green, he handed the gorilla a putter. The gorilla addressed the ball and, THWAK!, four hundred yards straight as a die…
A good friend of mine sent me a Youtube segment of a little boy of not more than four-years-of-age sinking incredible shots in a childs’ basketball hoop to the joyous, dancing, high-fiving hijinks of his father. Immediately I thought of this joke, THWAK!
Further thoughts followed. Through my wife’s friend, we got to know a major sports star. Every time he appeared in uniform and ready for action, thousands of fans would leap to their feet and scream his name. It had been like this since he was a child sports prodigy. He was destined for stardom and, sure enough, within a few years, when he was a young man, it happened. The years passed and the screaming crowd still surged to its feet when he entered…though with somewhat less gusto.
The years passed and, as happens with all of us, retirement from the profession arrived. The fans no longer screamed his name. In fact, there were no longer fans. He was left without the adulation he received since he was a child…and he was left without his “fix” of autograph-seeking admirers. He became a stunted, withdrawn man. When we would visit the couple, he would walk through the room without so much as a “Hi” only to disappear in the next room, door closed.
My thoughts turned to the little Youtube boy and his future as a basketball star. Screams of approval and high fives would be there for as long as he produced. Afterward would come reality and the realization that the fans had moved on to the next star. I hope the little Youtube star develops into a more complete human before that day arrives.
History is filled with horror stories about stage mothers and sports fathers. This little Youtube prodigy may have such a father, one who pushes his child relentlessly to make up for the lack of success the father may have experienced. I could be wrong, in fact, I hope I’m wrong, but the risk remains that a child can be emotionally scarred by the ambitions of an overzealous father or mother.
Another personal story. The Hollywood Studio Club was famous in its time for being the domicile of budding film starlets like Marilyn Monroe. A buddy of mine was dating a young woman who was living at the Studio Club and asked me if I would like a date with one of the starlets who lived there. Aware of the Studio Club legend, I thought, “Oh, Boy, would I like that!”
So on the appointed evening, dressed in my best, I picked her up. Off we went to the restaurant for drinks and dinner. To say it was the most boring evening I’ve ever spent would be to massively understate it. The entire evening was devoted to a recitation of the young lady’s life and roles. It was all her for the entire evening. Was I ever happy to see that date end.
The moral to that story is that budding starlets and sports stars are too often one-dimensional humans who believe the world is designed to dance attendance on them, that the dance will go on forever. It was true of my starlet date and it was true for our friend’s sports star husband. The sports star’s wife, now happily remarried remains our friend. I have no idea what became of the starlet.
Part 2 Coming Soon to a Blog Near You—
While attending UCLA, I worked part-time as a page at NBC in the early days of television when radio was in its decline. Fibber McGee and Molly gave way to Queen for a Day. I pushed show tickets at the corner of Sunset and Vine in Hollywood and ate lunch in the basement kitchen of the Moulin Rouge theater while Queen for a Day took place upstairs, often the only meal I had all day. Those were the days! But wait! That’s a story for another day. Stay tuned for So, Ya Wanna be a Star—Part 2 coming soon to a blog near you. It deals with the stars I met and the experiences I had. Until then…