Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Hobby deathmatch: geocaching v. golf

A sure sign of delusions of grandeur is quoting oneself. Another is referring to oneself in the third person. Back when sir_zman interviewed firstbass for the Twin Cities Geocaching Podcast, and Silent Bob recorded the whole thing on video, firstbass said, in paraphrase:

My life is a graveyard of hobbies. Geocaching is the first thing that has held my attention this long. I'm waiting for the day when I will wake up and say I never want to do this again.

That day has come and gone, another hobby rose briefly from the dead, and I have lived to cache another day. Here is my story.

Back around the turn of the century, I played golf avidly. Before my wife and I had kids, I held about a 14 handicap -- simply having a handicap indicates a certain seriousness -- which means that I pretty reliably scored in the mid- to high-80s for 18 holes. Better than bogey golf. I was not a natural player, though. My childhood training in golf consisted of Beating The Living S*** out of the ball, and so I could maintain that adequate level of proficiency only through constant practice and vigilance against those childhood tendencies. If I came home with an 85, I was happy. If I came home with a 90, I was miserable. Non-stop torment for a perfectionist.

Once the twins came along, I accepted the fact that I would have to set golf aside. It was not difficult to give up, because it's expensive and because it's so time-consuming. But here's the thing that keeps me coming back to golf, aside from the fact that it's an activity that my dad and I can do together: a well-struck golf shot, translating effortless and free-flowing motion into a curling parabola, is pure pleasure. It doesn't happen often enough, but when it does, it's easy to get hooked.

A work colleague invited me along for a round of golf, and I enjoy spending time with him, so I agreed, and a visit to the driving range felt promising. I was already doing the depressing calculation in my head...

I must play golf, so I must play golf well, so I must spend lots of time on it, so I must give up geocaching, because I also have a family and don't have time for two consuming hobbies.

Add to that the fact that some things about the "local politics of geocaching" were bothering me (Oh, goodness, imagine if I blogged on the "local politics of geocaching"! Would my readership increase?), and that all added up to waking up a week ago Thursday with no desire to think about geocaching. And the next day, and the next day, and the next day. Uh oh. Is it over?

No. What got me back into geocaching?

1. My golf game has got a long way to go, that's putting it politely, and it's just too expensive and time-consuming to pursue. Plus, I think I hurt my hand.

2. Last week I worked with sir_zman on a geocaching presentation for a math camp at the University of St. Thomas, and it was fun getting some teenage girls interested in geocaching.

3. Over the weekend, knowschad, shoestorm, LucidOndine and I headed down through Red Wing to Lake City and hit some nice caches. I got home way late, and once C was done being upset with me, she said, "Do you realize how different your moods are when you come home from geocaching and when you come home from golf?"

4. The family and I visited Boomsite and then, the next weekend, Afton State Park, and C seems keen on the idea of visiting some other state parks with the kids. Sounds good to me! Metro challenge!

I am fully aware that it is hard to have any sympathy for a person who is saying, basically, "Boo hoo, it's so hard for me to decide how to spend my ample leisure time." But, come on, this is a blog. A blog about a hobby. A certain amount of navel-gazing must be tolerated. But golf? Now that's something, I bet, that no geocaching reader of this blog would tolerate!


Julia said...

I just have to say as Sir_man's wife Lucid has gotten him in trouble caching. They once took a trip to cache out Chippewa Valley WI and failed to come home on time, 3.5 hours late, making me have to take our kids to a meeting. I want to commiserate with C if you go caching with Lucid you will be gone a long, long time.

firstbass said...

Thanks, Julia, I'll be sure C sees your comment. ;) No, really.

I think we're all in agreement that Lucid is a very bad influence.

Recently overheard at the bass house:
C: Who the h*** is that on our Wii?
B: sir_zman. He's another cacher.
C: And what the h*** is that?
B: I think it's E.T.
C: Did Lucid put that on there?
B: I think so.
C: Well, sir_zman can watch me bowl, but I don't want E.T. watching me bowl, and Lucid better stay away from my d*** Wii.
W&H: Mister zman is a bad bowler! Watch this! etc...