Somebody’s about to get punched in the head

Guille2Over the course of the past four or five years or so, we’ve had regular stints as exchange student host-parents. It’s different from being a regular parent. There’s not as much yelling.

I’m finding, however, that my sense of motherly righteous indignation can get just as revved up on behalf of someone else’s kid as it can for my own.

At issue is the relationship between our exchange student, Guillermo, and his golf coach.

Guillermo is pretty good at golf. By pretty good, I don’t mean he’s better than I am at golf (which is kind of like saying he’s better than this peanut butter sandwich at golf, or better than this muddy puddle of water at golf, or … yeah, you get it), or even that he’s better than you might be at golf.

He’s a scratch golfer.

I looked that up. It means he’s better than pretty much everybody at golf.

Except his younger brothers, apparently, whom he humbly concedes could probably wipe the floor with him.

So Guillermo’s new golf coach was one of the first people he got to know at the outset of the school year. A full five months before golf season he was schlepping clubs to the driving range. If they weren’t working on his swing they were organizing fundraisers, or, I don’t know, having golf workshops or something.

In addition, Guillermo’s taking a full load of courses, and some online stuff. Hard stuff like economics and Algebra II. He’ll actually graduate from here.

Usually exchange students take classes like ‘lifetime sports,’ and guitar. Their grades won’t count when they go home, and they’ll have to do the whole year over anyway.

This is why we have an entire drawer full of ceramic crafts from Guillermo’s predecessors.

Anyway, Guillermo is taking a full course-load, in a non-native language. He leaves home at 6:15 am and doesn’t return until dinner. He spends most afternoons with Coach and the team.

When you’re at his level, I guess folks in charge of the local high school program take things rather seriously.

Guille3This concept of taking any sport seriously is not one we’re familiar with. We might get serious enough about something sports-related to pause the game on TV when we run to the kitchen for snacks. Well, actually maybe just Mike. The rest of us would have disengaged from the TV well before needing a snack.

I’ve talked about how we have one kid more interested in socializing on the bench than playing the game, and the other likens the tent village at a swim meet to a Red Cross refugee camp after a tsunami. Clearly we are not residents of the uber-competitive sports planet.

Anyway, it’s finally golf season. Guille’s team had its first match (or tournament, or game thingy) last week.

That same day, he also found out he was missing some critical medical release he thought he’d already supplied his coach. At the last minute he had to recruit a teammate to take him to our house to collect insurance information, then to a walk-in clinic to get a physical.

It was a little bit of a scramble. I think he may have missed lunch. He made it to the course with little time to warm up.

He tied for second place in the tournament, which is sucky for him. The whole team kind of sucked, though. It was the first time in something like a decade they’d lost to this other team. Kind of a bummer, but it happens.

He was disappointed, and clearly he was not the only one. His coach showed up at our doorstep with the seven-ton backpack of homework Guille still had facing him that night.

Coach is one of those people one might call a character if they’re being gracious. I suspect there are those who have another name or two for him. Coach has personality, I’ll give him that. He also doesn’t appear to know how to pronounce Guille’s name correctly  (ghee-shay). Instead he calls him G-man or Gitmo or kid.

“Are you kidding me?” He said to Guille, standing on our doorstep and handing the bag over.

Guille shrugged.

“He’s kind of beating himself up here,” I said.

“That’s not as bad as what he’s going to get from me,” Coach said.

Don’t be a douche, it’s just a game. I thought of saying but bit my tongue. I didn’t want the guy’s head to explode on my porch.

That would be messy.

So, post golf match debacle, Guille’s team has been reorganizing and I don’t get it, but it’s a little Lord of the Flies. Guille, once first on the team, now plays the role of Piggy. He has had to face challenges this week from those ranked second, third and forth to re-establish position. He’s been told that, best case scenario, he’d be third on the team come this next match. Worse case scenario, he’d be filling a spot on junior varsity.

I suspect Coach is trying to apply some sort of pressure Guille will have to get used to anyway. After all, this kid is someone who could end up being the only reason I’ll ever watch the golf channel.

Right now, I’m inspired to give either give Coach a piece of my mind, pull a Jeff Gillooly on someone, or both.

Of course, Guille’s post match performance on the course has been closer to his normal standards and he’s come home every day a little less freaked out by what happened Monday. If I were a little more into sports, I’d know enough of the lingo to provide the proper encouragement.

“The gloves are off, we gotta get the ball rolling, go to the mat,” I could say.

“When the chips are down, you gotta get back on that horse.”

No? Crap. Well, whatever.

He’s just going to make do with a pat on the shoulder from me. I hope that’s good enough. I’m not relishing the thought of taking anybody out with a metal pipe.


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