Sunday, August 25, 2013

Stream of (Total) Consciousness -- 8/25/13: Slim Fast

After cursing my alarm clock for having the nerve to go off, the first thing I do every morning is check the weather app on my phone to see what the impending forecast looks like. This has become an almost pointless ritual, though, as virtually every day I've been here has been a carbon copy of the one before -- sunny, temperature in the 50's and 60's, with wind approaching tighten-your-hat-strap proportions. 

That's why it was so strange today to see that there was a 60 percent chance of rain -- and it was also what made my morning that much more unpleasant. For one, given the fact that I've been battling a cold the last several days, the prospect of spending five hours in wet, windy conditions was not something that sounded all that nurturing; and two, the less-than-stellar weather meant that I was going to have to find something new to wear.

Generally speaking, caddies at Bandon Dunes have two uniform options: the whites, or the blacks. The whites are the classic coveralls, as seen in the picture below. I never thought I'd be a fan of anything that was one piece (I've explicitly warned my father that he is never to wear a one-piece coverall, no matter how old he gets or how appropriate he thinks wearing shorts and black socks is), but I like the whites; they're lightweight, flexible, and feature plenty of pockets, and they provide easy access to the additional pockets of the shorts I wear underneath them (yes, I wear a t-shirt and shorts, though I'm tempted to go commando and bask in all that the prevailing north breeze has to offer). Having worn them during every round I've worked, I'm at home in the whites -- even if I do feel out of place in them at Subway after the day is finished.

The blacks, on the other hand, are not quite as desirable, at least they aren't to me. They're the "free" rain suit we were given in return for paying the $125 yearly fee that allows us to caddie at the resort. A lot of guys like the blacks and wear them all the time, even when it's sunny out, but I've never found them to be that comfortable. They're heavy and hot, and they're stiffer than an Anthony Weiner text message, and they have a limited number of pockets that aren't especially accessible (my name is Brent Stoller, and I'm a pocket snob). And you know how wearing a jacket out to a bar seems like a good idea yet always ends up going wrong, how it's great for those five minutes when you're actually outside, but once you get into the bar, it no longer serves any purpose, and you have no clue what to do with it? Same thing with the rain jacket -- it's a lifesaver when it's raining, but the moment it stops, you either have to stash it somewhere in your player's golf bag or cook in it if there's no place to store it.

It was raining as I left my house in Coos Bay, and the skies looked just as ominous when I pulled into Caddie Parking. And so, the blacks it was. It would've been foolish to risk getting needlessly drenched on the course when I had a perfectly good rain suit in the back of my car. After yanking the pants on up over my shorts (three consecutive prepositions...that can't be proper English), I was quickly reminded how restrictive they were -- and things only got worse as I loaded them up with my towel, water bottle, and peanut butter and jelly sandwich. They're made by a leading brand that shall remain nameless, but considering how unpleasant they were going to be to caddie in, I couldn't imagine trying to actually play in them.

Beyond making my entire lower body feel as if it was consumed by an unforgiving pair of tidy whities (thank you again, seventh-grade version of me, for switching to boxer shorts), though, putting on the pants made something else plainly apparent, something that I'd suspected for a while but for which I had never received full, functional confirmation:

I've lost a decent amount of weight.

I bought/was given the rain suit back in mid-June, right after I got out here, meaning I was fitted for it before I ever stepped on the grass in an official capacity. Since then, my daily routine has essentially gone from sitting at a desk for 10 consecutive hours -- and sitting in my car for close to another two -- to walking between eight and 16 miles (a fellow caddie uses an app on his phone, and he told me he averages around eight miles per round), up and over hills, raking entire bunkers because it takes players three swings (from three different spots) to get out of them, all with a golf bag strapped to my back. Not only that, I haven't been eating nearly as much as I used to. Food used to work as strategically placed distractions, like bars on a jungle gym that helped to get me through the day: breakfast at 10 a.m., lunch at 1:30 pm., a late snack around 4 p.m. Now, in an effort to stay light and alert, my standard intake throughout the day consists of little more than the aforementioned peanut butter and jelly sandwich, coupled with a pair of oranges or bananas. I do my best to make up for the lack of calories at night (mainly because I'm beyond starving), binging on an oversized, Early Bird Special dinner and generally stuffing my face right up until bedtime, but obviously, I'm still coming up short.

In some ways, I'm happy to have slimmed down a little. With a waistline that was creeping to an all-time high, I'd slowly begun spawning a spare tire around my midsection, along with an additional chin that served as nothing more than unnecessary decoration. And despite my concerted workout efforts, I was only disciplined and motivated enough to do what I could to keep both from getting bigger, meaning I probably wasn't going to rid myself of either while surviving those 50-hour workweeks. So thankfully, this experience has helped to shake things up a bit, to disrupt a seemingly unbreakable pattern.

On the other hand, it would've been nice to have maintained some of the bulk I'd worked so hard to put on over the last number of years. Honestly, I thought the physical demands of caddying might even enhance that strength, but if anything, it's done just the opposite. I can feel a slight deflation in my chest, and I can sense an ever-lessening definition in my arms and shoulders. And worst of all, my legs are probably more drumstick-esque than they've ever been before, and I didn't even think that was possible. I (obviously) see myself every day, so it's hard to tell just how much I've changed, but I'm a little worried about what people's reactions could be when I return to the real world. Hopefully, I've found some sort of happy medium between The Nutty Professor and the slightly emaciated Slippery Pete.   

For the time being, though, that's just the way it is, and there's not really anything I can or am willing to do about it. And while the rain came and went throughout today's round, there was one thing that never stopped falling -- my pants. Whatever my current waist size is, it wasn't enough, because with every step I took, with every hill I climbed, the further and further they fell. And during those miserable stretches when my hands were occupied cleaning clubs or re-organizing the bag, they just kept sinking lower and lower, until they were sagging just above my thighs. In retrospect, it was a good thing I wasn't going commando. 

And after just a few holes of this, of the constant falling and pulling back up, I couldn't help gleaning a new respect for the brothers, for the hip-hop trendsetters who wear their pants in this gravity-defying manner; they're certainly cooler and smoother than I could ever hope to be. I don't know how they do it, nor do I understand why they'd want to do it on purpose -- and I don't think I ever will.

Add it to the ever-growing list of things that white men can't do.   


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"It's not a lie, if you believe it." Those were the words of one of my generation's great sages, George Costanza, and the more of life I experience, the truer they ring. And while I still haven't found what I'm looking for, the search for my own personal "truths" is never-ending. Care to come along for the ride?