On Friday, through the kindness and generosity of a friend, my 11-year old son and I got to experience Day 2 of the 93rd PGA Championship at the Atlanta Athletic Club. There are four major championships in a professional golf season. This was the last one for 2011. I’ve been to a major championship once before, at Augusta National for the Masters in 2004, so I was really excited for my boy to have this experience.
I came home after I acquired the tickets, changed into a golf shirt, got back in the car and headed up to check him out of school. I went into the school and chatted with the lady at the desk, a woman who appeared to be about my age and had the slightest bit of a curious look on her face. It was almost imperceptible, but it was there. I shook off the thought and let her know why I was there. I sat down on one of the couches and awaited my son’s arrival. After about 10 minutes, he showed up and we walked out the front door of the school. I said, “normally I wouldn’t check you out of school, but I thought this was a good enough reason.” And I showed him the passes. His eyes got real big. He was excited. We hopped in the car and headed to the parking area. It was a good 20 minutes from the golf course. We parked and jumped on the charter bus that would shuttle us to the event. After about 10 minutes, the bus filled up and we took off in the direction of the tournament.
We arrived, retrieved a map, and began to plot our strategy for seeing the best golfers play. We set out in search of the first professional we wanted to follow. About 10 minutes into our walk, 20 minutes after we arrived at the golf course, 1 hour after we had hopped on the shuttle, 90 minutes since I picked him up from school, and 2 full hours since I left the house, I went to unbutton one of the buttons on my shirt and it didn’t feel right. I looked down and noticed something peculiar.
My golf shirt was on inside-out.
It had been that way for at least 2 hours. It was inside-out when I talked to my wife before leaving the house. It was inside-out when I was chatting with the lady at my son’s school and noticed the subtle look of curiosity on her face. It was inside-out when we got on the shuttle at the parking area with 60 other passengers. And now it was still inside-out as I was walking along a path near thousands of other patrons, network television cameras, and some of the most well-known professional athletes in the world.
All I do is win.
Nothing like this has ever happened to me before. It led to several immediate questions in my mind…
- Do I just leave it this way and pretend I meant to wear it inside-out? Like maybe I’m making some sort of political statement, or I’m boycotting Nike (it was a Nike golf shirt) until Tiger and his estranged caddie, Steve Williams, kiss and make up. Or maybe I’m just a wild card, a rebel, a bucker of trends. No way society is going to make me wear my shirt right side out like everyone else. I will not stand for that kind of oppression in my fashion choices!
- If I do decide to forgo the fashion revolution route, where in the world am I going to change it back to the right side? I don’t know if you’ve ever been to a golf tournament of this scale, but they don’t have changing rooms stationed around the course. They don’t even have real bathrooms, just rows of porta-potties behind discreet green fencing. If I decide to change in one of those things, what if I accidentally drop my shirt into the hole? There’s no way I’m even going in there to try to get it out. It might as well have slipped into another dimension at that point. Then what would I do? I have no shirt back-up plan.
- How could I be this unobservant? When a shirt is inside-out, the buttons are not visible, there is a clear seam running along both shoulders and down the sides, and a huge white tag sticking out around my left hip area. I don’t see how I could have missed all of those warning signs for the better part of 2 hours. It makes me really grateful that I didn’t have more embarrassing moments when I was growing up. Think about it. Remember that dream, that nightmare, we all had a lot when we were school-age kids? The dream where we show up for class with little or no clothing on? Apparently, I had within me the capacity to actually experience that kind of humiliation. We’re talking about disturbingly low levels of self-observance here. If only there was a tool that I could use that would reflect my image back to me so that I could see how I look before I go outside.
- How is my son feeling about all of this? He’s laughing on the outside, but how is he really processing this? Did he notice way back when I picked him up from school and was too timid to bring it up? Did he think Dad had lost his mind and started dressing like a mental patient? And did that make him a little bit fearful to confront me if he did notice it? Did I undo years of building this image that I’m a Dad who is intelligent and always in control of things with one wardrobe malfunction?
After about another 10 minutes of walking and deliberating all of these things in my head, I spotted a wooded area to the right side of a fairway that I could walk into and flip my shirt over before I made it out the other side. So I deviated off the path, went into the woods, and made the conversion. It felt a little bit like a super hero moment. I went in the trees the mentally challenged dude who can’t dress himself and came out strong, confident, well-dressed, and in-control dad on the other side. I could almost hear theme music. Or maybe that was the buzz of the Met-Life Blimp.
When I got home that night, I naturally blamed my wife for the whole embarrassing scenario. She must have put the shirt on the hanger inside-out. And how could she let me walk out of the house like that? It was like I was Andy Dufresne making his final walk through Shawshank prison wearing Warden Norton’s shiny black dress shoes and she was Red, looking me up and down but missing this glaring incongruence in my attire. How could she not notice? I count on her to help me in matters of fashion. She’s the last quality control checkpoint before this product hits the shelves.
But it was me who put the shirt on. I’m the one who didn’t look in the mirror. I’m the one who paraded around like a clown for 2 hours. Ultimately, I had no one to blame but myself.
As I was thinking about all of this, it made me realize how this type of thing probably happens more often that we’d like to admit. We do something foolish or unwise and it leads to some type of embarrassment or negative consequences. Often, everyone else notices before we ever catch on. And when we do finally realize it, we wonder how on earth we could have been that stupid. Then we look around trying to find anyone else to blame but ourselves. We can become defiant, pretend we wanted it that way, or mope around in our own self-defeating thoughts. We can worry and try to figure out what anyone or everyone must be thinking about us. And we can try to shift the responsibility to someone else.
But the only thing that’s going to make any difference is to change it.
Make it right.
And you’re the only one who can do it.