HOLLYWOOD – The latest in a series in which guest columnist and Austrian film director Werner Herzog writes about arbitrary moments in his life.
My brother-in-law is an animal obsessed with the immediate fulfillment of his appetites. To watch him eat Chinese takeaway is to witness the the decay of the biomass of the universe in super accelerated time lapse photography on an IMAX. And in 3D. So when Norman said to me, ‘Werner, we must play golf some day’ I was naturally aghast and fled my sister’s home, accidentally punching my niece in the throat in my haste to reach the door. Although I felt my exit an unambivalent response to his request for some reason – if I had to guess I would call it stupidity – the next day Norman turned up at my house with a set of clubs he had borrowed and a grin that was entirely his own.
The golf course was a series of hemoglobin shaped gardens with a small cellular nucleus of tightly trimmed lawn and a flag in the middle guarding the hole. The bunkers were gritty cancers, in this anatomical analogy which Norman and his friends Hunter and Troy did not seem to appreciate. They were – like all Americans – superficially friendly. ‘Oh films,’ said Troy. ‘Did you have anything to do with Here Comes the Boom? Because that was classic!’
Norman managed to grab my wrist as I swung the club at Troy’s skull.
‘Woah there Werner,’ he said. ‘We need to tee your ball up first.’
Despite my doubts and once I had mastered the art of hitting the ball I surprisingly began to enjoy myself. I hit my first shot into the rough. ‘You’re not too far off the green,’ Hunter told me, encouragingly. But with my second shot I drove the ball further into the rough where some trees had survived the vicious gardening. ‘No, Werner, you’re supposed to aim for the flag.’
‘Because that’s where the hole is. You have to get the ball into the hole in the least strokes possible.’
My next stroke took me ‘out of bounds’. I was beside myself with exhilaration. I had only just begun this increasingly fascinating game and I was already a maverick, breaking all boundaries and experiencing the wilderness beyond the petty confines of this frailly civilized world. I listened to my fellow golfers’ remonstrances and pretended to heed their advice and pointers. On the next hole, I hit the ball directly out of bounds on my first shot. And on the third hole there was a ‘water trap and though a beginner I hit it first time. On the fourth hole, I turned around and hit the little white fellow back to the second. On the fourth I clonked a man riding a ridiculous golf buggy.
I tore off my shirt and wielding my ‘putter’ dived into a sand bunker as the others attempted unsuccessfully to restrain me. I stay here until nightfall, barking like a rabid dog and any one who seeks to approach.
I can say in all honesty ‘I am a golfer’.