Lower Volume

“Can’t you see there’ll come a day when it won’t matter?”
                                               --Boston, Peace of Mind (1977)  

I suppose I should be flattered. 

In today’s mail, within an embossed silver envelope, an “exclusive invitation” to join the Manhattan Country Club.

It arrived about five years too late.

A polite decline awaits.

There are a host of practical reasons: I don’t play enough golf to make it worth my while, I don’t play any tennis, my days of cannonballing into the deep end are behind me, I don’t drink and I haven’t been a Republican since the turn of the millennium.

(A proud member of the fastest growing American voting bloc demographic – unaffiliated.)

The last time I played golf on anything resembling a regular basis was the fall of ‘98, when I’d taken a leave of absence as the message guy on the Governor’s staff to perform the same function on the re-election campaign. After winning the August Primary, the General Election victory was assured, so those of us on the campaign staff honed our short game.

A sweet gig for a couple of months. Play some golf, return a few calls, knock off early. Repeat. Win re-election with 73 percent of the vote.


Then there’s the country club perception. Here’s mine, right or wrong: Rich white guys who drive big cars, support Richard Nixon, George H. W. Bush and rock the natty sweater vests on the fairways.

There was a time when that was all in the world I ever wanted.

There was a time when I’d have been all over an invitation to join the country club like white on rice. (Sudden thought: What if I prefer brown rice?) Call me a recovering Young Upwardly Mobile Professional. The first step is admitting you’re powerless over the double bogey.

As I stand at the precipice of middle age, the volume of my Earthly aspirations has been turned way down. These days it’s much less about me and more about just tryna do the next right thing.

Which brings us to another practical argument. Why join the country club if I’m not gonna lead with it? 

“Hi there. Mike Matson’s the name. Card-carrying member of the Manhattan Country Club. Damn glad to meet you. Doncha wish you had a natty sweater vest like mine?”

As American society evolves, as we collectively become less homogenized, will the underlying appeal of the country club diminish? To answer yes assumes a societal attitude shift away from elitism and status seeking.

It’d be nice, but we’ll still be flawed human beings. Less homogenized, prolly the same amount of flawed.

My personal Baloney on White Bread with Miracle Whip existence (my caps) will never morph into Thinly-Sliced Prime Rib on Sourdough with Grey Poupon.

What once consumed and defined me just doesn’t matter that much anymore.

Now that I’ve reached the point in my life where they want me in the country club, I no longer want them.