‘It’s your fault. You distracted me!’ I raged, throwing my club to the ground.
It was my honeymoon. My newlywed husband stood across from me gripping the handle of his club, his expression falling somewhere between fear and bemusement.
We were in the Drakensberg mountains, South Africa. We’d had an amazing day trekking though the forest and lazing by waterfalls. Now we were enjoying a light-hearted game of Crazy Golf before a romantic dinner under the stars. Yet I was about to tarnish our memories with an almighty outburst.
The fact was he’d won. The man, who only days before had professed to love me more than life itself, had defeated me. Not in a gentlemanly mild-mannered fashion either. I’d been thrashed. At a game I was certain I owned.
I’d grown up with the sport. It was in my blood. Every school holiday, rain or shine, from a caravan park, I would hone my skill. My parent’s photo albums were rammed with snaps of me, victorious on the course. Well I’d assumed I’d been victorious. Perhaps that was the error in my thinking.
In my mind, I was a champion. I knew the exact angle to putt through the windmill to make the curve ahead. With a simple glance, I could assess the precise velocity required to scale any ramp. I could even fill out a score sheet while eating a double coned Mr Whippy. So how dare he, of alien nationality, someone who misguidedly termed it ‘mini-golf’, a man who had never so much as stepped onto an AstroTurfed green, suddenly become the expert?
‘It’s all about geometry,’ he’d said, retrieving his ball from the hole.
I’d eyed my club and then his head, envisaging a Drakensberg Post headline, involving the words groom and pummelled.
It was only after a couple of post-tantrum cocktails that I began to question whether it was my self-awareness rather than my husband’s chivalry, which was lacking. I’d spent years as a matchmaker trying to help people see themselves as they were, rather than as they would like to be, yet it seemed I hadn’t quite mastered the practice myself.
There had been plenty of clients who’d sat in front of me, lacking the evidence to verify their claims.
‘I have a great sense of humour.’
‘I’m really sporty.’
‘I’m very cultured. Love the theatre.’ Ahem, I’m not sure Chitty Chitty Bang Bang counts.
By the third cocktail, when I finally conceded that I might not be as proficient at my childhood sport as I had first thought, I began to wonder what other mistruths I had been clinging to.
Aged eleven, I’d been awarded distinction for Grade three flute, and since then had readily identified with anyone musically gifted. I once drew a picture of my uncle’s dog. My mum had it framed. I think it was at that point that I decided I was creative. A one-time A-grade student of chemistry, at pub quizzes or during a game Trivial Pursuit, when the science category was selected, I’d find myself perched on the edge of my seat, expecting the answers to fly from my mouth like a Doogie Howser script.
The next day, on the cusp of an unforeseen identity crisis, I decided to write a list of qualities. Qualities that I was confident I possessed. Then, upon his suggestion, I read them out to my husband, using his reaction as a gauge of the statement’s accuracy.
‘I’m highly organised.’
Twitch of the nose and nod of the head.
(Encouraged by seemingly positive response to the above:) ‘I’m altruistic’
Doubled-over belly laugh, followed by apparent breathing cessation.
After abandoning my experiment in order to assess the need for any urgent medical intervention, I began to wonder if, in some way, we were all deluded. Legends in our own minds. Waiting for our perceived talents to be discovered, or at least acknowledged.
No one wants to think of themselves as mediocre and, naturally, some of us will be lucky enough to fall at the preferred end of the bell curve. Yet, a fact often overlooked by our inner (and undiscovered) genius is that the majority of us are destined to be nothing more than average.
Did I mention my aptitude for statistics?
Read more matchmaking antics in Haley Hill’s bestselling novel ‘It’s Got to Be Perfect: the memoirs of a modern-day matchmaker’