Good Narrative Principles

Teeing It Up


He asked me to tee it up. And so I tried to bring to it all the gusto, detail and clarity that I could summon. I tried to clear away any confusion, but instead the conversation got caught up in the brambles of whether or not the tables were configured correctly for the activity and the sad fact that the area we’ll be using for meals is dim, dark like a dungeon. We never did get around to finishing the conversation, achieving consensus and moving on.

In other words it was a typical meeting. Nothing really noteworthy save for the fact that it was the first time I was asked to tee something up.

I always had this image growing up of becoming a somebody. A person who struts across the fairway, planting my feet softly into the sod, addressing the ball properly and following through on my swing. Hips square, one arm taut the other bent just so, I’d be the image of focus as I tracked the ball sailing across the brilliant blue. Naturally in this fantasy the ball lands softly inches away from the cup. I would golf with my wife. She’d be a sporty athletic type with a strong jaw, white teeth and an easy smile. We’d share an unspoken but innate sense of how the world works.

Our ample dining room would overlook the green. And in the evening when the sun set I’d be in charge of mixing the martinis while she prepped the steaks and salad.

Key to achieving my plan is mastering the ability to tee up a subject correctly. To strike the right balance between urgency and confidence. It’s a turf war out there. My first mentor gave me the best advice and I’ve followed it since — be a brand. Adopt a few easy to remember characteristics. It helps to think of yourself as a cartoon character. It could be a superhero if that works. In other words, stand for something. Master an easy to remember but distinctive hobby. Not golf because everyone plays. But something easy, something you can speak about with passion during those inevitable lulls in conversation. Have a second geography, a beach house, a favorite vacation spot that you can describe vividly. So that your name and this geography are linked. And it shouldn’t be too obscure or too crowded. For instance, the Hamptons will not help improve your brand profile, but Ashville, North Carolina will. Adopt a pet project and make sure it’s implemented. Talk it up. It will help you be seen as an up and comer.


The recession has put a major dent in my plan. As has my inability to connect with the right girl. It’s possible the kind of girl I’m looking for doesn’t exist or was scooped up in her Freshman year before rush season.

I am in meetings a lot. I do a lot of meetings. There’s a protocol to conversation, a way to voice disagreement. When it comes to brand image, disagreeing with others is a tricky balance between strutting your critical intelligence and being agreeable. I’m trying to keep my native nastiness in check. My friends at college used to gang up on me during our marathon bullshit sessions claiming I had a nasty streak a mile wide.  Like the great, lazy Mississippi flooding its banks.

So I’m trying. I couldn’t be more conscientious. But lately, during meetings I start floating away. I picture myself neither on the fairway green nor in my little cabin outside of the Ozarks which I’ve heard from the highest authority is the next big thing, but alone, in an apartment somewhere with the winter light pouring in on me. It’s quiet. The muffled sound of cars passing in the snow can be heard.

I’m in my pajamas despite the fact that it’s noon.

I feel at peace.

And I don’t have to tee anything up.

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