Chicago Midway, waiting at the gate. The man across from me wears baggy American dad jeans and a pair of trekking runners. He has a trim, greying beard, peers at his magazine through sober reading glasses. The outdoorsy type. He wears a baseball cap that says ‘Annual PTA Father’s Club Golf Outing,’ which is a lot to fit on a baseball cap. At least they didn’t spell out Parent Teacher Association in its entirety.
It’s a strangely cryptic message. I read it, first, as ‘golf club outing’, since that is the way those words usually succeed each other, in my lexical environment. But then, I realize that it wouldn’t make sense for golf clubs to be sent on their own outing, and for their owners to wear the commemorative hat.
Maybe it’s Club Golf. The Oregonian fathers could be off for a merry day of engaging in Club Golf, whatever that might be. A variant on mini golf, perhaps. Or ‘Club Golf’ could be something more specific, and somehow unintuitive, like a club sandwich. Golf with added bacon.
Come to think of it, the placement of the apostrophe indicates that there is only one father in the club. It’s this guy. The only dad in the Oregon PTA. Of course he deserves an annual Golf Outing.
But he doesn’t look like the golfing type. More of a hill-walker, I’d bet. I doubt he’d organize a trip all by himself. He must have been dragged along by the other dads, who are as enthusiastic about golf as they are careless with apostrophes. Father’s Club – those belong together. Then, there’s a golf outing, to which the component fathers of the club are being treated. But I still find it odd that the PTA has a separate sub-group for the fathers. Does the PTA also have a teachers’ organization? A mothers’ group? Seems like they’re missing the point of the A, if so.
Or maybe this is the group that fathered the PTA itself. The august body, from which sprang the Oregon PTA, fully formed and glorious, like Athena from the head of Zeus.
Golf outing is ambiguous too, however. It could be an organized excursion to a golf club, but of course it would have been silly to include a second ‘club’ on the baseball hat. Annual Oregon PTA Father’s Club Golf Club Outing. They would have needed a ten-gallon hat for that. Alternatively, it could indicate the annual ceremonial ‘outing’, on a golf course, or some, if not all of the PTA fathers. In which case, I could see why they wouldn’t want to invite the teachers, or the wives for that matter. Though the reasoning behind the commemorative baseball hat now becomes opaque.
I think the most straightforward explanation is that the Oregonian fathers have formed their own PTA guerrilla splinter group, and have taken it upon themselves to organize a group excursion to a golf course, to compensate them for the year of unending toil on behalf of their offspring. Being an enthusiastic, albeit somewhat unimaginative, bunch, they have commissioned a singularly unwieldy baseball hat to commemorate the event. And the Oregonian fathers – or at least, this Oregonian father – continue to wear their grammatically complicated baseball hats with pride, in honour of the debauched, drug-addled, gin-soaked orgy that was this year’s Annual Oregon PTA Father’s Club Golf Outing.
It's not like they'd remember it otherwise.