LA Daily: Miniature Golf and the Goddamn Volcano Hole

Having realized my own creative limitations, my contributions to the LA Daily will now be bi-weekly, instead of weekly. Let’s all celebrate with this week’s story, which appears to be about playing minigolf with my wife.

“Fucking Pagoda hole. That was bullshit. The volcano hole will be the great equalizer!” I declared.

She laughed as she teed up.

I looked around and tried to overlay my memory of this particular course over what I saw. My ponds were clean, my fountains were blue-tinted geysers, my little boats and seaside town didn’t have peeling paint or broken windows. The carpet on each hole was smooth and pristine, and the arcade inside the castle behind us was filled with dozens of different video games and pinball machines.

“I can’t separate how this place really looked in the ’80s from how I want to remember it,” I said. “I wonder if I’ve just idealized it, or if it really did look and feel fitter, happier, and more productive when I was a kid.”

She drew her putter back, and left herself in as good a position as any to get the inevitable six on the goddamn volcano hole. Behind us, the freeway was a wall of white noise, occasionally broken by the rumbling of a downshifting semi. The pond to our left was covered with a blanket of brown foam, broken by the nozzle of a dry fountain.

“Of course it looked better when you were a kid,” she said, “it was new then.”

“I can’t believe I never thought of that before. You’re exactly right.” I put my golf ball, yellow and worn, on the middle tee, feeling heat radiate off the heavy black rubber against the back of my hand. A gentle breeze carried children’s laughter and the unmistakable smell of that particular kind of pizza they only serve at minigolf courses past us.

I whacked my ball down the fairway. It rolled up the little volcano at the end and down one side, coming to rest in a corner next to some pine needles.

“I’m really bad at this,” I said.

“Don’t beat yourself up. I hear the volcano hole is the great equalizer.”

I gave her the stink eye as we walked down to finish the hole.

When I’m the king of the world, I’m going to buy a city block, and convert the whole thing to an 80s fun zone. It will have a classic arcade with vintage games, a single-screen movie theater, a waterslide, and a perfectly-maintained minigolf course.

83 thoughts on “LA Daily: Miniature Golf and the Goddamn Volcano Hole”

  1. What just happened? Because for the past couple of hours, I’ve been reliving and reminiscing about everything great that happened during my childhood/teenage years. It was such a wonderful Odyssey that I think I may have actually transported back in time to when I was eight years old and loving every second of it. Next, I was fifteen again, seeing Rocky Horror for the first time in my life and loving every second of that. Then, in one swift move, I was yanked away from that sanctuary by someone that didn’t share the same thoughts and dreams of my youth. Man, that was a total buzzkill.

  2. Me too, Angie. You’re never too old to use this nifty little thing called “imagination.” Having worked in Early Childhood Education for the past 14 years of my life has afforded me the pleasure of being a part of that world full of innocent wonder, even if it’s done vicariously through my students’ eyes and experiences. I wouldn’t trade it for all the money in the world.

  3. Excellent idea. In an 80’s theme park with a single screen Cinema. For real authenticity I can smoke wherever I want. Even blowing smoke rings into the beam from the projector.
    Ashtrays on the back of the seats in front. Ahhhhh. Now that’s what I call a Cinema.

  4. Jebus, Wil. I could set out to write about love and memories and the perspective of youth, giving myself a 10,000 word limit… and not encapsulate it half as well as you can in a story about a mini-golf course. You suck.
    (And by “suck” I mean “kick ass.”)
    (But I also kinda mean “suck” in that “I’m totally jealous” way.)
    Nothing looks sadder to me than an old, abandoned mini-golf course, with rivers run dry and giant fiberglass creatures dead on their feet. Without kids running around and laughing, they seem so odd and out-of-place.

  5. Oh! What a giveaway! Did y’all hear that? This is what I’m on about! Do y’all see him repressing me!
    /finds it funny she remembers more and more dialog as the night gets later
    //thinks slashies should make their way to WWdN:IX
    ///yay! slashies!

  6. sigh…….. I love(d) mini golf…
    There even used to be a TV show on Sunday mornings of professional type courses.
    It was like watching billiards played on the ground.
    Thanks for the time travel in my mind.
    Karen in the ‘burgh

  7. Hi Wil,
    You took down your Eventful widget for Penguicon. I was just wondering if you were still coming to Detroit this weekend??

  8. A Mercinary rides up to the courtyard of the castle and looks up at his lord prince – “Ah, m’ilord the pesants are revolting!”
    almost aloof the prince looks back to one of his advisors.
    “The pesants are always revoltin'” laughing to the others.
    ~quote from Dragon Heart
    Yeah… I remember a mini golf place near where I lived in Grand Rapids. Its gone now, but i remember how new it looked, how green the grass was. How sweet the air was. And how fun it looked. A few years ago before it vanished to become a self storage, it looked horrible. It was run down, the paint faided and pealing, and the places you stood were worn. I could see my self playing there once more. Alot of things were like that, with a surreal fealing of that almost dream like.
    I look at alot of places i loved as a kid and now all i see are empty buildings and wisp of what was once there as a child. has so much changed? Kinda makes me feel sorry for the beings like the Q. So long lived, how would they stand it if they were one the only constants that didnt change? Some days i think about stuff like that.
    Im still a kid at heart, love to laugh ane to be around others. I guess that is why i still play D&D on the weekends when i can. I love to create the story as we play to make that world seam alive. That is a sort of legacy i have throughout the years. Itts something ive done since i was eight.

  9. Have you ever been to Funspot in Weirs Beach / Laconia, NH? It’s definitely worth a trip next time you’re anywhere in the greater Boston area. Their entire third floor is vintage arcade games. It’s classified as a museum, but they’re all playable and (usually) in good working order. Really a fantastic experience for any videogame geek or child of the 80s.

  10. Have you been to Funspot in Laconia / Weirs Beach, NH? It’s totally worth the 2+ hour trip next time you’re in the greater Boston area. The third floor is a “museum” of playable arcade games from the 80s that are (usually) in good working order. It was the setting for the documentary “King of Kong.” My family’s been going there on vacation for the past 25 years, and it’s always a good time. There’s also a beat-up minigolf course that I love beyond reason, an indoor bowling alley, and nightly bingo.

  11. Hey, Wheaton…just because you’re currently swimming around in the bottom of some lake looking for a strange woman to hand you a sword, that doesn’t give you the right to bully us peasants. Angie rocks, man, show some respect! lol

  12. Is it good 80’s music, or shitty 80’s music? And by that I mean do they have New Order, Depeche Mode & The Smiths? That’s what I consider good 80’s music. Hair metal bands and Tiffany/Debbie Gibson totally do not count. At all. JMO, of course…

  13. I love(d) mini golf…
    There were even televised matches on TV when I was a kid, of the ‘official’ kinds of courses.
    It was like watching billiards played on the ground.
    Thanks for the time travel!

  14. Wil Wheaton I love you!
    Ok well maybe not, but you know, you are totally amazingly awesome, and I am so buying your books from Amazon! I just discovered your blog the other day, some random person linked to the old one, on some random article about [programmers?] being famous (it was quite lame, I must say), and anyway I have found you! YAY! Epic happiness, and you are even more amazing than I would have dreamed! ;D
    You put me in a conundrum though, for my darling Firefox will not display the comments on your posts! I have to use Opera! *flails*
    Well anyway. This post was wonderful and I, for one (or is that about 25 now), am all for you being king and making this happen!! ;D

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