A state judge has put a Massachusetts country club under direct court supervision, saying compelling evidence at trial showed systematic sex discrimination that warranted judicial oversight in the public interest. The judge will personally oversee putting new policies into effect at Haverhill Golf and Country Club.—News item, January 2000
Owing to a harsh winter and business overload in the spring, it had been close to four months since I'd been out to my country club, so you can imagine my surprise when I drove up and saw all the surreys with the fringe on top. They were lined up where the golf carts used to be.
I parked under an oak and immediately went over to speak to the cart boy, who was now a girl. "Do you work here, miss?" I asked.
"I'm the cart person, yes," she said, eating yogurt out of a cup and leaning on a carousel horse that was attached to a surrey. "I'm Ellen."
"You're new, Ellen."
"Yeah. I was hired after James got karate chopped."
"James got what?"
"He called Francesca 'honey,' or 'babe' or something like that, so she gave him a karate chop in the neck and fired him."
"You don't know Francesca? She's the head pro."
"She is? What happened to Dutch?"
"Dutch Miller. He's been the pro here for 15 years."
"There's a Dutch who works in the kitchen."
"Dutch is the chef now?"
"I'm not sure you'd call a dishwasher a chef."
As calmly as possible, I said, "Tell me, Ellen. By what set of, shall I say, bizarre circumstances did somebody named Fran-cesca get to be our head pro?"
"I don't know. You'd have to ask Juliette."
"Boy, you haven't been around here in a while, have you? Juliette's the director of golf."
I stormed into the golf shop and went over to a young woman behind the counter. "Are you Francesca?"
"I'm Samantha. Francesca's playing in a tournament this week."
"She's playing in the same tournament."
I looked around. The shop was mostly stocked with women's clubs and women's apparel.
Heavy on the sarcasm, I said, "Do you have any fuchsia Titleists?"
"No, but we have egg yolk and lime," she said seriously.
I decided I needed a drink, a double Junior, and went around to the men's grill. Only, the large sign above the door said it was now called Emily's Cafe.
"Hi, I'm a member," I said to the woman who greeted me. "I see the room has a new name, but I assume I can still get a cocktail."
"Only on Thursdays, I'm afraid," the woman said. I countered, "You're telling me I can only come in here on Thursdays?"
"Thursday is men's day on the golf course. Naturally, you can drink and dine in here on Thursdays. You're not familiar with the new club rules? They've been in the monthly club bulletins."
"I guess I should have been reading them."
"Yes, I dare say you should have."
"Are you Emily?"
"No, I'm Dorothy. Emily's playing in a tournament this week."
"What if I hit your palm with a little whip-out, Dorothy? Do you suppose that would help me get a drink?"
"Tipping is not allowed, sir."
"What about begging? Is that permissible?"
"Sir, I will be happy to send a drink around to you in the men's locker room. It's where the women's used to be, of course."
I had my drink in what was now the small and cramped men's locker room, where an attendant told me he could bring me a zucchini and beet sandwich if I was hungry. I declined limply.
When I went outside to leave I found two female security guards standing by my car. One of them said, "You parked in Francesca's spot."
"Sorry," I said. "I didn't know."
"You'll know next time," she said.
I drove home on four punctured tires and desperately started looking in storage closets for my old croquet set.