Saturday, March 19, 2011

Sand Trap

Big mistake--playing Glencroft with Mr. Tanaka. Huge mistake. Didn’t make sense from a logic standpoint. I was already shelling out $25,000 a year for my membership at High Meadow and could read most of the greens like comic books. They served a decent prime rib, kept a stash of Cubans in a walk-in humidor; we could have had the newly renovated Fairway Room to ourselves.
     But Tanaka was the one with his finger on the PLAY button; the decision--any decision--was his to make. After 16 months of bowing and gifts, his assistant hinted that Tanaka-san might be ready to discuss our relationship in slightly more formal terms. I took it as a solid maybe.
     For eight months I’d been hanging it out there with him on a seniors housing development planned for what was left of Pease Air Force Base; we were going to condo the hangars, convert the airstrip to shuffleboard courts, make a killing on a lot of people’s Golden Years.
     I spent my days skimming Sun Tzu for ways to breach the walls of innuendo, wearing two watches so I could work the time zones and slip sock-footed into Tanaka’s schedule. My status reports on the project became the highlight of the firm’s weekly business development meetings, anticipated like a favorite sitcom, my excuses quoted on express trains to Larchmont and New Canaan. Some joker even put up a chart in the conference room that measured my progress in grains of rice.
     I was backing out of a sit-down with the Managing Director when my secretary told me Tanaka’s assistant was on the line. Tanaka-san would be in New York for three days; he looked forward to playing golf at the famous Glencroft Country Club on the morning of the 21st. Tanaka-san sent his regards.
     I thanked his number two in Berlitz Japanese and began clearing my calendar for the golf outing. I wasn’t about to torpedo the financing on the Millenium Estates deal.
     A brief word about my career at that point: Lady Luck was out of town, so to speak. Hadn’t left any forwarding address either. Bottom line: my numbers for the year were a little soft. Not that I was rattled. Like I told the MD, Babe Ruth was the home run king and the strike-out king. It was all just a matter of swinging like hell; for the Babe, it was a Louisville Slugger.
     In my case, it was a bag of Calloways...

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