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Let the Games Begin May 28, 2009

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.

After my sister bought Paul’s house on Route 153, after she had torn down the condemned barn in the back, after the size of the yard was realized and grass planted, it became clear that someday croquet must be played there.

So two Christmases ago, my parents and I got Alison a croquet set. And at last, on Monday, two games were played.

The game had been set up once before, last summer. Alison’s friend Richard had come to visit. A dinner party was planned, and Richard, on a sweltering hot day, carefully set up the course. Ultimately, a thunderstorm and steady rain dissolved our croquet dreams.

Time passed. Rain happened. Then, the long winter.

We talked about playing croquet on Memorial Day, but never confirmed it; at the last minute, Tim and I ended up with some important evening plans. I was ready to let the game go, but then realized we had enough time to make both things happen. We should play.

So Tim set up the course (I helped), Alison mixed gin and tonics, Tim reminded us of the rules, the brass (ceremoniously) played Arnaud’s “Bugler’s Dream,” and we began.

It had been, maybe, thirty years for me. I was terrible. I consistently hit too short, then too long. But it was quite fun, and it felt so bloody civilized. So civilized, in fact, that not once did I clobber someone with my mallet.

At the end of Game One, I said, “We should call Paul.” No one likes a G&T on a hot day more than Paul. Who knew how he felt about croquet? As he’d previously insisted on our attendance at a polo match, we figured he’d be open to it. Alison went inside to phone him. As she was dialing, Paul drove by, homebound after a day of work. We tried to scream/flag him down, to no avail. He would have to pick up the message at home. His new home. The one he moved into after he sold this one to Alison.

Alison, Tim, and I lounged under the shade of the big pine. Soon Paul showed up. Alison armed him with a gin and tonic. Game Two was on.

Turns out Paul is a bit of a croquet animal. He knew the rules. He was good. He played barefoot. He refused to shoe himself even when sending his opponents, his mallet whacking the ball that was both perilously close to and solidly fixed under his exposed metatarsals. Was he really that confident, or was it the gin?

Now that croquet has been played, I suspect that it will be played more. One needs to get a thing on one’s radar. One needs to remind oneself that one can. I now declare croquet added to the summer repertoire, and I challenge others on Route 153 (and beyond) to insist upon joining in.


1. Mali - May 28, 2009

What fun. Yet another reason to try to get to Vermont?

2. Adam Byrn Tritt - May 28, 2009

I do, indeed, need to find a croquet set. And a lawn. I used to play when I was much younger, when I lived up north, preteen, when my father would set up the course and my aunt would hand me a gin and tonic and mallet.

3. bridgett - May 28, 2009

Adam, “much younger” in my head translated to 10 or 11. I hope I’m wrong.

As for radar, that is so true. Biking needs to get back on my radar…

4. helen - May 28, 2009

Polo? Now that’s civilized.

If I join your next croquet game will someone deliver a gin and tonic to the 9th tee? Oh, make it a chocolate martini instead. And I want someone holding a parasol over me to shield me from the sun, and absolute silence as I make my shots.

5. Lynda - May 28, 2009

We beat you to it – in our collective back yards when you were away in NYC/NJ. But that doesn’t mean we can’t join you in the future…and we will.

I suspect Alison’s course is a bit less challenging, considering the lack of hills that aour have. It was interesting to watch, to say the least. And I have pictures…

6. indigobunting - May 29, 2009

Mali: Anytime.

Adam: Oh so precocious.

Bridgett: Fishing and canoeing need to get back on my radar. And my canoe rack needs to get back on my car. Oh, and air needs to get back in my bike tires.

Helen: Alas, I only got to one polo game—they used to hold several a year in a nearby town. We can easily get you a chocolate martini. Tim makes a mean one. We, however, only make the ones that look absolutely clear…no brown martinis! (but a dusting of semisweet chocolate) We’ll even do our best to provide you with a 9th tee and a parasol.

Lynda: Tim insists we can manage croquet in our backyards. I’m willing to try, but yes, it would be quite the different game from the one at Alison’s. (And I wasn’t exactly good there.) I want to see pictures!

7. Dona Patrick - May 29, 2009

We used to play croquet. In fact we were given a croquet set for our wedding (one of the few things we asked for) and took it on our honeymoon to Chetek and played there a few times *(the guys are juggling croquet balls in the last photo). We played it in our small yard in Alexandria — and made an unusual “C” shaped course around the house. We played it here, outside the fence (an area much more suited to lawn bowling). Then we had kids. Do you know what kids do with croquet balls? They throw them in the pachysandra.

We’re still finding croquet balls in the pachysandra.

Now I want to play again!

8. Craig (Maito Sewa Yoleme) - May 29, 2009

I’ve always dreamed of a home with a perfectly flat, regulation-sized croquet lawn, with regulation equipment, and everyone dressed in white linen, sipping (yes) gin and tonics.

The last time I did so, though I didn’t wear white or linen, was in college, at the home of a college chum whose folks were quite well off and who were friends with the extraordinarily wealthy King Peter, who had given them several cases of vintage Dom Perignon. So after a couple of G&Ts, the parents pulled out a few bottles of Dom, and we toasted King Peter’s beneficence before beginning yet another game of croquet.

9. Deloney - May 29, 2009

Miniature golf with guys in suits and sunglasses after a funeral. Wish I had some photos.

10. Eulalia (Lali) Benejam Cobb - May 30, 2009

I don’t believe I’ve ever watched croquet, let alone played it. But I do have experience with G&Ts.

11. bettyslocombe - June 1, 2009

Nasty, vicious game. Cucumber sandwich, anyone?

12. LisaS - June 2, 2009

barefoot metatarsals and wooden mallets. oh, i could almost smell the freshly cut (aaachooo!) grass!

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