KIDS ARE KIDS,
NO MATTER WHAT
I was in the heart of the Carmel Valley a couple of weeks
ago, in an area called The Preserve. It is a private community of 300
homesites on a measly 22,000 acres.
I was ready to move into the first building I saw. Beautiful
stonework, spectacular architecture, lovely landscaping. And that was the
My three friends and I were going to play a round of golf at
one of the most exclusive golf courses in the world. We'd been invited by
a member, who (by inviting us) obviously didn't relish the exclusivity of
It took 25 minutes to drive from the gatehouse to the golf
course on the impeccably maintained private road. We passed a few elegant
mansions tucked into the trees, waved to the horses at the equestrian
center and polo field and finally climbed the hill to the golf course,
where our names were already inscribed in brass on our guest lockers.
The week before I had been helping out for a few days at an
orphanage in Tijuana, surrounded by a shanty town and indescribable
poverty. It was hard not to make comparisons.
We moseyed over to the driving range to hit some balls before
teeing off. No one was there (no one was anywhere) except for a group of
about 12 five to eight year olds who were taking golf lessons from a young
instructor. Some were girls, some were boys, and all of them looked as
though they were right out of a J.Crew or Abercrombie and Fitch catalog.
"Look," said one of my friends as we watched the
kids with their instructor. "There's the Lucky Sperm Club."
They certainly did seem lucky, at first glance. A golf
lesson, then maybe a swim, followed by perhaps a horseback ride in the
afternoon. How lucky can you get?
Compared to the kids at the Tijuana orphanage, these kids at
The Preserve had everything money can buy, along with at least one, and
maybe two, parents.
The orphanage kids had very, very little other than the
clothes on their back. They shared one bicycle among the 40 of them, and
their recreation mostly consisted of a nerf football, a whiffle ball and a
No one would ever call the orphanage kids The Lucky Sperm
Club. But if smiles and laughter is a measurement, the orphanage kids take
second to none.
They exuded joy. The simplest of games created gales of
laughter and hugs and giggles and satisfied smiles. A little kitten
appeared out of nowhere and the girls followed it for hours, taking turns
cradling it in their arms. The boys, full of energy, ran from one game to
another, laughing all the way.
Meanwhile, back at The Preserve, The Lucky Sperm Club was
learning how to hit a five-iron. They would swing mightily, miss mightily,
and move to the back of the line. Pretty soon it was time for them to have
a "playing lesson," on one of the most exclusive courses in the
I last saw them near the first green, where they moved to the
side as we hit our approach shots. They each had their little golf bags,
which were almost bigger than them, and they trudged lazily out of the way
as we played through.
The scene was spectacular. Gorgeous, tree-studded rolling
hills with views every which way, and the glistening green of a perfectly
maintained golf course. The rich kids, looking very bored, waved shyly and
politely as we passed.
The kids at the Tijuana orphanage had a playing field, too.
It was an asphalt basketball court/soccer field, which was right next to a
little creek which was about fifteen feet below the court level.
Unfortunately, the creek smelled like raw sewage and there
was no barrier whatsoever at the edge of the court. It gave new meaning to
the basketball term "fadeaway" shot. If you shot a fadeaway from
the right corner, you would disappear off the ledge.
The kids didn't care. They loved their "field,"
they loved the game. They just smiled and laughed, and when the ball went
over the edge, they just climbed down and retrieved it out of the raw
sewage and kept playing.
They'll probably never learn to hit a five-iron. Their
challenges are many, with more most certainly to come. But for now, they
sure know how to laugh, and they sure know how to play.