You pull your driver from your bag, place your Titelist® on its white, wooden tee, and begin your waggle. The rest is a blur of energy, confusion, and memory. The clubface rushes forward, you hear the thwack, and the ball flies off over the greenery...slicing (first distressingly, then embarrassingly) to the right. No, it is not in the "deep rough" right, and not even merely "in the trees" right. We're talking on the fifteenth fairway...right. Far right.
You look angrily, then helplessly, at the members of your foursome. You scan their visages. You sense approval, and you do not hesitate. Quickly, you walk back to your golf bag, pull out another ball, select a fresh tee, and, before anyone can reconsider, you rush through a strangely adequate swing and place the ball somewhere in the 200-yard range of the fairway. It will do, and the day looks better already.
In tennis, it is the second serve (almost always more accurate, albeit with considerably less velocity). In golf, it is a mulligan—a second tee shot, usually reserved for "repairing" the first drive of the day. In tennis, it is within the rules. In golf, it is not, although it is commonly practiced by everyone from pastors to (former) presidents. In life, it is well, complicated—an elaboration on the "rules" after the fact. It is the do-over, and it is nothing if not complex.
|[b] Love-knot RF|
S/he loves me not.
You pause, look to the heavens, and reconsider (thinking back to the first tee at the country club not long ago). You look around, see that you are alone, and pluck a second daisy. Strategizing briefly, you begin, "s/he loves me not." You proceed again through loves and nots until you hear the decree you wanted in the first place:
S/he loves me.
You smile, shrug, and move down the path. S/he loves you. The sun is warm on your aching shoulder, and life is good.
Doing It Over
Well, let's start small, and keep the analysis to Western culture. That will do for now, since the whole purpose of this series of posts is to explore do-overs that cross humanity and perhaps even various species. We will have plenty of time for that kind of detail in the individual posts. For now, though, I would just like to get us started with a few examples.
|[c] Reset RF|
Imagine that you are teaching a child how to play chess, checkers, Clue, or CandyLand. Do you allow the learner a do-over or two...or ten? Let's say you do. Now, six months or two years later, the little tyke is beating you routinely. When do the do-overs stop?
Let's jump way ahead in the social food chain—to educational testing. The "rules" allow you to retake the SAT or GRE (or other standardized tests). When do you choose to do so? Usually all of the test scores will show up on the report, so improvement looks good—but not as good as doing extremely well in the first place. But what if the do-over is worse? Does that ever happen in golf, testing, chess, or cards? Yup. We have to consider that, too.
|[d] Midterm RF|
The Mother of All Do-Overs
Finally, what could be bigger than elections in a large country? Remember, we're focusing, for the time being, on the West. Well, there is no bigger do-over in Western literature than the one with which I will conclude this introductory essay. Think it over, and then get ready for a whole series of posts that will consider do-overs in all of their awful glory.
And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the
earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them
with the earth. Make thee an ark of gopher wood...
Wait. There is one more thing.
"What?," I hear you ask, "could top that—doing over most of creation?" Well, there is one more thing. There is one last little bit that ties do-overs together, from the largest (destroying all flesh) to the smallest (cheating in golf and chess). It is the vow of "no more do-overs." It won't happen again; from now on, we will refrain from hitting "reset" or taking another ball out of the golf bag on the first tee.
After this time.
And God blessed Noah and his son, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and
multiply, and replenish the earth...And I will establish my covenant with you;
neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither
shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth...And I will remember
my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of
all flesh, and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.