Playing a Round with Eric

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Eric Berne - great thinker, but inexplicably he had glued his fingers to his chin

A game is an ongoing series of complementary ulterior transactions progressing to a well-defined predictable outcome.” – says Eric Berne

OK”, I reply, “tell me more”

in time…” he replies cryptically.

We play golf. Eric and I, against some friends, let’s call them Alan and Des. Eric is, by nature, a little deliberate, but we toddle along happily enough until I hit a nice 4 iron approach to the 5th which takes a bad bounce into the bunker.

Typical” I rant. “Always me. I must be the unluckiest golfer in the world.”

Eric looks on

Seriously though – if there are any bad bounces going around I’m sure to get them.” I chunder.

On the green I ask Eric to have a look at my putt. I’m not sure if it’s straight or slightly left to right. Eric refuses. I miss the putt.

Alan and Des help each other out and, of course, start winning. By the turn they’re 3 up and smiling – which is unusual for Alan and Des.

On the 10th Alan steps onto the tee with an iron. Des advises him to hit a driver. Alan feels that an iron would be safer. They discuss….vigorously. Des, as acting captain, decrees that Alan must hit a driver. Alan asks Eric what he should do. Eric says nothing. Alan calls Eric a shit and hits a driver out of bounds. Glaring, at Eric, Alan snatches an iron and also hits it out of bounds.

An hour later Eric and I win 3 and 2.

I await the debrief in the bar.

Eric decided early on that he wasn’t going to help me. In his words;

You seemed to be playing some sort of ‘poor me’ game….’boo hoo’”, he mimed, fairly accurately, “ I’m a bad person. Nobody loves me.’ This gives me a clue to the type of reaction I could expect if I did help you.”

We time travel back to the 5th green……

Eric looks at my putt and advises ‘left lip’. It is – it goes in – we halve the hole.

On the 6th I ask for advice. He advises me – I miss. The game continues and pretty soon I’m asking for advice for every shot. I’m not blaming Eric, quite the opposite – I’m joking and happy to have someone to sympathise with. Eric’s game however goes to hell.

We time travel back to the bar.

Look out for “poor me’s” – they want sympathy and support which can be useful but psychologically it’s incredibly draining. It’s not healthy.”

But what about Alan and Des?” I ask

It’s a potential drama triangle “says Eric as we time travel back to the 10th…..

Des, as acting captain, decrees that Alan must hit a driver. Alan asks Eric what he should do…..

Eric skilfully freezes the scene and talks to me.

It’s a classic drama triangle. Alan is the victim. Des is the persecutor and I’m the potential rescuer. “

So why don’t you rescue?” I ask

Look and see,“ Eric says in that strange tone people adopt in training videos. He then unfreezes the action.

Eric gets into a discussion with Alan about what he wants from the hole – does he want to go for a birdie, or is he happy with a steady par.

Des asks Eric what the hell his game is, “Don’t confuse my partner.”

Alan joins in and asks Eric what the hell is to him anyway.

Before long the roles have completely changes – Alan and Des are now the persecutors and Eric’s the victim. I join in and try to rescue Eric;

Hey leave my mate alone.”

Pretty soon we’re all dancing between persecutor / rescuer and victim and we end up having a free for all on the 12th green and are being questioned by the police for causing a public affray. Before they can arrest us we time travel back to the bar.

I think I’ve learnt a very important lesson today” I say.

Which is?” asks Eric.

You should be extremely wary of helping golfers.”

“…. or real people” adds Eric

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