[dropcap]I[/dropcap]N 1980, FTER LANDING A HUGE CONTRACT, my friend John’s company gave him a four-day/three-night weekend for two at a famous golf resort in Scotland. As he was single, he invited me along, despite my having neither knowledge of or love for golf. Of course I accepted but I had to get the go-ahead from my significant-other E. She okayed the arrangement.
John picked me up at our old house on Tokay Lane and E kissed me goodbye with her usual warning, “Go ahead! Enjoy yourself, hon! But if anything happens—and you know I know you and Scottish accents!—remember, always tell the truth.”
The two of us drove down to San Francisco from St Helena and then flew to Heathrow on Friday. At the airport there, we picked up a minivan, headed north, and quickly found ourselves in a rainstorm.
I was driving and pulled into a nearby estate.
John knocked on the door.
A woman answered. A really good-looking woman.
John explained our situation, and asked if we could spend the night.
The woman looked at John and sorta frowned. Then she looked at me, smiled briefly, and nodded her head. She explained, “I realize it’s terrible weather, and I have this huge house, but I’ve been widowed a while now. I’m afraid the neighbors will talk if I let you stay in the house. However, I have an apartment that my husband’s driver kept over the garage. I haven’t changed anything since I let him go, so it should be clean and dry.”
“Ma’am, we’ll be happy to sleep there. If the weather breaks, we’ll be gone at sun up,” John said and turned to go.
The widow agreed.
Thank you, ma’am, I said.
As I closed the door, she smiled again.
And I understood.
We ran through the rain to the garage, getting bloody soaked! When we got to the apartment, there were warm blankets and small electric floor heater. We even found a bottle of 10-year-old Laphroaig!
“Like the islanders, Laphroaig may seem a little aloof at first, but make the effort, broach acquaintance and we can guarantee you’ll have a warm and genuine friend for life. Take it neat or with a splash of soft water. Roll it around on your tongue. Release the pungent, earthy aroma of the blue peat smoke, the sweet nuttiness of the barley and the heathery perfume of Islay’s streams.” (Laphroaig)
After a few whiskeys, John said, “My God, she’s a good-looking woman! What’s she, like fifty? No more than fifty-five. Man, I’ll bet she was a looker when she was younger!”
I couldn’t say anything about the widow’s smile, so I just nodded my head. Not feeling the least bit guilty—Hell, I knew how much John loved single-malt whiskey, especially those dark peaty ones from Islay—I filled John’s glass to the brim while leaving mine untouched.
When morning arrived, the weather was clear and we were on their way. When we got to the course, we found that the storm had blessedly missed the greens.
Needless to say, we had a helluva weekend!
A year later, John received a letter from an attorney in Edinburgh. He was a bit baffled at first, but he figured it out a few moments. (I learned all this afterward, of course.) He called me up: “Hey, Nealie buddyboy! Do you remember that good-looking widow we stayed with in Scotland?”
Yeah, sure. Of course I do. Elspeth.
“Uh huh, you know her name. Right. Did you happen to get up in the middle of the night?” John asked. “And, you know, pay Elspeth a visit?”
Uh oh, I thought. Well, um, yeah. Yeah, I did.
“Um, buddyboy,” John inquired, “did you give her my name instead of yours?”
Look, I’m sorry, man! But I couldn’t risk Elaine finding out. Not even 5,000 miles away! You know we have a sorta open-relationship thing, but I’m trying to stay, you know, monogamous! And I promised I’d tell her the truth and I didn’t. I can’t!
“Why not?” John replied.
Because it was so bloody amazing! I mean, it was incredible! She was the best I ever had!
John knew all about E and how great she was in bed. He was impressed. “And how about her?” he asked.
Oh, man, you wouldn’t believe it! It was wild! We did things I never done before! She made sounds I didn’t know a woman could make!
“Wow! But was there anything else,” he wanted to know.
Well, she said her husband had been a good man. A rich man. But all they ever did was the missionary position. That this was the first time in her life she had ever felt like a real woman! That she could die content now. Stuff like that. Like I said, it was amazing! Why are you asking me this stuff?
“She did, Neal,” smiled John. “Oh yes she did.”
“Died,” replied John.
Huh! She’s dead?
And John just smiled and said, “She died. Content. And she left me everything . . .”
FEATURED IMAGE: “Imagine rolling hills, sandy dunes, a stiff breeze blowing off the Ayrshire coast. Before designer courses, before manicured greens and major championships, these lands inspired local Scots to play the game of golf. Beloved since its first formal course was built in 1901, Turnberry’s fairways have been shared by the game’s elite and casual enthusiasts from around the globe.
Even the conversion of its links to runways during two world wars could not diminish the desire to play here, a place made for golf, where countless competitions have been waged that shall never be forgotten.” (Turnberry)
In 2014, Donald Trump purchased Turnberry and, in a turn that most assuredly pissed off everyone in Scotland, renamed it Trump Turnberry.