Last year, a good dude friend of mine reached out to me to “dangle a carrot.” His 50th was coming up yada-yada. He’s got a group of guys committed to celebrating the half century milestone in the birthplace of golf yada-yada. Seven of them to be exact. “And…ugh…we were wondering if you’d be our eighth.” I paused for a good two seconds. “Have you exhausted your list of guys to invite??” Apparently the guys had already had the debate and somehow my name came up and someone concluded that the only thing separating me from the boys is, “she doesn’t pee standing up.” I should have begged the differ but whatever. Scotland??? I’ve always dreamed of going but never thought about when I would make it a reality. “Um…let me think about it.”
Since pulling the trigger in December and booking my flight, I’ve been mentally and physically preparing. I started to carry my clubs again. I watched my diet. I joined a gym and got fit…leaned out to 20% body fat. I even signed up for personal golf fitness sessions to learn how to exercise the right parts of my body. I wanted to be in top form to endure all the elements of links golf.
Our outbound flight was scheduled for Cinco de Mayo. A day before the trip, word got around that there may be issues with our connecting flights in New York. Thunderstorms. A golfer’s worst nightmare. Efforts to redirect our flights fell through. The guys miraculously made their flights despite delays. I did not. In fact, my departure time from LAX kept getting pushed back…for SIX hours. That included an episode of boarding and deplaning. The situation was so bad that American Airlines lined up complimentary snacks and beverages at our gate. TWICE. By the time I arrived at JFK, all of the possible connecting flight opportunities had flown away. It was nearing midnight. My new connecting flight wouldn’t be until 7pm the next evening. AA wouldn’t put me up in a hotel. Even my darndest teary-eyed-puppy-dog pleas gained no favors. Neighboring hotels were all booked. Overnight baggage storage wouldn’t take my golf bag…which I couldn’t even seem to locate. No one had good, definitive answers for anything. An overwhelming sense of woe-is-me took hold and I completely broke down. WTF. Maybe I wasn’t destined to be on this trip?? Negativity has a way of spiraling out of control. I decided to do what a certain game show contestant would do. I went for a lifeline and phoned a friend. A very good one.
Moments later, I was in a dinky yellow cab en route to a hotel in the financial district of Manhattan. There could be worst places in the world to have an emergency layover. The sight of a comfy bed was definitely alluring but my grumbling tummy overruled the rest of my weary body. I deserve pizza and beer dammit.
Around the corner was a dark and cozy pizza bar which stayed open until 3am. Gotta love New York. Ordered a small pie and Guinness. Since I had been waiting all day for everything, why not wait for my beer to properly cascade? Bartender Ryan lent an ear and after hearing what I’ve had to go through to get to this point, he poured me a shot of whiskey and took one with me. It was a small gesture but it made all the difference in the world. My lifeline. This bartender. The patrons were equally empathetic and embracing. I felt comforted and at peace with missing one day of golf. I slept like a champion.
The next morning, I decided to pay tribute to the fallen at the 9/11 Memorial…a day that changed me forever. I came to realize on that day that we’re all somehow connected. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have felt grief and sorrrow. Immediately after 9/11, I always made an effort to greet strangers, look people in the eye when interacting with them, put the kind in humankind, give blood, be patriotic and salute the flag everywhere I go.
I’m finally crossing the Atlantic to join the guys…some whom I’ve yet to meet. Regardless of our differences or our peeing positions, I’m looking forward to bonding over a common love and respect for the game. I can’t wait to be in the presence of The Old Course at St. Andrews. Perhaps all the pain and suffering I’ve endured will be behind me and the golf gods will show some mercy 🙂