Saturday, December 11, 2010

The smile

I possess exactly no photographic evidence that Kathleen and I attended the 2004 Ryder Cup in suburban Detroit. I do have a sweater from the tournament, but that could just as easily have been purchased online. Cameras and cell phones weren't allowed on the course for rather obvious reasons, and we were all patted down thoroughly. I selected a delightful local woman to search my person, then returned to the back of the line for another go.

I do, however, have an amusing anecdote. The Americans, of course, were destroyed by the Europeans, and by early Sunday (the day for which we had drawn tickets), the outcome was no longer in doubt. We watched Phil Mickelson spray shots all over the golf course and pretended to accept in good grace the drinking of the Irish and Brits around the clubhouse.

At some point, hoping to salvage something out of the day, we decided to follow Tiger Woods -- this was before he had tarnished himself with outlandish public and private behavior. We set up somewhere on a back-nine fairway and waited for the conquering hero to approach. Kathleen, it must be said, had noted earlier in the day, that Michael Jordan was walking the course with Tiger, well inside the ropes that kept the peasants at bay. While I was there to marvel at Tiger's shot-making, Kathleen became a tad obsessed with Jordan, and not in a good way.

As it happened, the man who had broken every Utahn's heart in 1998 and 1999 by nearly single-handedly defeating our Jazz in what will undoubtedly be the only chance the out-spent Jazz will ever have to win the NBA championship, came wandering up the fairway not 15 feet from us at one point. All alone, not a soul with a hundred feet. Despite my pleas to Kathleen to pretend not to even notice the 6-6 strikingly handsome black man walking all alone up the fairway in the middle the world's most famous international golf competition, she couldn't help herself.

"Hey, Michael," she said seductively. "How about a smile?" Oh, boy.

Well, Michael of the famous underwear commercials and notable athletic prowess turned without slowing his smooth stride and flashed what can only be described as a smile of dazzling brilliance, charm and, yes, beauty. He kept his focus on Kathleen for what seemed like 30 seconds, though it was probably only five. Even the smitten love of my life couldn't bear any more, and sort of muttered, "thank you!" Having nearly caused my dearly beloved to swoon, Jordan turned and continued down the fairway. Ask Kathleen what happened the rest of the day and she'll have no answer for you.

We dubbed this trip our "Heritage Tour," because we spent most of our time in Michigan and Indiana, where Kathleen and I (respectively) were born. We spent a deeply romantic few days in a bed and breakfast on the shores of Lake Michigan, toured the Gerald Ford Library in Kathleen's hometown of Grand Rapids, and wound up in Chicago.

In the Windy City we watched a taping of an Oprah show and went to a Melissa Etheridge concert at the United Center -- in both cases I had the great pleasure of having the men's rooms nearly to myself. We had surprisingly good sushi at a sidewalk restaurant downtown and gobbled up the architecture and galleries. Dinner at the Navy Pier, shopping at Filene's Basement (just shoot me now), deep dish pizza. We needn't have bothered -- we could have gone home after day two and the Jordan smile.

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