I had never refused a freebie in my life, and I wasn’t about to start now, on my,um, final stretch. Back in the buffet line for a second go-round I found myself elbow-to-elbow with Jason Day, the Aussie golfer and eventual winner of the Canadian Open. I desperately wanted to say something witty, or at least look partially cool.
“Good day, eh ?” I stammered.
Really, that’s the best I could do.
To his credit Day, apparently a friendly and down-to-earth Aussie, looked briefly in my direction and nodded. Who could blame him for finding the roast beef more interesting ?
It was a hot day and I felt like Chester,the old deputy from the 1960s western ‘Gunsmoke’ as I limped after Richard, who was intent on following Jason Day, Bubba Watson or the Canadian who led most of the way before losing at the end, David Hearn. Chester had a limp, and in 1962 my grandfather called him a cripple. Fifty three years later I refer to myself and my chronic sore knee as ‘mildly disabled.’ I keep hoping that I’ll soon be able to put a sticker in my car window.
We had only the one day pass and a lot of the golfers were finishing up their round. “How far is it to Port Colborne and this hotel we’re staying at tonight?” I asked Richard.
“Actually, it’s a Bed and Breakfast”, Richard corrected me.
“A Bed and Breakfast?” That was a bit of a letdown. “Isn’t that for older married couples?”
“Don’t worry,” Richard replied. “It’s 2015. What? … Are you worried they’ll ask to see our wedding rings?”
My anxieties were not yet dissipated. “Port Colborne near St. Catherine’s… isn’t that where those two psychopaths, Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka, did their raping and murdering?”
“That was Port Dalhousie,” corrected Richard. “That’s a ways away.” As a newsman and a near-local he had kept it straight. “He’s locked up for life now. And she’s down in the Caribbean somewhere, I heard.”
“Well, as long as it’s nowhere near the golf course.” I felt reassured as we climbed into the shuttle bus that would take us to our car in the Oakville parking lot. “How come you didn’t ask your old friend Muldoon to come ?”
Muldoon had worked with Richard for years as a colleague in the news business. They often golfed together. “Muldoon’s off golfing somewhere in the Maritimes.” He chuckled as he recalled a memory. “Did I ever tell you about the time we were at a black tie gala event on Parliament Hill when Muldoon and another guy came crashing out through the bathroom door, covered in blood and duking it out. I jumped in to try and break it up, as the other guy was a well-known real estate tycoon, but Muldoon was so incensed he just started throwing punches at me. It was a scene right out of Mission Impossible III, near the end of the movie, where Tom Cruise and Philip Seymour Hoffman come crashing through the door, intent on killing each other.”
It was hard for me to envision the likes of that happening today with ,say, Peter Mansbridge and Conrad Black crashing through bathroom doors in bloody tuxedos into the tables of the Prime Minister, respected journalists and wealthy fundraisers. “What did they do with Muldoon? Does that sort of stuff go on today ?”
“Naw…that was in the early ’80s. They just sent Muldoon away for a month, on full pay, to dry out. Nowadays they would have fired him.”
The sun had started to set by the time we pulled in to the B and B, located right on the golf course in Port Colborne and a mere seventy-five metre walk to Lake Erie. An older couple were being helped out of their car by the establishment’s proprietors. The man must have weighed three hundred pounds and his wife was a good match. They would end up sharing a bathroom in the hall with us. Richard and I nicknamed them ‘The Honeymooners.”
Before we ate supper there was some freshening up to do. Richard suggested a dip in Lake Erie.
“Wait a minute”, I objected. “Didn’t Lake Erie catch on fire in Cleveland at some point?”
“Yeah, well, that was in the 70s. It’s a lot cleaner now. Look, if it makes you feel better, I’ll text my son Jake in Toronto. He works for the Ministry of the Environment. He’ll have the latest update. But I’m going in. It’ll be refreshing.”
I didn’t want to be seen as a stick-in-mud. We received Jake’s return text soon enough, but just as we were toweling ourselves off after our dip.
Like most text messages, of course, it was brief.
“It’s been nice knowin’ ya !