It was lovely to see everybody again--Janet
and Eddie, I'm sorry I missed saying goodbye to you too, and it was wonderful to
meet the 'newbies'.
I don't know what magic Char was workin', but the condo was gorgeous, like something out of a TV series. Brand new, with ceramic tile floors, marble countertops, etc. Huge and expansive, so of course we spent all our time in the kitchen.
Sunday Q & Bobbert plucked me up from the airport and we went noodling around Myrtle Beach. Took a bit of effort, but we finally found a restaurant which was not a) a national chain or b) a pancake house. Then enjoyed a lovely stroll on a fairly unpopulated beach--guess it's pretty early in the season, but it was about 78* and the sky was a cloudless azure. We left just in time to avoid sunburn.
Had just gotten back to the condo when Char called. In a sly little voice, she reported simply, "we found Jason".
I shrieked. She and Marie had been part of a recon party out to the course clubhouse that morning, to get an idea of what to expect location-wise on Monday, and for some reason, after stuffing their rental car full of bargains from the outlet mall, they'd stopped back over, and as they were standing scanning the course from the beautiful wraparound veranda, who should walk past on the path below but Himself! So Marie, who is, as my Brit in-laws would say, "not backwards going forwards", yells, "Hey Jason!" at him, to which he responds, "Oh hi girls", and explains he's got to go practice or something.
So I made tormented puppy eyes at Q until she relented and whisked me over to the clubhouse--only a mile or two--though she adamantly refused to remain, insisting that I was being very rude.
About which I couldn't give a @#%$, at that point.
So the Monday morning we all gather our assorted bits and bobs and roll out bright and stinkin' early, assembling at the House o' Blues to park, hook up with the others, and jump in the Luxury Motor Coach jobbies laid on for the occasion. A nice man with a 'volunteer' badge around his neck asks if we already have tickets; when told we did, he said we could just get on the bus. And somewhat to our consternation, that was the last we heard about tickets the whole rest of the bleedin' day.
We had all been very sensible and slathered on our high-powered sunscreen, and almost everybody had a hat of some description, as well as way too much other crap--but how could we know?? We decided to take a chance and check out the "Celebrity Long Drive" contest. We seemed to be about the earliest people there with any kind of plan, so we had a quick consult over the program (exclaiming with horror over the previously noted misspelling of Jason's name) and parked ourselves around the practice drive...green...thingie.
So there's our little coterie, and not too much other action; a big-ass boom camera with a honkin' lens, and multi-coloured rings of weights at the other end is being positioned. People in unattractive monogrammed shirts are milling around. Finally some good-looking guy with a mic comes and introduces himself, explaining that he's from a local sports show, I think. I expected him to be a completely useless git, but he was actually very quick, very funny and fast on his feet. He chatted with some other 'Celeb', a man who immediately confessed he and several of the others had been up the night before "drinking like Mickey Mantle" and we shouldn't expect too much (he sounded like he hadn't quit all that long ago). He seemed inclined to confess to other activities but the host jokingly reminded him that it was a family event and moved on. We were beginning to think that Jason would not be there for the contest, as one of the officials said it was really informal, there were no scheduled players, it was just whoever felt like turning up.
We'd bumped into Vicki, and she and Caroline had decided they would go and wait where the carts were arriving, but apparently Jason walked, because all of a sudden, there he was. And he looked just like Jason Isaacs. It was so....weird! Jason Isaacs! Right there! He was trying to figure out what was happening, how to get included, as they'd already started, and there was the requisite interview with Little Old Lady (who'd never seen any of the movies the other 'celebs' had been in--they kept saying "Michael O'Keefe of 'Caddyshack'!" like the poor bastard had never done another film, though I guess it was natural considering the venue). Finally he managed to worm his way in, and was announced: Jason Isaacs of "The Patriot". At which I began bellowing other titles, until Q pulled my hat down over my head--O, the shattered decorum.
The deal was that they were supposed to get 3 goes, but most of them got 4, and one or two more (I think Drunk Guy couldn't count any more). It was very low-key with lots and lots of teasing. I think JI may have taken 4, but can't recall, I was still so dazzled. He was also very good-natured, goofing about and cringing violently at his first couple of shots (and I mean violently, he screwed his whole body up in chagrin, finally straightening to yell "FORE!!") but it was also clear that he really wanted to do well. It's apparent he's pretty competitive.
At last he was done, and to my surprise, he came right over to us and began distributing hugs, a bit awkwardly, with the rope in between us. He was very very gracious, and said how grateful he was that we'd come, and how kind we were, and how he hoped we were enjoying ourselves.
We chided him (well hell, he was lined up in front of 7 mommies or something) about his sunburn. He said sheepishly that it was from his practice the day before, and expressed astonishment that he had gotten burned: "I didn't expect it", he said, "there was quite a good breeze, and it didn't feel that hot out."
Yeeeaaaah. Mukluk. Host dude came over and teased him about clogging up the joint, asking jokingly if we were JI's fans, and was genuinely taken aback when he heard that, no @#%$, we were, and one of us had come all the way from Chicago for the occasion! He observed somebody's "CHILL" button, and I yelped, "we've all got them!" He looked up, and his gaze went along the length of the rope, and he was really surprised. It was very cool. So he pulled Kate under the rope and had a chat with her (it could turn up on the Golf Channel in May, ladies!). JI signed a ton o' crap and finally, expressing regret, said he had to go and eat something--and put on sunscreen (Mr. Barndoor after the Horse).
So we gathered our stuff and levitated over the 6th tee, where JI's 5-man team was starting. The deal was everybody would tee off, and then all the players would use the position of the best shot to start their next shot from. So they had 5 chances every time, if you see what I mean. DH says that here that's called "Captain's Choice", but Marie calls it "Scramble". Anyway, they used JI's shot several times, and I know @#%$-all about golf, but his ball never landed in water, he never swung and completely missed, and he never struck a spectator, so he did better than many. At first his teammates seemed really puzzled by the entourage, but after a while they got used to it. They teased him a bit, but JI seemed very pleased to have us there. He said he was sorry he couldn't give us all a ride, and a couple of holes later did insist on taking up a bunch of bags and stuff. We ended up not using the stools much at all, since the golfers had carts and several of the holes were a significant distance from one another--and as reported, JI drives like a drunken madman. I was seriously worried about him at one point, because he had his leg sticking out the side, and I thought, if you roll that sucker on your ankle you'll know all about it. (He'd already told us the story of the cart he'd rolled on Owen Teale, saying that he hadn't been injured by that but that he'd feared that Owen, all 6'3" of his bad self, might beat him to death) JI seemed to take great pleasure in nearly mowing us all over, cutting over hills, driving the cart under the "gallery restraining ropes", and hopping over the edge of the walkways. The carts have electric motors which make them almost silent, and he wouldn't shout or anything, just come zooming up and nearly take you out. He was like something from a Warner Brothers cartoon that got vetoed as being a bad example to children. His poor team- and cartmate just clung on stoically.
Speaking of children, he was remarkably responsive and gracious to little children, stopping and chatting to all who approached him. It was kind of hard, because I think some of them couldn't understand his accent so he had to repeat himself a lot. One couple approached him somewhat timidly, asking for an autograph for the children they had left at home. They explained that they hadn't realized he was going to be there, and their kids wouldn't forgive them if they let the opportunity pass. JI immediately volunteered that he had some "Harry Potter" pictures in his cart that he would be delighted to sign for them. They were so surprise and thrilled, and he scampered over and retrieved one for them. So much for "NO MEMORABILIA!!"
The whole day was like that, very laid-back, and as Q said, we essentially followed him around the whole day, peeling off in ones or twos to rest aching knees (or bladders) or snag a much-needed sandwich (not all of us were bold enough to stroll over and help ourselves to the player food). JI took a lot of ribbing about us, but proudly declared that we were what made his team play so well. One by one most of us crept over and got an individual photo taken, and he was gracious and easy with all.
Those trousers--every time he went to hit the ball, he went through the same silly ritual: he'd toss his hat and glasses on the grass, and then search through both front and back pocket on the right side, pulling out his cell-phone and all kinds of other junk before finally extricating his tee, ball, or place marker, then returning all the other items before finally lining up. He almost invariably shot with his back to us, and it was hard to get informal shots in which he was facing us and had his glasses off.
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