5 Days at the Ponte Vedra 5 Star Resort
My friend took his family to the 5-Star Ponte Vedra Resort every spring for over 2 decades. It’s on the Atlantic Ocean, East of Jacksonville Florida. It has wide, white sand beaches that extend as far as the eye can see, to the North & South. The ocean-front rooms & suites provide style & comfort. The clay tennis courts and golf courses complement the variety of dining rooms and shops for all tastes. This particular visit to paradise was to celebrate my friend’s wife’s cousin’s wedding.
Uncle Bob (The names have been changed to protect the innocent.) was never without a glass of bourbon in his hand. One night, after a family dinner, my friend & Bob were walking to his car in the parking lot. Bob’s vision was blurred since WWII when a piece of shrapnel hit his eye. The constant drinking of bourbon didn’t improve his vision. Bob turned sharply when he recognized a long-time female friend, and planted a generous kiss on her lips.
The woman recoiled in shock and said, “Who are you?” Her husband clenched his fist. Bob embarrassingly replied, “Aren’t you Betty?” The woman shouted, “NO.” Bob’s rapid incoherent stammering and rumblings were sufficient evidence for the offended couple to shrug in disgust, and move on. (That wasn’t an isolated incident.)
Aunt Marge (Bob’s wife’s sister) was widowed twice. Her 1st marriage was to a wealthy industrialist. Her 2nd marriage was to a prominent physician. Those marriages allowed Marge to become an excellent golfer, winning her Country Club’s Women Championship 12 years in a row. At the age of 60, she still shot in the low 80’s. My friend was also an excellent golfer, winning many Country Club tournaments. He still shot in the mid-70’s.
Two things happened when my friend & Marge played golf during the week. First, the elderly, black, bag room supervisor noticed Marge’s 2nd husband’s name on her golf bag. He asked Marge if her husband served as a doctor in WWII. She said, “Yes, in the Pacific.” He replied, “Your husband saved my life. He operated on me when our ship was hit by a bomb, and metal fragments hit me.” Marge and the black man hugged for a long time.
The 2nd occurred when Marge & my friend arrived at the 1st tee. They were paired with 2 young studs who sized up the middle-age man with his elderly woman golf partner as easy pickings for a little golf wager. One stud suggested a friendly $5 dollar “Best-Ball” bet, for each “Nine”. “The most you could lose was $10 bucks.” They agreed, and the game was on.
- Marge & my friend won the first 2 holes.
- The other stud suggested a “Press Bet”, which doubled the bet to $10 dollars for the next 7 holes.
- Marge & my friend won the next 2 holes.
- Fuming, the 1st stud demanded another “Press Bet” for $20 dollars for the next 5 holes.
- Marge & my friend won the next 2 holes.
Suffering more from testosterone overload than benefiting from brains, the “Press Bets” continued for the remainder of the front nine and into the back nine with the same results, until the studs had lost a total of $315 each, heading to the 14th tee.
When one stud wanted to “Double the Bet” again, the other stud screamed “NO. THE GAME IS OVER.”
Marge & my friend told them to keep the $15, and just pay them $300 each. Their vulgarities were indiscernible as the studs drove off toward the club house, $600 poorer, but no wiser what hit them. The studs learned the functional definition of “Esse Quam Videri”: To be, rather than to appear.”
(Marge & my friend bought many rounds of drinks for their relatives & friends with their $600 golf winnings, at the Wedding Reception Dinner/Dance.)
- My friend’s 2 youngest sons spent their days “Boogy Boarding” near the ocean’s shore.
- The oldest son preferred surfing on challenging ocean cresting waves.
- The oldest daughter worked on a stunning tan for the Wedding Reception Dinner/Dance.
My friend’s wife was in her glory chatting with all her relatives, while walking along the beach.
When Marge ventured too far out into the surf, a large wave washed over her head, knocking-off her wig. The recovered wig resembled a drowned rat. At night, Marge entertained the crowd during cocktails by engaging everyone with familiar sing-a-longs, accompanied by Bob on the ukelele. (Marge sang professionally on nation-wide radio programs during her younger days.)
My friend spent his days sitting on the beach, under a huge umbrella, sipping a Pina Colada, reading a John Grisham novel, and occasionally nodding-off for a delightful nap.
Lingering lunches and delectable dinners, at spectacular venues, with lots of laughs, were sprinkled in between.
Life doesn’t get better than that.
The wedding was wonderful. The Reception Dinner/Dance, delightful. The trip home flew by in an instant, with a kaleidoscope of memories swirling around everyone’s head. Decades later, they’re still swirling.
Ponte Vedra is a Wonderful World … Somewhere Over the Rainbow.