“Hey, Steve. That guy over there looks like Kevin Costner.”
We were sitting at the bar, poolside at the Clevelander Hotel on South Beach. It was a brutally hot day, but Bombay Sapphire and tonic were making it all bearable. And the occasional walk-by courtesy of a bikini clad, tanned local girl didn’t hurt.
We were in Miami for a boys golf weekend and to size up the musical talent of a new country artist. The artist was “okay,” the golf was amazing, and now it was Sunday afternoon. We had several hours to kill before the flight back to St. Louis, so naturally we ended up in the place all single men gravitate to if given a few idle hours in Miami on a sunny afternoon.
Steve followed my pointing finger. “That’s not Kevin Costner,” he sneered. “Watch this.”
“Hey, Basil!” The Costner lookalike turned his head and a smile appeared instantly.
“Steve, what the hell are you doing here?” Costner turned out to be Basil, a friend of Steve’s from Arkansas, and he helped prove my theory regarding the gravitational force of South Beach on single men.
We sat at the bar, continued drinking and caught up on old times. Eventually the tan bikini clad girl joined us, her interest piqued by our loud laughter and conversation... and her apparent attraction to Steve.
Damn, that figures.
We drank and talked… laughed and drank…told jokes and drank some more until the world around us had almost completely disappeared. Which explains why we failed to notice the clouds that were building just west of the island. In an odd twist of fate, I looked at my watch at the exact moment I felt the first raindrop.
“Steve, shit dude our plane leaves in 90 minutes!” This would not have been a problem had we been flying out of Miami. Instead, we had chosen Ft. Lauderdale for about half the rate. Clearly we were now regretting the decision.
And then the rain came.
Not ordinary rain, sheets of blinding rain. The kind that prevents you from seeing 5 feet in front of you. Stand in it for just a few seconds, and it’s as if you jumped into a pool with your clothes on.
There was no time to wait out the weather, so we made a break for it. No sooner had we entered the downpour, we realized we had no idea where we parked the car. (maybe it had something to do with our state of insobriety, but anyway…) The car was several blocks away and we were clueless as to which direction.
We ran block to block, looking for a rental car of which we could scarcely remember a description, in the blinding rain, with cell phones that had already shorted out and shut themselves off. I remember considering the possibility that the car had driven itself to another location just to annoy us.
It rained, cloud-burst style, for 45 minutes, and it took every second of that time to find the car. Wet, drunk and laughing like hyenas, we got in and only then realized we weren’t the only ones trying to get off the island… the traffic was complete gridlock.
And our gas tank was empty.
After working our way across the bridge and through a gas station, and by the time we made it to the airport, Steve had decided he was staying an extra day with the tan girl and I had 5 minutes to get to my gate. I was still dripping wet and had to use the restroom in the worst way, but I had to make that plane... it was the last one to St. Louis until morning.
I ran the entire way to my gate, got on the plane just as the door was closing and found my seat. Of course it would have to be a center seat between two rather large people. Dripping wet and giggling at the thought of how the day had gone, I was the subject of much scorn as I sat down. I smiled and passed out as the plane took off, and didn't open my eyes until the wheels touched down in St. Louis.
Still soaked to the bone, drunk and with blisters on my hands from golfing, I walked down the ramp, into the airport and headed for the nearest payphone to get a ride home.
The next day, the weather channel had a story of the record-setting rainfall that had hit the Miami area. Hung over but home and dry, I smiled.
It had been one of the true, great weekends.