There was fog on the moors and the hounds were baying in the night when I landed in Glasgow, Scotland ... or maybe it was just the sound of the jet engines dying down, along with the fog of three vodkas plus a sleeping pill I took for the transatlantic flight from L.A. Anyways, it was foggy and I was hungry. I drove around looking for someplace to eat until I found a restaurant that looked like it had typical Scottish food. A giant yellow and red sign glowed up ahead -- McDonald's! Ok, the name sounded Scottish and it had a drive-through.
As I drove along, scared shitless, on the wrong side of the road wolfing down a typical Scottish "Big Mac," I wondered to myself, "Am I the first Chicano ever to set foot in the land of Braveheart?" Would they look at me and ask, "What the hell are you?" Would they ask me to mow their lawn? I was kind of let down when I got off the plane -- everyone wasn't wearing kilts and there were no bagpipes to greet us. At least, they all talked like Willie, the school janitor from The Simpsons. Consequently, I couldn't understand a damn word they were saying.
I had seen a Scottish movie once called Trainspotting about some Scottish junkies and although the dialogue was in English, it was subtitled... in English. Trainspotting also had the funniest scene I've ever seen in a movie ever. It was the scene where one of the junkies dove headfirst into a toilet to retrieve a heroin capsule he had stuffed up his butt after he had forgotten he had taken a laxative. I was still laughing three scenes later (I guess you had to be there). Luckily, most of the people who worked in the airport and at that quaint little Scottish restaurant "McDonald's" were from India and they all sounded like Apu Nahasapeemapetilon from The Simpsons, so it was all cool. As I finished off the last of my Big Mac, I thought to myself, "Hmmm, Scottish food... not bad."
Now which way was St. Andrews? Oh, by the way, that's why I was here in the land of Haggis: to play golf in the Alfred Dunhill Cup (now known as the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship), a pro-am tournament at the historic Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews -- the birthplace of golf. I had taken up golf relatively late in life when I made the movie Tin Cup with Kevin Costner, Don Johnson and Renee Russo. As I pulled up in front of the St. Andrews Hotel, dawn was just breaking, throwing that magical early morning light across the golf course, which lay there like a sleeping virgin just outside the glass doors. While the concierge was getting my room and looking for a translator who spoke both American and Scottish, I wandered through the lobby and out the doors. There she was: St Andrews, the most storied golf course in the whole world, softly bathed in the day's first light with a gossamer haze clinging to her every curve, her bikini-waxed greens just begging for a hole-in-one. At that moment, I had an epiphany: "Chicanos were meant to play here. Look, everybody wears plaid. It's like being in East L.A., only with bad food and nobody speaks Spanish."
I had been invited, along with Don Johnson, my then-partner on Nash Bridges, and other international celebrities to play alongside European sport stars and some of the best professional golfers in the world. It was like dying and going to golf heaven. We were to play the Old Course at St. Andrews, Kingsbarns, a relatively new course at the time, which was a cross between Pebble Beach and St. Andrews and Carnoustie, a fabled old Scottish course over 150 years old. Traditionally, the weather at this time of year could range anywhere from blowing to sucking, but we lucked out and every day was sunny except for the day we played Carnoustie when it rained sideways. It didn't matter; I was having the time of my life.
I teed the ball up on the first hole of St. Andrews and as luck would have it, I hit it straight down the middle of the fairway. "A Blondie," my caddie Ian cried out in his colorful gnarled brogue. I didn't want to show my ignorance by not knowing what a "Blondie" was, so I just nodded my head and picked up my tee. It was only as we walked down the first fairway that I leaned into my caddie and said, "Excuse me, what is a Blondie?" Ian cocked his head to one side and as his face wrinkled into a lopsided smile, he said. "It's a fair crack up the middle, laddie." I love playing golf here; it's a great combination between exercise and a Rosetta Stone language lab.
One of the great things about a celebrity pro-am is that you get to play along with the very best professional golfers in the world. In no other sport does this happen. You don't get to play point guard with Kobe Bryant when the Los Angeles Lakers play the Dallas Mavericks, but in golf, you get to play in the same foursome with Lee Westwood, Phil Mickelson and others while they are competing for money. For the amateurs like myself, it's a thrill of a lifetime. For the professionals, it's like playing in the Special Olympics; some have fun, and some don't. The only other obligation that the celebrities have besides signing two hundred autographs per round is attending social events in the evening. This is where the celebs earn their keep. It is surprising how many professional athletes, along with their families and friends, are gaga over movie and music stars, and the reverse is true with entertainers and sports stars. So we all have a great time mingling with each other and try not to get too drunk in case we have to get up and say something to the audience. Most everybody fails at this.
The second night of the tournament was the big gala event. Dunhill was the sponsor and I guess they invited all their important clients. (I'm still not sure if Dunhill makes cigarettes or tires. Maybe they make both. Maybe they make "smoking hot tires.") At any rate, they have a lot of money and the crowd was very well heeled and well dressed. As Don and I mingled around hobnobbing with the riff raff, I noticed a very familiar face a few tables away. It was young Prince William, second in line to the British throne. He was attending St. Andrews University at the time, so it made sense that he would be there. He was laughing and yucking it up with his "chums" (that's English for "homeboys"). One person in his circle recognized me and Don, or at least Don, and he leaned in and whispered into William's ear. His Princeness smiled, nodded, and waved in our direction. In a flash, his buddy was right beside us and asked if it would possible for William to meet us. I thought he just meant Don; after all, just a few years before, Don was on the cover of every magazine with a cover, but he leaned into me and whispered "Dave's not here, man," which is the stoner password, phrase, or whatever. I wondered if I could score some royal weed from him?
We walked over to William's table and he immediately stood up and extended his hand. "So very nice to meet you." I didn't know the proper etiquette so I shook his hand and said, "Charmed, I'm sure. Prince Charming?" William couldn't have been nicer. He thanked us for being at the event, which I think benefitted his late mother's charity. We made more small talk and then went back to our table to have dinner. However, before we left, I noticed a very attractive young lady sitting with him at his table who I immediately recognized as his then-girlfriend, Kate Middleton. They were both students at St. Andrews and pictures of William and Kate had been all over the tabloids since they had just started going out together publicly. Kate smiled demurely and nodded in our direction.
As I ate dinner, I couldn't help but think what it must be like to be a member of the "lucky sperm club." William and all his family hadn't been elected to any office, yet they were the rulers of the British Empire, but without any power, yet all of the responsibility. Sure they were rich, very rich -- and that goes a long way. Now I've been rich, I've been poor, and believe me, rich is better. The Royal Family is expected to act as the perfect representation of the British people. It's their gig; it's what they do. Now if they fuck up too bad, they are probably hauled up in front of Queen Elizabeth for a royal reaming. She might even take away a couple of their castles and they would be down to 10 apiece or so. That could really mess up their weekend. So for the most part, the Royals behave; at least, in public. Image is everything, especially for the British; you know, stiff upper lip and all that. What! What!
William was not the first royalty I had ever met. When I lived in Paris in the early '80s, I had the occasion to hang out with Prince Albert of Monaco quite a few times. His mother, Grace Kelly, was an American movie star before she married Prince Rainier and became Her Serene Highness Princess Grace of Monaco. Albert himself went to high school and college in the U.S., so he was thoroughly Americanized. Albert was a cool guy and liked to have fun, but he also had responsibilities and knew where to draw the line. His sister Princess Stephanie, on the other hand, was a real case. Eventually, she ran away and joined the circus and became a lion tamer or something like that. Most royals don't go that far off the deep end. Most royals look at their options and go, "Let's see, ruler of the country ... or unemployment. I'll go with ruler of the country."
What I did notice pretty consistently, though, was that the male royalty (the princes) put off getting married for as long as they possibly could ... unless they were gay, in which case they got married as soon as possible. Go figure. If I were in their position (the straight princes), I would probably do the same thing. I mean, you can have any girl in the kingdom any time you want. Hell, you could probably even have a harem if you kept it on the down low, so why tie yourself down? Even if your kingdom were Monaco, which is about the size of the Del Amo Fashion Center, you would have crazy choices. The answer is the perpetuation of "the lucky sperm club." The royal family needs royal heirs; preferably boys, although there are plenty of queens (of both sexes) out there. If they run out of heirs, the population might say to themselves, "Hey, what do we need these guys for? They're expensive and they don't do dick." Believe me, the royals know their history all too well. You start believing your own hype and you end up standing in line for the guillotine.
All this is rumbling through my head as dinner is ending, and I see a big band setting up for dancing. I'm just chilling as the band starts playing. Nobody is dancing yet and the first tune is coming to an end. The band starts up sort of a Glen Miller swing tune and I'm tapping my foot eating my ice cream when I see this girl striding across the dance floor with a purpose and she's heading right for my table. It's Kate Middleton, William's main squeeze. I look up and watch her come towards me almost in slow motion; you know, like Bo Derek in that movie 10 when she's running down the beach. She gets about five feet from me and sticks out her hand. She wants me to dance. Her invitation is not a question nor is it a command, but there's no doubt that I should get up right now and dance with this beautiful young lady.
We dance a little swing dance and I twirl her around a couple of times and make small talk like "Are you a student here?" I'm sure she's thinking, "No, dummy. I'm here on a work-release program." She's on a mission and she's accomplishing it with aplomb. The dance floor is full of people. Katie (my pet name for her now) and I have broken the ice, and the floor is crowded with tweed-covered English jitterbugs. I resist every Chicano, two-drink minimum urge to pull her in and dance close, but then I remember she's about my daughter's age and the tune comes to an end. As soon as the music stops, she takes my hand firmly and leads me back to my table and deposits me in my seat. I have just been the chick. She smiles and thanks me for the dance and she's off. Mission accomplished.
I'm sitting there in kind of a fog and Don leans in and chuckles and says, "Did you get her number?" I snap out of it and say, "No, I can't break her heart like that. She has a boyfriend. It would be too messy." I recall this encounter years later as I watch the Royal Wedding seen by over two billion people, thinking, "She's better off. I hope she's happy ... no, I really do." And now, she's pregnant with the royal heir and couldn't be doing a better job as a princess and the whole world loves her. I made the right decision. I raise a toast to their future and toss back a tequila. I feel like Bogie at the end of Casablanca.
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