Originally published: Aug. 25, 1972
Over your sliced Georgia peaches (they're in now) with cream and sugar, two slices French toast heavy with egg, sprinkled powdered-sugar and maple syrup atop, two slices Canadian bacon, cold milk, coffee, then a mouth-cleansing fresh plum (they're in too), this drama at breakfast.
Since the opening of the first 27 holes of the luxurious Carrollwood Village golf complex represented a hallmark event in the sport in our town, it seemed my duty to be there Wednesday last, verily even to play, though the weather was foul and the hour seemed earlier than the 8 a.m. really was.
I would play with great golfer Gary Koch, University of Tampa Athletic Director Gus Dielens and ex-Tulsa coach Glenn Dobbs, now among us permanently in behalf of Jim Harrell's Pontiacs.
I would shoot poorly (88) but win because I brought college All-America player Koch along to ride, and I would have about the best reason a fellow can have - surely a unique one, I think - for playing poorly. I was unnerved from an experience just before teeoff that was surely a first (and hopefully a last) for me, and unsettling, just as it will be unsettling to others on revelation.
As mentioned, the hour was early, the departure from home hasty.
On arrival, I quickly announced to friend Glenn Peeples, who is a golf director, and manager Mike Cleveland that it was going to give me a feeling of pride to be the first to use their men's room in the new, spiffy pro show Bobby Stricklin and Ron Cupick will staff.
Cleveland said he'd be just as proud of such a christening except that the restrooms weren't complete yet.
Blood returned to my face when he added that, however, there were available Johnnies-On-The-Spot 300 yards away at the swimming pool complex, even though he thought the regular restrooms were functioning already. The obliging and concerned Peeples said to hop in his golf cart and he'd rush me there to see the three new pools and inspect the new restroom facilities.
I survived a tour of the complex and a conversation with Roger McKinney, a workman there and a heckuva baseball player for the University of Tennessee, then double-timed with Peeples into the new restrooms.
He guided me past the lavatory area into the back where there were three-in-a-row stalls with lockable doors. After checking one, holding the door open and bowing with appropriate gallantry for such a christening, Peeples said, "Be our guest."
I rushed in, then rushed out yelling to the departing Peeples that it was nice but the spool hip-level on the roller was so new it was empty.
He said to rest assured, he'd go to a nearby Johnnie-On-The-Spot and bring a supply.
He returned a few minutes later and shouted over the door that they were out too, and he'd have to go to the pro shop and find something suitable. It would take a while.
I said it was okay, I surely wasn't going anywhere.
There was silence, a time for reflection, for a few minutes, then it happened.
Three women golfers came into the room.
One pushed gently on the door in front of me, perhaps spotted my feet, and then they began making use of the unoccupied facilities next door to me.
They'd be mortified if they knew I was in there. Not just a man but a reporter.
I'd be mortified if they saw me.
I quickly lifted my trousers off the tile, hoping my feet and legs would pass for those of a lady who'd let her shaving responsibilities slide a bit.
I thought of lifting my feet completely out of sight, but feared that might prompt a look over the top, the door being locked.
I put my hat on the sink as low as possible.
I tried not to listen to their conversations and their frustrations when they discovered what I'd discovered - the empty spools.
But, women carry purses and purses carry everything, so they solved what I couldn't.
Fortunately, none of them looked over the top of my cubicle.
I even planned how to raise my voice if some asked:
"Are you all right in there, honey?"
And once, while they were about, talking about this and that, milling around, the devil made me want to shout, brusquely:
"Hey, buddy, you got a match?"
Or, "Hey, don't you know this is a men's room!"
But, I didn't.
It was either cowardly or cavalier, but I didn't do anything but cringe and hold my breath.
Finally, rested, they filed out, still talking, the three sets of feet moving past my secret place.
Almost as if a comedy, no sooner were they gone, than Peeples came back, triumphant with roll in hand. Carefully, he shot it over the top pretending to be Wilt Chamberlain.
He'd not even seen the ladies come and go.
Only I had. I mean, only their feet and ankles.
I've teed off before large galleries, driven around Daytona Speedway and Sebring, had torpedoes shot at me, killed a rattlesnake with a stick, been bitten by a police dog, broken an arm and two ribs on one football play, had Japanese prisoners write me a plea in their own blood, but I don't think I ever have been so panic-stricken as I was those minutes I was trapped in that stall.
So, unnerved, I shot the 88. It may have been my career round, considering.
I didn't want to see what Carrollwood ladies were about.
Truth is, I think I'd recognize the three sets of shoes. I wonder if they'd recognize mine? Gad!