Mine’s Bigger than Reggie’s
At the beginning of the end of my marriage, my husband and I took a trip to the Bahamas with several other couples. Sixteen friends at the Atlantis Resort, lying around the pool drinking Dirty Bananas during the day and spending our evenings enjoying a long dinner followed by a little gambling, drinking, and dancing.
What? You’ve never had a Dirty Banana? Shut up! It’s a banana daiquiri with Kahlua poured over the top, and, all sexual metaphors about cheating husbands and Dirty Bananas aside, it’s enough to make you not care about a husband’s dalliances for a good thirty minutes.
I’d had big hopes for the trip. Most of the people in our group were friends from church, and I was hoping that my husband would re-connect with some of them and, as a result, return to church. It was also our first time away from the children since he’d been in rehab, and I thought that maybe some time together in a romantic spot surrounded by couples who loved each other might help us rekindle the love we’d lost.
That same week, the Atlantis was hosting a large celebrity golf tournament. Ten minutes after we checked in, someone in our party spotted Wayne Gretzky. Later that afternoon, another friend reported seeing Michael Jordan in the casino. At dinner that evening, one of the girls told us she had been in line behind Kid Rock at the waterslide. Pamela Anderson was on display in the pool area the whole week, although she wasn’t wearing her red Baywatch swimsuit.
We were literally in Paradise Island surrounded by famous people, eating fabulous meals, and competing to see who could be the biggest lazyass of all. It was shaping up to be the trip I’d hoped for.
Well, it was until halfway through the week. My husband staggered into our hotel room in the middle of the night and woke me up to tell me that he’d just disclosed to several of my girlfriends that he’d been having an affair.
And I should be grateful, according to his drunken reasoning, because now no one would ask questions when I filed for a divorce.
Humiliated and enraged, I got up and packed my bag. I called Delta and found out the next flight to Atlanta was at nine. I booked it and decided I’d rather wait at the airport than risk seeing anyone I knew, certain the story had already spread to everyone else in our group. My husband was sleeping with the lower third of his body hanging off of the bed. I kicked his leg on my way out of the room and said, “I’m leaving. I hope you’re happy, jackass.”
On my way down to the lobby, the elevator stopped, and an older black man who looked very familiar to me stepped in.
I said hello, and he nodded a greeting. Then he pointed at my bag, a soft-sided brown Samsonite on wheels, and said, “That’s a big suitcase.”
“Yeah, the ticket agents always tell me it’s one of the bigger ones they’ve seen,” I laughed.
He didn’t laugh with me. “It’s too big,” he said.
“I said that bag is too big. You can’t even lift it.”
“Yes, I can,” I said. “I lifted it off the luggage rack in my room three minutes ago.”
He ignored me and continued: “I have my own plane, and if you showed up to fly with me carrying that bag, I’d tell you it’s you or the bag,” he said.
The elevator stopped, the doors opened, and Mr. October, Reggie Jackson, exited the elevator ahead of me. After four days in Atlantis, I had finally seen my first celebrity.
I’ve often wondered what the man saw when he looked at me. I’d been crying, and I hadn’t bothered to shower. I was a sad, sad girl, so horribly discombobulated by the fight with my husband that I might have misunderstood the man. Perhaps he wasn’t talking about my actual suitcase. Maybe he was referring to the baggage I was hauling around, a load I continued to carry for years, until the day I decided I was tired of defining myself through the lens of infidelity and a failed marriage.
Nah. He was talking about the Samsonite. So as a public service announcement, friends, please know that in the event you’re ever invited to fly on Reggie Jackson’s plane that he owns, pack lightly. That lardass has to save room for an ego the size of my suitcase.
On the other hand, it would be awfully fun to show up with a bag bearing a luggage tag that reads “Mine is bigger than Reggie Jackson’s.”