Poor Robert’s Ruminations with Rob Whittle: The people you meet on vacation

Poor Robert’s Ruminations with Rob Whittle: The people you meet on vacation
Rob Whittle (Courtesy Photo)

By Rob Whittle

This winter, I was fortunate enough to take a vacation to the Midwest. Actually, it was the west coast of Florida, but every person I met there on the golf course or the pickleball court was from that great section of the country.

In their Midwest twangs with the sharp “Rs” and the friendly tones, it was like this: “Hi. I’m Bob from Iowa.” “Barb from Ohio.” “Ben from Michigan.”

If they weren’t Midwesterners, they were from Canada, which, of course, is the same thing. One conversation with a chap from Ontario went as follows:

Him: Where you from?

Me: Alexandria, Virginia.

Him: Is that near Lexington?

Me: Kentucky?

Him: Yes.

Me: Uh, no.

Him: So, how do you like West Virginia?

Me: Virginia.

Him: Aren’t you guys the Volunteers?

Me: No. The Cavaliers.

Him: Well, nice to meet you, Bob.

Me: Rob.


We had four sets of guests in our condo, prompting my friend Nick to observe that I was more popular in Florida than I was in Alexandria. Cannot argue.

I have made it through a quarter of this column, amazingly, without mentioning the most important thing that occurred on my vacation. I had an eagle on a par four. That’s right! Dunked a 7-iron from 140 yards out for a deuce.

My playing companion, Linda, actually saw it go in and jumped into my arms, smothering me with her hug. She looked like Yogi Berra leaping on Don Larsen after the perfect game. Linda is not a small woman, but I was able to stagger to the hole and pluck out my Titleist.

Then there were the spring-breakers. They seemed to head to the beach in same-sex groups. Girls with the girls. Guys with the guys. I imagine that the evening was their time to mingle. My significant other and I dubbed the girls’ gathering place Butt Cheek Beach for obvious reasons. And I mean obvious. It’s amazing that after exposure to this phenomenon – and I do mean exposure – you get inured to it. Just another thong. Ho-hum.

I had an interesting day with a fellow pickleballer who befriended me and asked me to play golf. The buzz around the court was that Steve was an ex-Major League Baseball pitcher. He certainly looked the part, standing 6’7” and weighing in at 245 pounds. Sure enough, it turned out that he was the No. 1 draft choice of the Yankees in 1977 and had played with Reggie Jackson and Bucky Dent and had been managed by Billy Martin.

He told me some war stories, including an encounter that his wife had sitting in the stands at spring training his rookie year. She reported to Steve that she’d had a lovely afternoon in the stands with a “very nice gentleman, a stranger.” She further elaborated that he had a “very lyrical” name: Mickey Mantle. As we say in Petersburg, Steve ‘bout fell over.

On the drive home, we stopped in Florence. It being Florence, we decided that an Italian dinner was in order. So we dined at the bar at the Olive Garden. Next to me was a 9-year-old and her mom. The girl, with her braided hair and oversize glasses, was cute as a speckled pup.

She introduced herself as Miracle and it was her birthday. Naturally, I told her about my eagle, which was met with a blank stare. I eyed her complimentary birthday chocolate cake enviously and, receiving no offer, we said our goodbyes. Miracle … huh.

Did I mention I had an eagle?

The writer is CEO of Williams Whittle Advertising and is the author of two historical novels, “Pointer’s War” and “Pointer and the Russian.” He can be reached at rwhittle@williamswhittle.com.