My brother-in-law, Sam, had made the mistake that has haunted him for decades. He divulged valuable information to the wrong people.
He told my boyfriend Bob, who is now my husband, and me that his mother mentioned that he looked like Burt Reynolds. She was right, he had Burt’s rustic look with dark hair, a mustache, and heavy eyebrows that framed his brown eyes. Regardless, we had set him up for humiliation.
Bob and I had spent months in a resort and knew many restaurant owners and bartenders. We had planned to meet Sam and my sister, Kathy, for appetizers in a bar that we frequented. We arrived first and asked the bartender to tell Sam, who would arrive shortly, that he looked like Burt Reynolds.
Sam and Kathy entered and sat down at the wooden bar beside us, and before they ordered, the bartender said, “You look just like Burt Reynolds.”
Sam rolled his eyes and smiled knowing that Bob and I loved to agitate. He said, “I see that you have been talking to my wacky sister-in-law and her boyfriend.” The bartender laughed. That was the beginning of Sam’s hell.
We left the bar ahead of Sam and Kathy and drove in heavy traffic to an outdoor-dockside restaurant where an acquaintance of ours, Charlie, sang island songs and strummed the guitar. On that humid July night, people packed the tables and bar. Bob and I had arrived and the hostess sat us at a recently vacated dockside table. When Charlie finished his set with Jackson Browne’s “Running on Empty,” we approached and asked him to watch for my sister, a beautiful blond, and my brother-in-law, who resembled Burt Reynolds. “When you spot them, would you please announce that Burt Reynold’s has arrived?” Charlie laughed and agreed.
Ten minutes later, Kathy and Sam ambled around the corner to the deck. Charlie stopped abruptly in the middle of Jimmy Buffett’s “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes,” ending with “If we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane.” I had hoped that these wise words impacted Sam’s outlook on this night.
Charlie stood up from his stool and laid his guitar down and said, “Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome our surprise guest Burt Reynolds and give him a big hand.”
Bob and I stood at our table and waved to Kathy and Sam. The sundress and polo shirt crowd cheered and clapped as Sam and Kathy skirted the tables heading our way. Sam shook his head and glared at me. When Sam and Kathy sat down, the three of us convulsed with laughter. Sam didn’t smile.
Meanwhile, John Philip Sousa’s “The Stars and Stripes Forever” blasted from a yacht motoring into the harbor. When the boat captain had tried to dock, he had skimmed a piling near our table with the yacht’s bow rail. We watched and heard the rail’s metal pieces click off one by one, like dominoes and splash in the water. We suspected that the captain was drunk. Lucky for us, no one cared about “Burt” anymore.
Sam didn’t divorce my sister over her family’s unusual sense of humor, and they are still married after forty-plus years.
That was the first of several stories about how we tortured our wonderful brother-in-law. Thank goodness he still has a sense of humor.
I changed the names to protect the innocent and guilty.