THE RIGHT SHOES AND THE RIGHT ATTITUDE
IT ALL STARTED, like so many important moments in a woman’s life, with a really good blowout. If I hadn’t given myself one that morning, I might never have met John, and this whole story might never have happened. We hadn’t crossed paths before, even though we both lived in Memphis and knew a lot of the same people. A bunch of my friends had houses in TPC Southwind, which is the gated golf community where John lived at one point before we got married, and where I live now. I was even invited to parties at his house before, through our mutual acquaintances, but I’d always said no thanks. I was working for my dad at the time, selling cars at his car lot. My friend Kent, who owned another dealership in Marion, Arkansas, was good friends with John and had tried to introduce us a bunch of times. I’d always passed. I mean, I really could have cared less about meeting John Daly. It wasn’t just because I wasn’t into golf, either. “I don’t want to meet any more rednecks,” I said. “I’m not interested.”
But when Kent invited me to go along with him to the St. Jude Classic in June 2001, I finally caved. Not because I had changed my mind about meeting John. But if I straighten my hair and get myself all done up, then I’ve pretty much got to go out to lunch, or at least go somewhere I’ll be seen. I’ll keep making everyone I know crazy until I finally find someone to go with me. On this day, no one would even answer their telephones, so I was getting real bored and restless. I wanted to go out, even though it wasn’t like I was looking so hot or anything. In fact, I was especially overweight for me, like 138 pounds. (Just to put this into perspective, I didn’t weigh but 136 pounds right before my son was born.) So I was real chunky for me, with these big, chubby cheeks. And I was wearing my fat pants, which were these black pants that were the only thing that looked halfway decent, an orange tank top, and some red flip-flops. But my hair was done, and I was ready to go out. So when Kent finally picked up his phone and told me he was going to Southwind to check out this annual charity event, I figured it was better than sitting around all day doing nothing.
I met Kent over at Southwind, which is on the east side of Memphis in an upscale suburb called Germantown. We walked down to the course, and it was a real nice day. The event is a big deal in Memphis, so the whole place was packed, and we spotted a bunch of people we knew. We stood and watched the play for a while, and then John made the turn, which is right there at the tenth hole. He came over to say hello, and Kent introduced us. Right away I was struck by the fact that John wasn’t anything like I had thought he would be. I was expecting this big scruffy redneck voice, and he was very soft-spoken, with this sort of gentle nature to go along with his way of speaking. And he had big blue eyes that were real pretty. I still wasn’t exactly interested in him, or anything like that, but he was a lot cuter, and much sweeter, in person than I had imagined. We followed him for a few holes. I knew John was supposed to be some kind of real good player, but I couldn’t tell from what I saw, and I wasn’t any more riveted by golf than I’d ever been. But I was glad to be out of work for the afternoon and having a nice time.
Afterward, we all met up in the parking lot, and a little group of us ended up just kind of hanging out there for a while, kidding around and talking. John wasn’t flirting with me, exactly, but I noticed that he was paying me a little extra attention. It was all right by me, but I didn’t think too much about it.
I ended up leaving Kent and John and going off with some friends who worked at the Silver Star Hotel and Casino, where I used to hang out quite a bit. John was staying at the Horseshoe Tunica, and he’d decided to have a little party in his room that night. He eventually called one of these mutual friends and said that he wanted me to come over. By that point I was with my good friend Lauren, and we were already on our way down to the casino, so we said we’d stop by John’s room. But then we decided to go to the Peabody instead, which is this historic hotel in downtown Memphis that’s known for having ducks that swim around in a fountain by the bar. But once we were on our way to the Peabody, we felt bad ditching John after we said we’d meet up with him, so we changed our plans again. We must have turned the car around at least two times, and we were just giggling, laughing, and having fun the whole way there.
By the time we got to the Horseshoe, there were maybe a dozen people partying with John in his room. He’d been gambling and had won quite a bit of money. Plus he’d played very well at the tournament that day. And as I soon learned, just how well John does on the course, and at the slots, is often the key to whether he’s a whole lot of fun or the source of a whole lot of broken glass.
Even back then, I knew he had a reputation for being wild. I didn’t read the newspaper much, so I wasn’t aware of the details, but my friends who were his neighbors had told me things, and I knew there was always something or other going on with him. But that didn’t scare me at all. Like a lot of other women, I’ve always thought I could tame the wild ones, and the challenge of trying to do so was part of the fun for me. Plus, John was real nice, and it seemed like maybe all of that craziness was behind him. He was real attentive to me all night, making sure I had a drink and was having a good time. And then, as it got late, everyone started leaving, until it was finally just the two of us. We sat on the couch together and had a drink, and he decided he wanted to come clean to me about everything. He told me he’d been married three times, and that he had two daughters he didn’t see as much as he would have liked. He really seemed to be sorry for the mistakes he’d made in the past, and to be trying to live better now. I looked into those big blue eyes of his, and I believed every word of it.
I thought I’d finally found someone who was going to be good to me and give me a high quality of life. I ended up spending the night, and we had a real nice time. More than that, I’m not going to say, thank you very much. I’m not someone who believes in talking about what goes on in the bedroom. That might sound funny, given that I was about to marry a sex addict and get involved in everything that’s imaginably wild and crazy. But back then, before the strippers and Hooters girls, I still thought he was a nice guy. So let’s just leave it at that.
I left the next day and went to Pickwick Lake, which is about thirty minutes from the Horseshoe. I was with a bunch of my other friends, drinking and carrying on.
“Where have you been?” they were asking me. More like teasing me, because they could tell from the way I was acting that something was up.
“I’ve been out with this guy, John Daly,” I said.
None of the girls knew who John was. But the guys sure knew a thing or two.
“John Daly, the golfer?” they said.
“I know he’s got a real bad reputation,” I said.
They started giving me a hard time about him and how nuts he was.
“I think I’m going to marry him,” I said.
I was laughing when I said it, like just kidding around. But somehow, I knew that I really meant it.
The weird thing, which I didn’t know at the time, was that John had said the same thing to Kent right after he met me at the golf course.
“I’m going to marry her,” John had said, just like that.
Later on, after we did get married, John and I put it all together, and we laughed with our friends about it. Somehow, he and I both knew it was right.
What I didn’t know was that John may have seemed like he was coming clean about his past, but he had a way of telling only as much as was convenient for him and leaving out, or covering up, anything he didn’t feel like talking about. When he’d told me about his three ex-wives, he also mentioned that he was currently engaged to a woman named Shanae who lived in Dallas. But he gave me a line about her cheating on him, and he had already been planning to break it off with her. He made her out to be so bad that I didn’t think much about the fact that he was technically cheating on her with me; it sounded like it was already over between them.
He failed to tell me, as I was leaving Memphis to spend the day at Pickwick Lake, that Shanae was flying in from Dallas to see him. And though he may have already made up his mind that he was going to marry me, as far as Shanae knew, he was still very much planning to marry her. The St. Jude Classic was still under way, so she was walking around the course with John, totally clueless the whole time that he’d been with me the night before and that he’d decided I was going to be his fourth wife, even though she was still wearing the five-karat diamond ring he had given her the previous year. There was even an article in the local newspaper about John Daly’s fiancée and her big diamond ring.
I didn’t know a thing about it. Not that I would have cared, to be honest with you. I’m sorry if the way everything went down was painful for Shanae, but it was like that was just the way it had to be. I don’t know quite how to explain it, but it was like things with John just had this momentum to them, and I never had any doubt in my mind that we were going to get married, no matter what obstacles might seem to stand in the way. Plus, he could be very convincing, and so it never occurred to me that there was any side to the story oth...