In the various stories I've read about the murder of Steve McNair, the young woman found dead with a single gunshot wound near his body has been described as a "friend", a "waitress at a restaurant McNair and his family frequented", and as "the 20 year old Sahel Kazemi who was arrested for a DUI in a late model Escalade SUV titled to Kazemi and McNair."
She was the girlfriend.
Woman on the side.
Take your pick - it doesn't take Columbo to unravel the mystery here, because there is no mystery. Rich, famous married men get involved with younger women all the time. It's gone on so long there is probably a handbook somewhere describing the rules of engagement for these kind of relationships.
A handbook McNair and Kazemi obviously didn't read.
I was at the W Hotel, the one located in downtown Atlanta, last Friday night with my brother, celebrating his birthday. We'd gotten a good meal at Houston's in Midtown to begin the evening and were looking to do a little carousing.
The places I normally go when I go out are little neighborhood spots out in the suburbs, or old familiar Atlanta landmarks that haven't changed in years. So when I walked into the ground floor lounge at the W Hotel, I was impressed. It looked like someone had taken installations out of the Museum of Modern Art and hung them from the two story ceiling. There were conversation areas - little groups of comfortable looking chairs scattered around the room, with vast expanses of space between them.
The curved bar was small, as bars go, so when I stepped up to it, I could see the faces of almost everyone there. I took a look around for a few seconds and said to my brother, "dude, I don't need to come back in here."
Because the women just a few feet away looked just that damn good.
I'm not rich, or famous, so I don't know how hard it is for men who are used to having everything they want to resist the temptations of the flesh.
But what I did remember after speeding up the W's elevators to their sixteenth floor outside pool and bar, where the DJ pumped it up while bikini shod women jumped in and out of the pool and variously half dressed women wandered in and out all night, was how seductive all of this used to be.
A lot of us middle aged men would like to relive our glory years, but we don't have the stamina, or the wherewithal, or the opportunity to do it and still live our regular lives. At this point your lifestyle is often self correcting, with friends and family and work and other responsibilities that keep us from acting on those urges.
As I was writing the previous paragraph, I thought about my daily routines, like the Sunday ritual I am about to perform, where I go out to get the Sunday edition of the New York Times. The girl at Publix I kid around with as I check my stuff out, the customer service person whose pants are probably a little snugger than Publix would like them, will be there when I walk through their electric doors in a few minutes, smiling and chatting, the kind of thing that convinces us that we've still "got it".
What if I were to drive up in a Hummer instead? What if she knew my name before I gave her my bankcard? What if I had nothing but time to kill when she turned around and arched back a little longer than necessary while getting a price check? There is a right answer, but the real answer is, if it was the right time of day, and I'd left home in the wrong mood, and those black pants were straining just a little bit harder than usual, I'd probably say something - something a little risque, the way I usually do now, except in this make-believe instance, I'd have every intention of seeing how long it would take for her to slide into the passenger seat of that Hummer.
Thank goodness for me I drive a Ford.
The irony of this whole thing, at least to me, is that McNair probably was killed with one of his own guns, a weapon he was often found with in his car while the quarterback of the Tennessee Titans. That instant access to a gun that he thought would keep him safe is very likely the reason he is dead today.