I'D ALWAYS been skeptical of the double take. It struck me as a contrived gesture, practiced nowhere outside of cartoons and second-rate sitcoms. (Flo walks through the back of the diner and—stop! recoil! look again!—Mel is trying to smooch Vera.) Now I'm no longer skeptical. The first weekend in December, I was maneuvering a golf cart on the grounds of Cap Cana, a resort on the eastern tip of the Dominican Republic. I rounded a corner and could have sworn I was looking at Alex Rodriguez, not 10 yards away, teeing off on the fourth hole. What the...? I jerked back and looked a second time. Yup. A-Rod, all right.
Then again, it was somehow fitting. Cap Cana is the kind of place where the lines between reality and surreality get a bit blurry. A gorgeous fantasyland that luxuriates along the Caribbean, Cap Cana is almost creepily perfect. The beach is fine nonstick powder fringed by natural bluffs and by surf tinted that exquisite Caribbean shade of blue-green. There's world-class fishing just offshore.
Like the naturally beautiful supermodel who still goes to great measures to gussy herself up, Cap Cana has plenty of man-made enhancements, too, not least of which is the Jack Nicklaus-designed Punta Espada golf course. When completed, the Cap Cana Marina will be the largest in the Caribbean. The usual resort amenities—spa, tennis, fine seafood-based dining, luxe accommodations—veer close to the point of excess. Who ever thought to put a hot tub in the middle of a swimming pool?
Back to A-Rod. What was he doing there? He had come to Cap Cana for a charity golf tournament held by David Ortiz, the Red Sox star, a Dominican native. Others in the field included Pedro Martinez, Vladimir Guerrero, Ryan Howard and Mariano Rivera. Later that afternoon I saw Rodriguez again in the hotel lobby. As he walked through, another guest spotted him—another double take—and blurted out, "A-Rod? What are you doing here?" He smiled, opened his palms and gestured to the surroundings, as if to say, Why wouldn't I be here?