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Beaches, Biotech And Bill Now That Gates Is Married, An Annual Weekend Away With An Old Flame Just Doesn’t Compute

Celia Rivenbark Wilmington (N.C.) Morning Star

OK, let’s see if I’ve got this straight. “Time” magazine reports in a recent profile of mega-billionaire Bill Gates that, as part of an agreement with his wife, he gets to spend one weekend a year with an old girlfriend at her beach house. Just the two of them. All alone. All weekend.

Gates says it’s perfectly innocent, that the two of them spend all their time “walking on the beach, playing miniature golf and discussing biotechnology.”

This is, as they say, good work if you can get it.

If I saw my husband headed for the airport to visit one of his leggy ex-girlfriends for the weekend, I’d be forced to violate the annual beach trek agreement and go upside his head.

If he even dared to propose such a weekend getaway, the conversation at our house would go something like this:

“Hon, I’ve been feeling stressed at work and I could really use a breather. I’d like to go visit my ex-girlfriend at her beach house for a couple of days, just the two of us, so I can unwind a bit, you know, just be myself. Maybe talk about old times, play a little Uno. Whoa. Put that down. Where’d you get that? Is it loaded? … Ahhhhhhhh!!!!”

Some of you may think I’m overreacting, that in a loving, committed relationship, both partners should be able to trust one another completely.

Of course, some of you may think you’ve seen the Shroud of Turin in your spaghetti sauce.

And what’s this hogwash about discussing biotechnology on long beach walks? I don’t care how rich and brilliant he is, Bill Gates isn’t flying across the country to spend a weekend with an attractive woman, one he used to have a romantic relationship with, to talk about genetic engineering.

Oh, sure, the two of them may try to keep things on the up and up, but, sooner or later, that beach-walk conversation will slide into …

Bill: “You know, I’m working on a new computer program that will synthesize the protein from the bladder of a newt and transform it into a monoclonal antibody that will lead to the end of all diseases known to modern man.”

Ex-girlfriend: “That’s swell, Billy. Now let’s get my cabana boy to fetch us a couple of those drinks you can set on fire and how’s about you give me all your hot monkey love?”

The whole tawdry arrangement is reminiscent of Prince Charles phoning Camilla Parker Bowles while he was honeymooning with Di just to chat and defended it by saying that Camilla was his bestest friend.

We all know how that turned out.

One minute he’s being all haughty (and Chuck, like so many Brits, seems to stay on a kind of permanent haught, doesn’t he?), insisting that it’s all perfectly innocent and what’s wrong with a man having a female friend after all. Next minute we’ve got tabloids gleefully releasing telephone tapes in which Chuck’s saying things to Camilla that would make Larry Flynt blush.

Now there’s nothing wrong with visiting old and dear friends, as long as your spouse gets to go along.

I think Melinda Gates should pack up the baby and say, “A beach weekend? Terrific idea, Bill! We’ll join you!”

If Bill grumbles and pouts and whines that she and the baby will destroy his concentration and he’ll never win that waffle cone for a hole-in-one on the 18th, we’ll know he’s up to no good, now won’t we?

Of course we will.

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