By Michael E. Miller
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Friends say Wilson was a quirky, absent-minded Einstein teenager, with a complete lack of fashion sense and a self-proclaimed "shit-eating" grin. He was constantly inventing things — in college he built a hovercraft — but would often lose his wallet or neglect to fill his gas tank."That's what made him so endearing as a friend," says his college roommate, Paul Healy. "He was so unique."
Wilson often couldn't sleep at night, so he'd stay up playing videogames or ask Healy to shoot hoops at 2 a.m. Every year, he and his dad, also an engineer, bet against each other in March Madness brackets. One year, for Christmas, he received six alarm clocks as gifts. "He was like, 'Think my parents are trying to tell me something?' " Healy remembers.
"Just knowing him, it was hard not to laugh," Healy says. Introduce him to a girl and Wilson would be endearingly klutzy — trying not to spill a glass of water or get his shirt caught on a chair. "You could just sit back and watch and be really entertained for like 20 minutes," Healy says.
But Healy and Wilson's other friends also admired him for being a kind and patient brother and a steadfast friend. Wilson refused to drink booze, even on New Year's Eve. He was always the designated driver.
"If a girl got real sick, he'd be holding her hair back," Healy says. "He was the honorable one out of all of us."
Sitting outside a Starbucks in Greenacres before Memorial Day weekend, a small circle of Scott Wilson's close friends laugh as they swap these stories. They remember Wilson's love of darts and Ping-Pong, his MacGyver-like attempts to fix his car. They talk about the stretch of Lake Worth Road they've adopted in Wilson's name.
But the circle grows quiet when Goodman's name comes up. The guys keep their eyes on the ground. Jamie Baker, a studious 24-year-old with flashing eyes and acres of curly hair, speaks up.
"Yes, I understand, accidents happen," she says. But if Goodman was drunk, "he was very selfish. I think he should be punished."
Minutes later, Baker tries to be more judicious. She allows that the accident is "really sad" for everyone involved.
But Garrett Edelstein, 24, wrestler-shaped with freckles and red stubble, bristles at the suggestion that anyone should pity Goodman. After all, no matter what happens, the polo mogul will still have his millions. "It's just a blip in his life," Edelstein says.
Last winter, Wilson was living in Orlando, applying for jobs with his newly minted mechanical engineering degree and dealing poker to pay the bills. The morning of the crash, he was headed home to celebrate his sister's birthday and reunite with some high school buddies. "We were all planning on coming home that weekend," says another friend, James Courbanou.
Instead, the friends got early-morning phone calls on February 12, with news of the unthinkable.
At the Players Club Bar & Restaurant on South Shore Boulevard, jasmine seduces the air on the cobblestone patio. Trellises of fuchsia bougainvillea line the bar's arched doorways. A string of white lights twinkle by the tent where private parties are usually held. The bar overlooks the former Palm Beach Polo Club fields; now, tiki torches cast a glow upon the quiet greens.
Most Sundays, January through April, the polo afterparty lands here, where the cocktails are expertly strong, the barkeeps charmingly flirty, and plenty of dark, chiseled Argentine polo players whisper in the ears of adoring groupies. Booze flows so freely, insiders say, that customers have been known to pass out in the parking lot.
The night before the fatal accident, Goodman had started off with dinner and drinks during a Celebrity Bartending Challenge at the White Horse Tavern. Polo celebs Nacho Figueras, Marc Ganzi, and Goodman's ex-teammate Kampsen were slinging drinks behind the bar to raise money for the YMCA of the Palm Beaches.
"What's the deal here?" Goodman asked when he arrived.
Kampsen explained that people were supposed to put tips in a blue jar for charity. "So [Goodman] reached in his pocket and grabs a bunch of money and threw it in our blue tub," Kampsen told sheriff's investigators.
The friends drank and ate with a table of about 30 people. When the fundraiser ended, Goodman moved on to the Players Club, just up the road from his International Polo Club.
Shortly after 11 p.m., he cruised up the circular driveway, with its glittering fountain and stone statue of a polo pony. The valet took his keys and parked the Bentley convertible without skipping a beat — for the patron, no ticket was required.
Through the carved wooden doors, ornate as the entrance to a French chalet, Goodman headed downstairs to the dark bar, with its leather couches, green walls, and paintings of polo players. Not so many years ago, this club was private, and it shows.
When Goodman arrived, ladies' night was in full swing. "As soon as he walked up, he asked for ten shots of my best tequila," bartender Cathleen Lewter later told a sheriff's deputy.
Kampsen soon showed up, along with other polo friends. Goodman bought a $200 round that included tequila, Grey Goose, and Johnny Walker Red for the assembled crew.