Tuesday, March 1, 2011

How to Woo a Southern Belle

How do you woo a Southern Belle?  Well, every Belle is different.  We all have our likes and dislikes, although I dare say that 99.999% of us wouldn’t turn jewelry down.  Some of us like chocolate and some of us are allergic (how do they live???).  Some of us prefer the mountains and some of us prefer the beach.  We all certainly have our unique ACC preferences.  Of course, there is one little thing that a wooer can count on:  We all like to be listened to.

In April of 1993, my friends and I were facing the final spring formal of our Peace tenure and they wanted everyone to go for one last hurrah.  Please note that I said “they” because I was most heartily not in on plan.  I don’t dance and I wasn’t remotely interested in procuring a date for the occasion—I was single, drama free and loving it.  As tends to be the case with my beloved Peace Sisters, they reached their decision and my objection was neither noted nor relevant. 

Scott was a friend of the girl that lived across the hall from me and she thought that we would make a good match.  I didn’t know it at the time, Scott was as reluctant to meet me as I was to meet him because he’d recently been the victim of a catastrophically bad set-up by that same friend only weeks before.

My friends took me to meet him about a week before the formal.  We discussed our mutual love of Jimmy Buffett and regaled each other with our various Buffett concert adventures.  Time was ticking away and I figured a fellow Parrothead couldn’t be all bad, so I went for it and asked if he would be interested in going to the formal with me.  He said yes without pause—woohoo! 

I felt terrible about the short notice and the fact that Scott would have to rent a tux, so I pulled an Amy Vanderbilt and sent him flowers as a show of appreciation.  No one had ever sent Scott flowers before and no boyfriend had ever treated me like I was worthy of respect and consideration before.  We’ve only had eyes for each other ever since (18 years later for the mathematically curious).

Now, here’s the really cool thing about Scott:  He listens to me.  He may not always look like it, but his ears perk up when it counts.  For example:  I love the beach and I was clear about moving back to Wilmington after school.  He listened while I decried the over-population and destruction of the coast that I enjoyed from childhood. 

I told him about how Shell Island had actually been an island (called Sand Dollar Island) that took a boat to reach and of all of the wonderful shells we used to be able to find.  I told him that conch shells were my favorite by far and that finding one today that hadn’t been pulverized to smithereens would be tantamount to the Holy Grail.

Flash forward Scott’s sister’s wedding.

Scott’s family also loved the beach and they rented a great big house at Emerald Isle for his sister, Tracy, to get married.  The house had a lovely long private pier to the beach where they planned to do the deed.  We stayed at the house a couple of days before the wedding so that we could get things ready. 

There was a big rehearsal party at the house the night before the wedding.  Scott was acting as nervous as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs and I couldn’t understand what was going on with him.  He was always the cool and calm one while I was the fidgeting spazz. 

Later on during the night, he asked me if I wanted to take a walk on the beach.  It was rare that my extroverted Scott actually wanted to leave a party, but I’m always up for leaving a party and I went right along with him.  The beach was black as pitch.  It was October, so most of the houses were empty and without light.  It was also before my Lasik surgery and I was night blind enough to miss an elephant charging at me in the dark.

After a few minutes, Scott “saw” something in the sand and shot off—pulling me in tow—in order to explore further.  Once we got nearly on top of the object, I looked closer and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.  It was a whole conch shell!  We’d found the Holy Grail! 

I immediately bent down to pick it up for closer examination.  I can’t begin to appropriately convey the depth of the darkness and my inability to see.  One I had the shell in my hands, I turned it over and saw what I can only define as a black blob.  I knew that a whole conch shell on the sand was too good to be true.  I immediately realized that it still had the snail in it. 

I hate to set us back in the whole “gender equality” deal, but I am a girl and snails are slimy and icky.  

In fact, I was so grossed out by the perceived snail keeping residence in our amazing find that I immediately wound up to pitch it back to the ocean from whence it came.  I can’t remember if Scott grabbed my arm to halt me or if he just hollered “Stop!” but I got the message that I shouldn’t send the mollusk flying.

Scott wisely took the shell away from me and proceeded to grab the “black blob” in spite of my shrieking protests that it was, in fact, “slimy and icky.”  As he pulled it out further, I was able to tell that it was a velvet box and everything clicked into place in my holey head.  Scott took a knee and asked me to marry him.

Of course, I was pretty much saying yes from the moment I realized that there was a box in the conch shell.  He slipped his grandmother’s ring on my finger and, after we sealed the deal with a kiss, I was full of questions.

How did he get the shell out there and how in the world was he able to leave it safely?  Well, that’s where his roommates came in.  Scott’s roomies at State had been his high school friends as well.  He sent the guys out onto the beach to drop the shell and make a line in the sand for Scott to see.  Then, they hid out in the dunes and watched the shell to make sure that other beachcombers didn’t make the find of their lives.

Gentlemen, if you’re looking for a way to woo your Belle, take a page from Scott’s book—although you’ll never match him.

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