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October 18, 2006

Ya'll think I make this stuff up, but I have the photos to prove it.

There's a lot happening here right now, so I won't be writing regularly this week. I thought this might be a good time for a story, seeing as it's long (as my stories do tend to be) and ya'll can have time to get some coffee, pull up a chair, wade through it in three or eleven days.

I got to thinking about this story the other night as I was making a proclamation to my mom that the next time I meet a man who I like, even remotely, I hereby do declare I will not ever enter his phone number into the Laurie Historical Record, a.k.a., my cellular phone address book.

Because I am superstitious.

You see, every date-type man I have added to my cellphone has either disappeared, turned into a scary stalker or confessed his secret kid/prison record/porn addiction/etc. So, I figure a man will only remain stable and kind so long as his telephone number is not saved inside my pink portable telephone.

Don't judge. I come by it honestly. Southern people are notoriously superstitious, it's right in there in the water alongside the fluoride (of which, by the way, my great-grandmother was VERY superstitious.) Each family has its own aversions and "particulars." I think this is because we're very tuned-in to the more colorful and also, crazy, world. For example, there is not one single Southern citizen who does not:

A) have a story about a house they once lived in that was haunted, or
B) know someone who had a haunted house, or
C) have a friend/relation/paramour who can tell a story about this acquaintance of theirs who had a haunted house

Superstition is merely the harbinger of colorful. I went to college in the Deep South and I don't know if things have changed much, I assume they have what with me being old and wine-drenched reminiscent and so forth, but back in the day Southern college life was just odd, from another era, where you went to school and joined a social organization and had lavish formal events that made no sense in the context of general student-level poverty.

But anyway, that is how I met Dandy Don G.

Don was just FUNNY. He wasn't traditionally goodlooking but he had so much charisma it was like an electric field all around him that just made you wonder what he'd do next. He was president of the student body association and pledge chairman of Kappa Alpha fraternity. Everyone would gather outside the KA house for drankin' and carrying on while some sodden upperclassman went on and on about how General Robert E. Lee had founded KA, then the whole brotherhood set off cannons in a drunken frenzy each pledge week.

But long before the cannons went off, all anyone could talk about was Old South Week. It was an Event.

Securing a date to Old South Week was a social coup for all freshman girls, me included. If you could snag a KA and prance around in a hoopskirt and so on and so forth, you would then be ushered into some fictional world wherein ... what? college guys didn't barf after beer bongs? Lord, we were conflicted. Steeped in tradition and muddled by pop culture.

Anyhow, Old South Week came and my date was one larger-than-life Don G. I had no hoopskirted dress and no money to buy one, so I borrowed my sorority sister's Spring Belle dress from two seasons prior. Unfortunately, her family ran to pink-skinned brunettes, and I am a blonde with an olive underone. Peach is not my color. I looked like an oddly pale self-tanner victim in a monstrosity of taffeta proportions.


Then again, no one noticed the sallow jaundice nature of my skin because of these:


Yes, those are my ginormous eyebrows. Thank the good Lord and the Shriner's that I discovered tweezing by junior year. Amen.

We weren't dating, me and Dandy Don, but we formed a friendship based largely on the fact that I thought he was a hoot 'n a holler, and I myself could be a handful on occassion, and he didn't seem to notice my rather large, hairy eyebrows.

Once we were suitably attired -- him in a Civil War uniform and me in the borrowed hoopskirted peach monstrosity -- we drank hunch punch and posed for formal pictures with a horse and a cannon and God tell me again why I went to college? You'd think we were stuck in 1865 Savannah for all the sense we had. Posing with a cannon in a FREAKING HOOPSKIRT. In 90% humidity and with a blood alcohol level of 85% hunch punch. (In retrospect, that last bit maybe explains it.)

It was a week of revelry and carrying on unknown to me before or since. There were parties every night in which young men wore either togas or battle dress from Appomatix. The week ended with a huge shindig in Chattanooga, where Dandy Don introduced me to a cocktail known as the RedHot (cinnamon schnapps with three dashes of Tabasco) (HELP ME JEEZUS) and then he proceeded to jump into the swimming pool from the third-floor balcony of our hotel room. No necks were broken and a good time was had by all.

Midway on our driving trip back from Chatanooga, however, I insisted that me and my Southern Gentleman Date and our carload of friends stop off in Columbus, Mississippi to visit my folks. I mean, ya'll! It was on the way. And my daddy is the best cook in three states. And we all had powerful acidic hangovers and Julie had to get out and upchuck every three miles anyway. What's a detour of an hour or two?

So that is how my folks met Dandy Don, and he was all polite and southern charm and genteel manners. Julie puked in the guest bathroom ("I do apologize sir for the inconvenience," Don said to my father. "We believe Jules may have the stomach flu. It's been going around." Then: "Thank you, sir, this brisket is amazing!")

We left and drove back to school and the excitement of Old South week was over for another year. My folks were real happy to have met my college friends. They did not even mention Julie's mystery flu.

A short while later, my parents opened their mailbox to find a framed picture of me and Dandy Don posed by a Civil War cannon in our Old South Best along with this newspaper article:


Yes, my Old South date had gone and robbed the First Farmers & Planters Bank, Jesse James style. The FBI said he was a real gentleman when they arrested him. A southern gentleman.

And ya'll wonder why I am superstitious about my dates. You wonder why I have, over a lifetime of oddities that some may assume are embellished for storytelling but are indeed true, developed proclamations and declarations and peculiar little superstitions to ward off impending doom.

It is because doom is always trying to impend. It may be funny doom, and make a great story, but it will not now or in the future be saved in my little cellular phone book directory.

I mean, really.

Posted by laurie at October 18, 2006 1:23 PM