Out From Under the Umbrella

playing in the rain

Southern Hospitality…From a Brit


*Part 6 in The Tour Guide Series.  You can read Part 5 here.

We crashed when we got in from the three or four hour drive from Atlanta.  I hadn’t made any plans for us the for next day because I knew The Tour Guide would need recovery time from the long flight and subsequent drive.  We both slept late and when we got up he asked, “How do I make coffee?”  “Don’t worry about that I’ll make it”, I said.  “No, I want to know how to make coffee.  Just show me how to do it.”  So I stood back, told him what to do, and he made coffee – in a coffee maker, which he’d never done.  He’d only ever boiled water in a kettle and made instant coffee.  The Tour Guide makes excellent coffee.  He made it every morning for the rest of the visit, complete right down to my cup.  It was waiting for me every morning when I got up.  🙂

The only plan I’d made for us for the day was to get some groceries, rent a couple of movies and relax together.  While this was a holiday for The Tour Guide, it was a trip with a purpose.  We were getting to know each other, so we spent the whole day together – just the two of us.  Hehe…I showed him the true American experience.  I took him to Super Wal-Mart for groceries.  We went kind of early so the crazies weren’t out just yet.   We had a lovely day together and he learned an appreciation for Chick-fil-A sandwiches.
It’s interesting seeing the territory where you grew up through the eyes of someone who’s never seen it.  It was all new to The Tour Guide.   So many things fade into the backdrop when you see it every day.  The Tour Guide was amazed at the number of billboard signs.  Those aren’t allowed in England.  He wanted to drive, so I climbed into the passengers seat and attempted to give him instructions.  Those amounted to: everything’s the opposite of what you’re used to.  I’m not a good driving instructor. 😦  I kept forgetting to tell him what to do at intersections and traffic lights. 

I’d made arrangements ahead of time for a couple of outings.  Karen and Thomas have a boat so they took us out on the river at a nearby state park.  Karen, Thomas and I have all been there a number of times, having grown up in this area, so we’re familiar with the surroundings. When we arrived we all got out, chatted for a few minutes and then Thomas was ready to put the boat in the water.  He asked the tour guide to help out and just as he was about to wade into the water The Tour Guide noticed the sign right next to the boat ramp.  “Beware of Alligators.”  He turned to look at Karen and me, his eyes as big as saucers, and said, “Wait a minute. No body told me anything about any flippin’ alligators!”   Then he waded right on into the water and helped Thomas put the boat in.  Then it wouldn’t crank.  He and Thomas worked with the engine a bit and in a few minutes Thomas had it running.  We cruised around the river just chatting and enjoying the nice, sunny day.  And The Tour Guide got to see some rather large alligators sunning on the bank of the river.

My friends, Tessa and Danny, took us out to eat at a really nice place that night and the next day we all went on a day trip down to St. George Island.  We had drinks and lunch on the deck at the Blue Parrot, watched the dolphins swim in the ocean, sunned on the beach for a while, and window shopped in downtown Apalachicola.  That two hour drive back seemed like an eternity.  We all started to think somebody had picked our hometown up and moved it somewhere else.  It was a long, fun, tiring, enjoyable day and The Tour Guide instantly had some new friends stateside.  He fit right in with them.  Well, except for the fact that Tessa needs a translator for The Tour Guide’s accent.  Every time he says something, she looks at me and says, “What’d he say?”

The Tour Guide had never held a gun before.  Thomas took us down to their homemade range and taught him how to shoot.  We had a blast with that!  Then we shot bows and arrows and played poker all afternoon.  Karen and Thomas have a little boy, Evan.  He was two at the time and he absolutely loved The Tour Guide.  Even now he asks me if he can talk to The Tour Guide. 

We went to church on Sunday and spent a lot of time just enjoying each other’s presence.  We even hosted a dinner party together.  We made salad, homemade lasagne and garlic bread.  Karen, Thomas and Ethan and Danny and Tessa all came for dinner.  Then Thomas treated us all to some venison.  I think that may have been The Tour Guide’s favorite.

You know that movie, Jerry Maguire?  The part where Dorothy says, “Shut up. Just shut up…..You had me at hello. You had me at hello.”?  Nice cliche, don’t you think?  On the second day The Tour Guide was here he needed to iron something.  We’d already joked about whether I even owned an iron because at some point during one of our many conversations I’d told him half-jokingly I didn’t wear anything the dryer couldn’t iron.  I was only half joking.  Anyway, I offered to iron whatever it was and he insisted on doing it himself.  I set up the ironing board for him and gave him the iron and went on about my business doing something else.  Then he emerged from the other room, looked longingly into my eyes, and said, “Hun, do you need anything ironed?”  He had me.  He had me at do you need anything ironed.  

One thing was certain.  The week was far too short.  We had a fabulous time and we were never going to be ready for him to go home.  The morning he flew back to England Karen brought Evan over to say goodbye and after she left we quietly got ready for the three hour trek back to Atlanta.  Embracing each other on my back porch he said, “This would be far easier if we’d fought all week long.”  I responded, “This would be far easier if we’d fought at all.”  I don’t think either one of us expected it to feel so right to be together.  When we got to the airport he checked his luggage and we went back outside. We hugged, we kissed and then he said, “Now go, just go ahead and go.”  So I walked away.  We didn’t say goodbye.  I kept looking back and The Tour Guide was still standing in the same spot.  Every time I looked back he’d wave and then motion for me to keep going.  He watched me walk away until I disappeared into the darkness of the parking deck and he could no longer see me.  I turned around for one last look, and he was gone.

3 thoughts on “Southern Hospitality…From a Brit

  1. this is quite a cool story. international relationships have their own particular crazinesses and joys. I'm dating internationally too me in the UK and my partner in Germany. Not quite as far as UK/USA though. the parting/saying good bye at railway station/ airport etc. is always surreal…


  2. LOL! My wife has the same philosophy about ironing. It cracks me up. :-)Sounds like the start of a beautiful relationship!


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