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Looking for a Southern Belle
by Ted Garon

~~~~~~~~~~
"Bashful, shy, modest and humble male
seeks compassionate creature who creates
chocolate chip cookies so scrumptious
they'd keep a wandering husband home
doing the dishes and the laundry right
after he mows the lawn. She must be
intelligent and have a delicious sense
of humor."

~~~~~~~~~~


There were seven responses to my ad.

I'd run the ad because my girl friend (yeah, a Yankee gal with pretensions) broke off our relationship. She said I was an insensitive clod. I decided the next girl friend must be a Southern belle. A real Southern belle can turn a guy inside-out and he thinks she's done him a favor.

The first response was a little careless. Someone ripped my ad from the paper and in a margin wrote, "Send this guy the bless you and I-need-false-teeth letter," and pinned the ad to their form letter.

One or two more replies were touching, but not for me. You know, all capital lettering, hard-penciled and missing a few letters here and there, on ruled paper, like what kids use in the third grade.

Then THE letter was there, and I was a goner.

It was sweet and tender and warm and modest. And simple.

She even included a little photo of herself. I've never been good at describing people, but believe me, a guy could happily drown in those blue eyes. Cheeks, chin, dimples, oh my! And a smile that would melt your heart.

It melted mine.

I sat down and wrote a letter to her. She'd said her name was Sue Ellen. Then in parenthesis she'd written, "or just Susie." Magnolia blossoms! Southern fried chicken. Sunday lunch with the family right after church. Pecan pie and apple pie and apple pan dowdy. Strawberry shortcake.

A football game on the TV, and Dad asleep, snoring gently.

You want me to cut to the chase. Okay, okay. Susie and I wrote back and forth for a week. Two weeks. Then she suggested that we meet. I couldn't eat, I couldn't sleep. I wanted to hold her and make her feel all protected and joyous. Her letters had that New Orleans kind of subdued but tantalizing excitement to them.

We met. Hallelujah! She brought her Aunt Rita Lou to be her chaperone. What a wonderful, old-fashioned girl. Even Rita Lou was a prize-winner herself, and when it was time to say good night, Aunt Rita Lou always had to leave us for a few minutes to take care of something.

By the third night, I had smoke curling from my ears. Susie shyly admitted that I had the same effect on her. She asked if I could get a friendly druggist to sell me one of those compounds that she could use to zonk out Rita Lou, something that would help her (Susie) get all relaxed.

No, I didn't. But I saw a TV listing on Public Broadcasting for an Icelandic document dubbed in Greek, all about re-connecting the warring factions of a family. It sounded as if it might cause a recovering insomniac to have a relapse.

I talked it up--oh, did I do a selling job. Susie listened as if I were about to announce names of the lottery winners.

We tuned in. Our chaperone lasted five minutes, then yawned and vanished to her room. I turned to Susie and held up my arms so I could pull her towards me.

But she was crying.

I was stunned. Why was she sad and upset? I practically had to force her to tell me what was wrong.

Her family was a typical, hardworking bunch of good down home Americans. Then Grandma (Aunt Rita Lou's mother, and my Susie’s grandmother) had been turned down by her insurance company for an expensive operation.

The family sold their four-year-old car, they pawned some family jewelry that had been handed down ever since the War Between the States. A buyer got an outrageous deal for the stamp collection started way back when. They raised all but $2,621 needed for Granny's surgery. Even then, the insurance people were hard-hearted and said no.

Sue Ellen said she was going back home in the morning. She could get a job at the drug store, she'd live at home, and every penny she earned would go into the surgery fund.

I tell you, I was so proud of that gal. That's the spirit that made America great.

Then Susie bawled even louder, her tears washing down those gorgeous cheeks. I said to her, "You're not going anywhere except to the altar with me!"

I took out my wallet and extracted a pretty good chunk of cash and handed it to her. She tried to resist, but I'm too strong for that. Then I took out my checkbook and I wrote a check for three thousand dollars.

She was speechless with joy. But she finally had a bit more gumption and told me the check was for too much money.

I just laughed. “No,” I said, “there are always unexpected things that cost money.”

Susie kissed me with such passion that I thought the fillings in my teeth were going to melt.

Then, this wonderful creature, my bride-to-be, the light of my life, told me she was scared to death.

Why?

Because, she said and she was so embarrassed, she didn't want to wait for a preacher to say the magic words, she wanted us to--

Just then Aunt Rita Lou came into the room. She said that all that crying had awakened her. Susie ran over to her aunt and whispered in her ear.

Aunt Rita Lou gave a little yelp of joy, and she gave me a kiss on the lips that almost rang my smoke alarm. She said, "You beautiful people! We have to celebrate. I have exactly what we need--just wait right there."

In a split second she'd gone and returned with a bottle that looked like Michelangelo designed it for a pope. We poured and sipped and poured and sipped and before we knew it, the bottle was empty and we were higher than Cloud Nine.

I don't remember getting to my bed. I woke up late the next morning, on top of the bed, fully dressed except for my shoes. My mouth was a big-time drought.

Somehow I got to the bathroom sink and stuck my head as far as I could under the faucet.

Then I went to see if Susie needed help. She wasn't there. Aunt Rita Lou wasn't there. Their clothes weren't there.

Oh, oh.

I phoned my bank. The check had been cashed. They let me talk to the cashier and she remembered Susie. Would you believe? Sue Ellen, or whatever her name really was, was from Chicago. At least the license said that. The cashier had written down information from the driver's license, but the Chicago police told me it was a fake.

Well, darn. My next classified ad will be to sell a dog house.

But here’s what really burns me up--I never got to taste any of her chocolate chip cookies.

Damn Yankee!

____________________________________________


Ted Garon says he is a Southerner (born in South Duluth, Minnesota). His first overseas tour during WWII army service was south of the Equator on Ascension Island (later he served on Okinawa). He lives in South Orange County in Southern California. He believes that Southern Fried Chicken can cure humanity of its ailments. (He distrusts grits.)

Ted is a widower now after 48 years of marriage to a Southern Californian. He has one son, a grown and good guy who pleads with Dad to "spend my inheritance." Dad complies and does a fair amount of world travel.

He writes. Even got to make a pitch in person to a movie studio for his screen play. They didn't buy (jealousy is shameful). He is teaching himself how to cook (he thinks he is almost as smart as a typical housewife).

When he was an actively contributing member of society he earned a pittance in advertising, publishing, and technical stuff in the printing industry. His present fortunes come from saving Blue Chip stamps when he was much younger.

Ye Editor said this is his chance for free advertising. He is hopeful that he will attract lovely ladies who will help him to overcome his shy, bashful, humble and modest persona (see accompanying story). Ladies should be intelligent and they will need a good sense of humor. They must be in his general age bracket (he is in a holding pattern at the high end of middle age, and will remain there for at least another twenty years).

Ted has encouraged Ye Editor to run this bio full-length and in BIG type. After all, she is one of the Great People in his life, and he is absolutely shameless when he thinks flattery will work.

Please allow for delays in replies. He may be standing in line with everyone else at an airport.

Friendly letters are encouraged. Write tedgaron@tedgaron.com.


_________________________


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