Sam was the king of the Maranatha House, you could tell, and no matter how heavy the suitcase or how ridiculous the pillow, Sam parked himself right in the doorway, right under your feet, to ensure that he got at least a moderate pat as you walked by. What a lovely place . . . .

The next morning, true to form, the owner of the Maranatha house served up a traditional Irish breakfast with but one deviation. We had no toast. NO TOAST! It was a rough morning, leaving the pretty, pretty house and with no toast to boot.

Woney and I lugged our ridiculous suitcases and my ridiculous pillow down the Barbie staircase, across Sam’s napping place in the middle of the doorway and loaded up our car. We noticed as we were leaving that the other patrons of the Maranatha house, mostly Americans, seemed to be having trouble with the narrow roads in Ireland like we were. Like our car, most of their rentals had some scratchy marks alongside the passenger door but unlike us, they had had some run ins with what appeared to be barbed wire. Big holes dotted their doors and trim pieces were missing left and right. It was with great pride in our (Woney’s) driving abilities that we drove off, ready for the sight-seeing we had planned.

This will not surprise you, but Katherine from the Mena House had given us some tips for this day as well. We were driving to Tralee to stay in a castle for the night (and let me add here: Castle, yay!). The Ring of Kerry is a scenic drive on the way to Tralee, well known for its gorgeous views but less known for its awful traffic and toothpick hairpin roads. Katherine instructed us to head for the Dingle Peninsula instead, claiming that it was a better, less harrowing drive with views that rivaled and even surpassed those across the Ring of Kerry. When I get to that point, I will most likely not write much. I will most likely just post a bunch of pictures. You’ll see why.

This also will not surprise you, but Woney and I got lost on our way to the Dingle Peninsula. On our way to getting lost, we ran across a sign that read: Toy Soldier Museum Ahead. We continued to run across signs for this museum every time Gwendolyn took us on the wrong path (bitch), and we ultimately decided that we needed to visit this Toy Soldier Museum. Plus we had to pee and they offered a bathroom on one of the signs. Y’all, this was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done/seen in my life. Woney and I wandered around this concrete building completely in awe, watching these people cast all those tiny metal figures you see in your traditional Toy Soldier Museums. We watched a lady hand paint some of them. We even made our own and while we were proud of them, our talents extended nowhere near theirs. Woney and I will never be master Toy Soldier Museum employees is what I’m saying. Man, that was fun.

Tralee 2

Hand-crafted Chess Set

Hand-crafted Chess Set

We got back on the road, on our way to getting lost again, and eventually found ourselves driving along the Dingle Peninsula. Breathtaking is not a word that even comes close to describing these views. Wait, here you are:

Dingle 41

Dingle 38

Dingle 32

Dingle 40

Dingle 17

Dingle 24

dingle 15

Dingle 22

Dingle 14

Dingle 11

Dingle 28

By the time we drove it all, Woney and I were completely saturated with beauty. We could not take in another sight. Every few feet boasted a scenic overlook and we stopped at every single one of them. There’s not a solitary hill crest or rock or ocean wave that is not documented at least three different ways on our cameras. Also, sheep.

Isn’t that gorgeous? By far, this was my favorite thing we had done. If you ever go, the West Coast is the area you want, I’m certain of it.

Our final destination for the night was the Ballyseede Castle. Getting lost was becoming an art form for us – we pulled an illegal u-turn more than once to get to this place, but again, as we drove down the long drive and the castle came into view, in our breath caught in our throats. It was beautiful. The interior was beautiful. Our bedroom was beautiful. The grounds were beautiful. The dinner was beautiful. We felt like we were somebody as we sat in the parlor after dinner reading our books and nibbling on excellent Butler’s chocolates, passing an evening in the way the royals do. It was such a lovely day. We went to bed that night, sighing over our good fortune.


Tralee 16

Tralee 8

Next Stop: Doolin!


Kilkenny was exactly the Ireland we wanted. That was what we went to do and see. It was absolutely perfect and I will go back . . . . .

Woney and I, having gotten squiffy the night before, enjoyed a restful slumber at the Mena House and then trooped downstairs for breakfast. Planning all our stays in Bed and Breakfasts was an excellent idea, I thought to myself. Katherine, the absolute most helpful person I have met to date, was also an excellent cook. She offered us the full Irish breakfast (with toast!) and while we turned up our noses at the blood sausage, we accepted the rest.

During our planning conversation the day before, Katherine insisted that we visit the Rock of Cashel. In all of our researching we had never heard of such a thing, but Woney and I are adventurous if nothing else, and Katherine had already proven herself knowledgeable. We said our good-byes and set off to see this lump of limestone that was something akin to the famous Giant Ball of Yarn, at least in my head.

You guys, I will probably say this a lot, but I’m telling you, if you get the chance to see the Rock of Cashel, go. From a distance, it’s a modest-looking stone building resembling a church in serious ill repair. Up close, that’s exactly what it is. The stonework, however, dates back to the 12th century in places, and the history there is incredibly rich. The Rock sits atop a hill overlooking some of the most gorgeous Irish scenery you’ll ever see. Grave markers surround the area, and stone walls are everywhere. It felt peaceful and more importantly, it felt chilly and foggy and still – exactly what we wanted. The moment we stepped out of the car, Woney and I looked at each other and said, “We need hoodies!”



View from Cashel

View from Cashel

I wish I were a better photographer. My pictures don’t do it justice.

When our tour was sadly complete, Woney and I set off for our next adventure, still talking about that Rock. We were looking forward to good things, though, as Blarney Castle was next. Item two on Woney’s bucket list was kissing the Blarney Stone, something that I had no interest in doing.

Blarney Castle

Blarney Castle

Also Blarney Castle

Also Blarney Castle

“So, you’ll kiss the Blarney Stone, won’t you” people asked me before I left the States.

“Naw,” I said. “The locals pee on that.” I was certain it was true.

“But, Jimmie,” Woney said, exasperated, “it’s the Blarney Stone. You can’t come to Ireland and not kiss the Blarney Stone!”

“Naw,” I reiterated. “It’s been urinated upon. I will pass.”

And pass I did, although I did take the hour or so to climb the four stories of spiral, stone, incredibly narrow and slippery stairs to get to the actual kissing point. That I Highly Recommend unless you are afraid of heights, afraid of close spaces or it’s raining. Blarney was a beautiful castle, and truly one of the most authentic ones we saw, but again, I will say that the heart of this city is the people. When you spend an hour in line with strangers climbing slightly treacherous stairs to put your lips on a rock upon which someone has peed, you are no longer strangers.

Kissing the Stone

Kissing the Stone

Woney did the deed after layering on several coats of lip goo to protect her lips from the urine, and I took pictures. Getting down the stairs was a much quicker and also much scarier process as we really had no one to block our fall if the stairs proved too slippery. We walked out of there content, though, and safe and ready for our next adventure. We also walked out of there slightly sweaty. The gloom and the chill had long vanished, replaced by the sun and its heat.

View from the Top of Blarney

View from the Top of Blarney

The Jameson Distillery was the third and last item on Woney’s bucket list and since we were close, off we drove. We made a slight unexpected detour in Cork and both promptly decided that we were not fans. If I never go back to Cork, I will be alright. Jameson is near Cork in Middleton which I’m sure is a lovely city, but this being probably the hardest driving day we had, we didn’t notice much about it. And being that Woney and I both took the Jameson Master Taster lesson, we didn’t much notice it when we left either. Kidding! I’m kidding! We only had three watered-down, very weak shots. Casey, again, that shot was for you. Cheers!

This tour was fun and I do Highly Recommend it. I also Highly Recommend shopping in the gift shop (hello, Dammit Todd). Jameson gifts are perfect for those friends that you missed purchasing chocolates for at Butler’s.

I Bought this for Dammit Todd, Not Really

I Bought this for Dammit Todd, Not Really

I alluded earlier to an unexpected drive through Cork. I wish I could allude to the multiple other unexpected drives through cities but honestly, Woney and I got lost so many times that day, I couldn’t even tell you where we were. On our way to the B & B for the night, the Maranatha House, we made such a number of wrong turns it bordered on ridiculous. Our GPS director, whom I shall call Gwendolyn, was beyond frustrated with us. “At the roundabout, take the third exit to somethingorother and continue straight for .7 kilometers” was a standard speech. Gwendolyn was kind of a bitch. She was relentless and had no idea where we were either.

We did make our way to the Maranatha House but not before we questioned our every step and turn. The more tractors we met on the road, the more remote we realized this house to be. Exhausted and frustrated, we finally arrived at the Maranatha sign. All of that exhaustion and frustration instantly disappeared as we rounded the bend and caught sight of the house. Oh, it was beautiful, inside and out! Every room was decorated like a fairy tale: swags of heavy velvet over the windows, swaths of gauze surrounding the beds, round mattresses with pink heart-shaped pillows. Woney and I were given a choice of the rooms and we ran back and forth across the hall, desperate to pick the best one. We settled on one finally and moved in for the night. I loved the excess of it, the pinkness of it and it wasn’t until I woke up out of a dead sleep that I realized what the house reminded me of – Barbie’s Dream House! Our hostess must have had her own fantasy as a child and was lucky enough to make it a reality. Perfect house for honeymooners and perfect area, too, as the only things of note in that area are the pretty bedrooms with the fancy beds, and everyone knows that’s all honeymooners care about anyway.

Woney's Bed

Woney’s Bed

My Bed

My Bed

One last mention about lovely things to see: Sam. Look at that face.

Sam.  A Good Dog.

Sam. A Good Dog.

Sam was the king of the Maranatha House, you could tell, and no matter how heavy the suitcase or how ridiculous the pillow, Sam parked himself right in the doorway, right under your feet, to ensure that he got at least a moderate pat as you walked by. What a lovely place . . . .

Next stop: Tralee!


. . . . . but after being awake for 40 hours, sweating like pigs right through our clothes, and walking a total of about 8 miles in one day, we were dunzos. Slept like babies.

We left Dublin the next morning after our first experience with the traditional Irish breakfast. My gosh, they offer you a lot of food in that breakfast: assorted fruit juices, coffee, tea, yogurt, a variety of cereals, fried eggs, sausage, bacon, blood sausage, mushrooms, tomatoes, fruit and toast. Toast! Man, I forgot how much I like toast. The last time I bought bread was 2008, I think, so I was particularly enamored of the toast.

We packed up our tiny little car and hit the road.

Let’s talk about the road and our car for a minute. We knew when renting our vehicle that we would get something tiny and something without an automatic transmission. Woney and I both were alright with that. We also knew that we had to maneuver the car on the opposite side of the road from the opposite side of the car. Woney and I both were alright with that as well (although in all fairness, I was doubly alright with that as she did all the driving and I only had to use the imaginary brake on the passenger side). What we did not realize was that while our car was roughly four feet wide, our lane on the road was only roughly four feet one inch wide. Those were the main roads. On the back roads, of which we took many, the road was merely six feet wide. We were ecstatic about that until we realized that the six-foot-wide road was intended to hold two lanes, for two cars. Also, Ireland doesn’t believe in shoulders per se, but more in giant walled structures and vicious shrubbery literally right next to the yellow line. Really, let’s just say there was no yellow line. It was four feet one inch of road per car and then wall. Or, you know, a 400 foot drop off into an abyss. Before the trip was done, I was intimately familiar will all the roadside shrubbery in Ireland.

So Woney and I took off for Kilkenny on those narrow roads. During that drive, I realized just how big America is. I can see it on paper, of course, but everything here is just enormous compared to so many other places in the world. Driving it really drove it home for me. (That was a terrible pun and completely unintentional.) Anyway, in short order we arrived in Kilkenny and found our Bed and Breakfast. Let me put in a kudos here for Mena House. It was utterly charming and the proprietor, Katherine, was the absolute most helpful person I have met to date. Without Katherine, we would have missed so many truly wonderful things on our trip. Highly Recommend Mena House.

Kilkenny 9

Katherine instructed us to walk into town, have a drink at the café on the river, visit the castle, and then make our way to two pubs. We did just that. The drink by the river was glorious. Woney and I took probably 40 pictures of the scenery around us. We could see the Kilkenny castle in the distance and I was pretty stoked about it. A castle! We have nothing that old in America. America was just getting started around the time those castles were getting broken in. We are babies over here. Anyway, we wandered through the little city and into the castle to discover that it was . . . neat. I guess that’s really all I can say about it other than to say it was little boring. They have renovated it only as far back as the Victorian era when a family lived in it so while parts of it felt really authentic, it was only authentic back to the 1800s. Still, it was a nice visit.

Kilkeny 25

The true heart of Kilkenny is in the people, though. That was the best part of this city. Based on Katherine’s suggestion, after the castle we walked straight to Kytelers for a tasty beverage. I already knew that Guinness was not for me so as we plopped down on the barstool, I said to Martin, our bartender, “I’ll have whatever cider you have”. And just like that I got a new tasty beverage. Yerm.

Kilkenny 38

Let’s talk about Martin for a moment. He was the exact sort of bartender for which we were looking, in the exact sort of pub for which we were looking. He was absolutely perfect. We spent the better part of the afternoon hanging out with him and Adam, who is only 19 and is going to school to learn how to create video games and who has promised to develop a character with giant hair and giant hoots and a tiny waist named Jimmie. I love Adam.

Kilkenny 28

Martin entertained us for hours. I’m not sorry to say that I was rather inebriated but even if I hadn’t been, I would have loved Martin. He filled all the water glasses with a hose and made fun of Irish country music. “No one ever writes a song about the bumper potato crop,” he said. I miss Martin. Highly Recommend Kytelers and Martin.



Eventually we wandered off to the next pub, promising a drink to Martin if he found us. Matt the Millers was the next stop and I enjoyed that pub just as much as Kytelers. “I’ll have a Bulmers,” I said expertly to Shane as I plopped on the barstool. Let’s talk about Shane. What a hottie he was! I took pictures of him cleaning stuff all night and promised him that if he came to America all my friends would find him highly attractive with that dish towel in his hand. Something about a man who cleans . . . . Highly Recommend Matt the Millers and Shane.

Kilkenny 21



By this point, Woney and I had had a lot to drink. A lot. I was feeling particularly fond of everyone in the entire city but after some time, it seemed that two men in particular were quite fond of us. This is Paul.

Woney and Paul

Woney and Paul

Isn’t he lovely? He and Woney spent hours chatting on the barstools and when we finally wandered off to find food, Paul escorted us safely. He took turns holding our hands, mostly because I kept stopping to talk to everyone. I loved those people just so much. I loved Paul. Paul loved Woney. I loved Woney. I loved Shane. I loved Martin. And Albert loved me.

Jimmie and Albert

Jimmie and Albert

Sigh. When Albert told me that I had a nice body and he would love to escort me home, Woney disengaged us from everyone and we meandered to Mena House.

Kilkenny 36

Kilkenny was exactly the Ireland we wanted. That was what we went to do and see. It was absolutely perfect and I will go back. I will also find Martin and Shane and treat them to a tasty beverage of their own. See you soon, boys!

Next stop: Blarney!


. . . . . After a long conversation she said, “Sigh. You sound just like Jessica Simpson. I love it.”

And that shut me up for the rest of the flight.


Eventually, Woney and I arrived in Dublin. I won’t give you the gritty details of that entire day because it was the longest day in the history of days. I will, however, tell you about all the stuff we did there because it was fun. Mostly.

Lunch – In an effort to attempt sleeping on the plane, I turned down every food offer the airline made. I missed the memo on the ridiculous amount of time it would take to get our bags, get our car, drive to the hotel and not check in, so by the time we were at a stopping point, I could have eaten a dead armadillo raw, still in its shell. We found a pub in short order and experienced our first culinary adventure in Ireland which consisted mostly of gravy. It was fantastic!

Dublin 2

The Guinness Brewery – This was one of three items on Woney’s bucket list. We were assured by the concierge at our hotel (into which we could not check in) that the brewery was just a few short blocks away. This assurance was false. We walked endlessly for blocks and blocks and were slightly lost in a foreign country (pay attention – this is called foreshadowing). We did find it, though, by asking directions more than once although I’m pretty sure Woney would have sniffed it out eventually. It was a fabulous tour. Six floors of beer history, production, games, etc., all housed in a giant pint glass structure. Woney and I opted for the Master Pour section of the tour and once Woney poured her Guinness, the instructor queried “Have you done this before?”

Woney said, “No, I just drink a lot of Guinness.”

Before I ever left the states, I promised a friend that I would drink a pint of Guinness in his honor. I truly meant it. And then I took a swig of Woney’s Guinness. Call me a Philistine but no thank you. Casey, that swig was your Guinness. I raised that toast to you. And then I called it done. Barf.

Dublin 4

Butler’s Chocolate Experience – This was not on our bucket list but man, this was fun. A few months ago as we were researching stuff to do in Ireland, we booked the tour for this one. It seemed interesting and you know . . . chocolate. It wasn’t until we were well into the tour that Woney and I realized we were two of only four adults, and that all the rest of the guests were children. Huh. The tour included a lot of samples, though, so we weren’t too upset about that.

Another part of the experience was the opportunity to decorate a piece of chocolate. I was expecting a delicate truffle with miniscule piping bags full of muted pastel icings – a “grown up” experience. Instead we got these:

Dublin 6

Woney and I and all the children donned our hair nets and lab coats and set to work, tongues poking out in concentration. After some concerted effort, my bear looked like this. I call her Wilhelmina.

Dublin 8

And this is Woney’s creation, Lulu. She’s a little slutty. We didn’t let the children get a look at her. Innocent eyes, you know.

Dublin 9

The Church Bar – This is a must see if you ever make it to Dublin. We asked one of our cabbies about a good local place we should visit for dinner, and this was his recommendation. It’s an old Catholic church turned into a bar, which feels slightly sacrilegious, but the food was traditional and delicious. Highly recommend.

Church Bar

Church Bar

Sweating – This was the unexpected portion of our trip. Woney and I were so proud of our full suitcases and the clothes that we packed. I was particularly fond of a new hoodie I recently acquired that I couldn’t wait to wear. It will be February before it’s chilly enough to wear it in Tennessee. Anyway, it was with some dismay that Woney and I received the news about the record high temperatures in Ireland. What compounded the dismay was learning that our hotel was booked at capacity for the night and while we would be allowed to check in, it would be much, much later. Please understand that we had sweated a whole lot in NYC and then we sweated on the plane for a good 8 hours. Furthermore, we sweated in Dublin doing all that walking and getting lost. We did all of that wearing the same set of clothes. I forgot to tell you this last time, but in our freak show rushing around trying to get a cab, my super cute maxi dress got caught up in the escalator stairs, nearly rendering me nude for the cab ride. I saved it, though, with only a few tears and grease stains which now permanently decorate the bottom hem of my dress. What I’m saying is, not only did I look slightly homeless, but I also probably smelled really bad.

We did eventually get checked into the hotel and took the most amazing showers of our lives. Plumbing in Ireland is a bit different than what we are used to, so getting the water to come on was a challenge. Electricity is also a bit different, so turning on the lights was also a challenge. We completely embarrassed ourselves by calling the front desk to ask how the lamps worked.

It was with great pleasure that Woney and I went to bed that night. I have a sneaking suspicion that the beds we utilized would be disgustingly uncomfortable had we had them any other night, but after being awake for 40 hours, sweating like pigs right through our clothes, and walking a total of about 8 miles in one day, we were dunzos. Slept like babies.

Dublin 16

Dublin 14

Next stop: Kilkenny!

I Will Never Be The Same Again

Dammit Todd and I went to the movies last week. I always have to go early so I can catch all the previews, the second best part of every movie.

During the previews there was a sudden flash of something on the screen. I couldn’t tell yet what it was but I knew it was huge because every estrogen-filled hormone in my body stood to rigid attention in an instant.

There was a second flash and with a thunderbolt it hit me. I sucked in a breath so hard that I ingested a piece of popcorn from the couple’s bucket in front of us. My ovaries flared into an explosion and then melted in a fiery blaze. I was irrevocably and helplessly disolved into a puddle of teenage longing.

I turned to Todd, my eyes huge, and stared beseechingly.

Already beaten and resigned to his fate, Dammit Todd sighed, “Fine, we’ll go.”

You guys, look what’s coming!


It’s going to a long, miserable, glorious wait!

Valentime’s Day, Or As I Affectionately Call It, Singles Awareness Day

Don’t you hate it when people call it that?  There is no M in Valentine.  Do you also hate it when people call it Singles Awareness Day? Tough, it’s my blog.

So I had a party for all my single friends on Singles Awareness Day.  We went to the bowling alley.  You should know that I am a terrible bowler.  Really awful.   I don’t know why I do this to myself.  You remember Thor?  He claims to be the worst bowler ever.  I say this with love – he’s pretty bad.  I have another friend who doesn’t see too well.  Her vision started to go when she was young yet she has adjusted beautifully.  She’s an okay bowler.  We had some new friends come to the party who tried their hardest to lay claim to the title “Crappiest Bowler Ever”, throwing gutter balls and missing pin after pin.  Y’all want to guess who got the lowest score in every game?  Want to know who was so spectacularly bad at the bowling that breaking a 40 was considered a fantastic accomplishment?  That is correct – yours truly.

One of the new friends whom I shall call Flash pulled me aside on the last two frames of the game to give me some coaching lessons.  “Jimmie,” Flash said, “how do you feel about me giving you some pointers so that maybe you can tie for last place instead of being dead last all by yourself . . . . again?” 

“Sure, why not.”  And so Flash coached me, enabling me to get a strike AND a spare and thus I tied for last place with a guy who fervently tried to convince us that he had never bowled before.  I am amazing.

Lest you think I am a total loser, I do have things at which I excel. 

For example, I am excellent at lecturing men on what constitutes a good Valentime’s Day gift.  Simply look at this post, which can be used for almost any gift-giving occasion in which women are to receive tokens of affection.  I used it with great success on a guy at work, whom I shall call Yao Ming (he is tall and I like standing next to him). 

“Yao Ming,” I said as I cornered him in the supply room, “what are you doing for your wife for Valentime’s Day?  You have planned ahead, correct?”

“Uh . . . .” said Yao Ming.  “I usually do pretty well on ValentiNe’s Day.  I’ll get balloons or flowers or something.”   

“Well, you better giddy on it, Yao Ming.  I do not want any of my friends in the dog house because of a lame Valentime’s Day gift.  I once knew a girl, my sister-in-law actually, whose boyfriend gave her a set of free weights and the advice that she could use lose a few pounds.  She was a rail already but either way, that boyfriend spent a lot of time recovering from that snafu and I do not want the same fate for you.  I like you too much for that, Yao Ming.” And then Yao Ming made some excuse about all the work he had to do and fled to the other side of the hall. 

I used this same argument successfully with the postman, the UPS man, and the Fed Ex guy.  I am very popular. 

Another example of things I do well:  I am excellent at playing with other people’s children in bowling alleys.   I know this because after coming back from a routine visit to the restroom I found a small child hanging out in our lane.  He was a tiny little black boy with the cutest curly Mohawk you’ve ever seen.  He was less than two and had the sweetest eyelashes.  His elbow was propped on one of our chairs and he watched our game intently, probably fascinated by the wildly spinning colorful balls that flew all over the lanes.  Ooh, I snatched him up immediately, cooing “Hi, muffin. What’s your name?”

He looked at me with giant eyes and then turned his attention back to the out-of-control game we were playing.  He leaned against me, completely content.  Oh, I could have held him all night.  After a few minutes, though, I could see the realization dawn on his family that they were missing a kid.  I held him up to show I had him, that he was safe and while they rushed over to rescue him from the wild woman who bowled as if she had a muscle deficiency, they were very kind in letting me get a hug from him before taking him safely to his own lane.  We bonded, though, because he waved good-bye to me as he left.  He was my Valentime. 

I also have other assorted skills like layering on glitter eyeliner in thick, even lines; backcombing my hair into a giant poof; matching my socks to every occasion and outfit (up to and including Christmas, Easter, Birthdays, Equestrian holidays, Dog holidays, and Valentime’s Day); asking Boss for gifts that he never sends; and making friends easily.  You know why I make friends easily?  It’s because I never throw people under the bus by telling stories on them when they are crappy bowlers (Thor) or when they get super excited about the nerdy Tupperware gift they received for Valentime’s Day (Yao Ming). 

This is a pretty impressive list, don’t you agree?  Y’all want to hang out with me this weekend?  We should go bowling.

Boy Loves Girl – A Story For Your Heart

There’s a little dollar store I stop in on my way home sometimes to pick up the occasional grocery item.  They don’t carry a lot of things but they have the basics.  They also carry seasonal items, and last week when I stopped to get some necessities, I swung through the Valentine’s aisle to check it out. 

As I was admiring the chocolates, cards, and stuffed animals, a woman walked down the aisle with her two boys.  Initially I didn’t pay a lot of attention to them.  I took my quick glances at the sweet stuff and then moved on to get the items on my list.  I then did a quick walk through of the store, just to see if I “needed” anything else and finally found a check-out line to stand in. 

In the check-out line was a Valentine’s balloon nearly the size of my car.  It was a monstrosity.  The mother and her two boys walked up to stand in line behind me and the youngest boy was instantly captivated by that balloon.  I heard him breathe in sharply and ask, “Mom, do you think she would like this?”

“Well, you already have chocolates and the dog for her.  That’s enough money for today,” she replied.

“But Mom, this would really work.  I just know it.  I’ll pay for it.  I’ll wash dishes,” he pleaded.  Let me clarify.  He was not whining.  He was asking.

“Don’t you think it’s a little big,” she asked.  “It’s probably expensive.”

“I love her, Mom. It has to work.”  I could hear the emotion in his throat. 

Her heart melted.  I felt it.  I turned to look back at him, to get a closer peek.  This boy was maybe nine or ten.  He had red curly hair with red-blonde eyelashes and a million freckles.  He was earnest and sincere and he had the sweetest little eyes.  He also had a stuffed dog under his arm and a heart-shaped box of chocolates with a picture of a guitar on it. 

He saw me looking and explained without my asking, “It’s for my girlfriend.  Well, she was my girlfriend and then I heard at recess that she’s going out with another guy and I have to get her back.  The dog I picked out because it’s colorful, like her, and the guitar I picked out because I like music and I want her to think of me.  Do you think she would like the balloon, too?” 

“I think everything you picked out is just perfect.  I think you chose really well,” I said.  “She must be very special.”

“She is,” he said simply.  “I love her.”  It was all he needed to say. 

They bought the balloon.  I watched them stuff the Valentine gifts in the car and I heard him telling his mom how many nights he would wash the dishes.  I hope that little girl is worth his heart because she sure has it, hook, line and sinker. 


Happy Valentine’s Day!  I wrote a love story last year, too.  If you haven’t read it, you should.  It’s my favorite one. 

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