Category Archives: Southern living

We Had A Plan

But, “Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans.” Allen Saunders

On Thursday, June 8, our choir headed to Charlotte, North Carolina, to sing the National Anthem at the minor league baseball game between the Charlotte Knights and the Louisville Bats. Since we’d already sung “The Star-Spangled Banner” at one of their games last year, we thought we were familiar with the routine: ride the bus, get off and stand in line at the stadium, wait for a half hour, follow a Knights’ representative down multitudes of hallways, go out through the visitors’ dugout, sing the anthem, find our seats, and enjoy the game.
SBC choir2

We were wrong. Nothing went according to plan. We loaded up the buses and took off on time, but the closer we got to Charlotte, the worse the traffic was. Consequently, we were about half an hour behind our projected arrival time.  Our worship leader was on his phone with his contact, and a police escort was waiting to take us past the fully stopped lines of cars at the stadium. A team representative met us as our busses stopped in the intersection, and she led us around the crowd and into a side door. At that point, we weren’t walking; we were jogging.

We were waived past security and taken directly to the visitors’ dugout, where we were led onto the field. Almost immediately we began to sing, and I must say, it well very well.
SBC Choir
Afterward, people met us to scan our tickets and take us into the stadium seating areas.

About half an hour in, the dark storm cloud that had hovered over the field opened up, and the heavens poured. After only a couple of innings, the field was covered with a tarp, and we decided to go back to Lancaster.
SBC Choir1
I’m glad we went. I’m always happy to gather with my choir friends and sing the National Anthem, and it was fun to be on the Big Board.

And since a ballgame was rained out, I think we can now declare it’s officially summer in the South.

Have a blast, y’all! Batter up!

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Southern Fried Austen

Easy

Lizzy came out of the dressing room in her competition swimsuit and took her stance in front of Darcy and Georgia. When the Darcys began to applaud, it caught Jane’s and Charlie’s attention. They hot-footed it over to watch.

Jane: Lawd, Lizzy! You look so fine you’re makin’ my liver quiver and my bladder splatter.

Georgia: My goodness! I’m sorry you’re sick. There’s a bathroom in the back.

Lizzy: She’s fine, Georgie. She’s just surprised that the swimsuit is so flatterin’. I think it might be the color. How’d you come up with this color for me? I’ve never even thought of wearin’ orange. Daddy wouldn’t like it.Easy as pie

Jane: Charlie told me that Georgie picked out all your clothes to complement your skin tone and hair color.  Was it hard to do, Georgie?

Georgia: Not at all. Lizzy has an exotic look with that olive skin and dark, curly hair. I put her in island colors.

Lizzy: I guess since fashion is your thing, it’s a bird’s nest on the ground.

Georgia: Huh?

Darcy: It was easy for you since it wasn’t your first rodeo.

Georgia: I’ve never been to a rodeo.

Charlie: But you have picked out clothes. This wasn’t the first time you’d ever done it.

Lizzy: I thought you were born in Georgia and grew up here in South Carolina.

Easy as falling off a log

Georgia: That’s right, but I boarded at a private high school in northern Virginia and then majored in fashion design at a college in New York.

Lizzy: How did you end up back here in South Carolina?

Georgia: I missed my family, and I wanted to come home.  Daddy built me a studio, so I’m developing my own line. “Georgie Girl.”  Several New York houses are very interested in my designs.

Darcy: Georgie is considerin’ workin’ here at CW’s as a fashion consultant.

Georgia: The more time I spend with Lizzy and Jane, the more I want to work with them. Can I choose my clientele?

Darcy: Certainly, if that’s what you want to do. We can leave your business cards at the register, and girls who want your services can contact you directly. You’re welcome to meet them here to help them choose clothes. We’ll pay you a commission on what you sell from CW’s, and you can set your own fee with your clients. I’ll help you set up a consulting business.

Lizzy: That was as easy as fallin’ off a log.

Charlie: A piece of cake.

Jane: Georgie could do that with her eyes shut.

Georgia: It’s a snap for me. A breeze. A cinch.

Darcy: Like takin’ candy from a baby.

Easy as 1 2 3

Lizzy: Have you ever taken candy from a baby?

Darcy: Can’t say as I have.

Lizzy: I tried it out when Lydia was a toddler. Not easy. But she was a five pound Robin.

Darcy: Huh?

Georgie: Huh?

Jane: She was pleasingly plump.

Fat as

Lizzy: (snorting) She was more than plump. Until she turned fifteen and lost fifty pounds, bein’ cremated was her last hope for a smokin’ hot body. She and Little Debbie were on a first-name basis. You know why Little Debbie’s face is on the box but not her body?

Little Debbie

Darcy: No, but I’m sure it’ll be fascinatin’. Go for it.

Lizzy: It was the only part of her that would fit in that little space.

Georgie: You two are precious. I’m taking notes.

Darcy: There’ll be a test later, but you won’t have to study. After all, this isn’t rocket science. Lovin’ Lizzy is easy.

Lizzy: Lovin’ you is the easiest thing I’ve ever done. You can take that to the bank.

Georgie: Huh?

Darcy: If it isn’t true, the good Lord’s a possum.

Lizzy: Honey, I’m so lucky, if I sat on a fence, the birds would feed me.

Georgie: Well, this is scary. I’m starting to understand Southern.

Lizzy: That’s no hill for a stepper.

Georgie: I take it back.

Southern Fried Austen

Don’t worry.

Lizzy kept on trying on clothes, and Darcy kept on encouraging her by talking about how good she looked. While she was in the dressing room, he called his sister Georgia to come help him. Georgia had been hoping he would call, and she was at CW’s within a few minutes.

Lizzy: What do you think about this evening gown? I’m not sure about the neckline.

Darcy: It’s perfect for you.

Georgia: (walking in) I agree.

Lizzy: Georgia! I’m happy as a pig in slop that you’re here. Your brother likes everything I put on. I can’t tell if he’s just sayin’ it to be nice or if the outfits really look good.

Georgia: I picked out every piece of clothing you have with you specifically in mind. Of course it’s all wonderful.  How could you doubt me? Why are you worried?

Lizzy: I’ve just never had so much attention focused on how I look. I’ve always just done the best I could do and let the rough end drag.

Let the rough end drag

Georgia: Huh?

Darcy: She’s never worried about her appearance before. This is all new for her.

Georgia: Well, I’m just goin’ to have to teach you then, Lizzy.

Lizzy: Can’t you just pick stuff out for me? I’m worried I won’t get it right.

Georgia: My mama says that worrying is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you anywhere.

Lizzy: Mine says that if you fill your head with worries, there won’t be room for anything else. That’s one of the reasons I never worried about what I wore. If I liked it, that was good enough. I was more interested in keepin’ my grades high and workin’ after school. I had to have scholarship money.

Darcy: We don’t really want to change you into something you’re not. Georgie and I hope you’ll like what we choose for you, and you’ll see the pattern. She can talk to you about colors, shapes, and fabrics. This is her thing. She’s good at it.

Georgia: Ha! I don’t expect you to be as good at fashion as I am. I love it. You don’t. But you’re smart. You can learn to recognize what looks good on you and what doesn’t.

Worrying

Lizzy: I’ve always had to shop on a budget. I bet these clothes cost a fortune. I’d never have looked at them because of the price tag.

Darcy: In CW’s, you are not to look at price tags. Whatever looks good on you is yours, if you like it. We’ll never insist that you wear something you don’t like.

Georgia: Well, I might push just a little. It’s my thing, you know.

Lizzy: Easy for you to say. You’re rich as homemade butter.

Darcy: The only thing money gives me is the freedom from worrying about money. It’s not the answer to every problem.

Lizzy: But won’t people get the wrong idea about me if I wear something cut this low?

Darcy: That’s not low. Nothing is showin’ that wouldn’t show in a modest swimsuit. You’re walkin’ around with an umbrella, just waitin’ for it to rain, sugar. Hang those worries out to dry.

Lizzy: You promise I don’t look like a hoochie mama?

Darcy: You’re my girl. I don’t want anyone lookin’ at you that way. Trust me?

Lizzy: I trust you more than anyone not named “Bennet,” and more than most people who are.

Georgia: Worry is a misuse of imagination. I’m going to teach you to think of clothes in a new way. Imagine yourself in this swimsuit, for instance.

Lizzy: I thought you liked me, Georgie. You know I can’t wear that. My thunder thighs will be on speakin’ terms with each other.

Darcy: I’ve seen your legs in shorts and skirts. You’re beautiful. No, you’re not a toothpick, but you’re not heavy either. All this worrying is pointless. A day of worry is more tiring than a week of work. It’s like worrying about a spider. He’s smaller than you.

Lizzy: Yeah. So is a hand grenade.

Georgia: The gown is a yes. Go try on the swimsuit.

Lizzy: Is Caroline gone?

Darcy: No, she isn’t, but it doesn’t matter. Stop worryin’ about the potholes in the road and enjoy the journey. Caroline will be in all the same pageants you’re in. She’ll see all these clothes eventually.

Lizzy: I think I can do that if I use my imagination.

Georgia: Now, you’re talkin’. What are you imaginin’?

Lizzy: That Caroline is a pothole.

Darcy: Good job. Worryin’ is about as effective as tryin’ to solve an algebraic equation with bubble gum. If Caroline is a pothole, what are you?

Lizzy: I’m asphalt.

Darcy: You crack me up. Why are you asphalt?

Lizzy: Asphalt is stronger than potholes. It’s used to build roads and fill in the potholes and cracks.

Darcy: If Caroline’s a pothole and you’re asphalt, what am I?

Lizzy: That’s easy. You’re the lines down the middle of the road and on the sides.

Darcy: I’ll bite. Why am I the lines?

Lizzy: Because you keep me centered and stop me from running off in the wrong direction.

Darcy: I like it. Without the road, there’d be no lines. Without the asphalt, I’d just be paint with nowhere to go.

Georgia: Too deep for me. Go put on the swimsuit, Lizzy.

Lizzy: Yes, ma’am. (leaves)

Georgia: Are you two always like that?

Darcy: Pretty much.

Georgia: Adorable. Oh, no. Here comes Caroline.

Lizzy: Well, what do you think?

Caroline: You can’t seriously be considering walking in front of people in that swimsuit. Your hiney looks like two gophers fightin’ in a gunny sack.

Lizzy: Well, it will take a while to lose that mental picture. You’re probably right, Caroline. I’ll just mosey on back into the dressin’ room now and change into some jeans.

Georgia: Caroline, you are evil, and you must be destroyed.

Evil

Caroline: Why? I was just tellin’ the gospel truth.

Darcy: Now, Georgie. You can’t blame Caroline for pickin’ at Lizzy. It’s been my experience that some girls always cut down the girl they’re the most jealous of.

Caroline: That’s not true. I’m not jealous of her. I’m just in a bad mood because you and Charlie didn’t let me have first choice of the clothes.

Darcy: You’ve been in a bad mood since the day you were born. You’ve done enough damage today. I think you need to go now.

Caroline: Fine. I don’t like this store anyway, and I’ll tell all my friends. (flounces off and slams door)

Georgia: Both of them?

Darcy: No big loss. I doubt her buds would shop at a consignment store.

Lizzy: Is she gone?

Georgia: Yep. Why?

Lizzy: I’m going to show you my swimsuit walk.

Darcy: Really? I thought you’d want to quit.

Lizzy: My courage rises with every attempt to intimidate me. I’m sick to death of her jabs. The best revenge will be to beat her, and I intend to do it. She just got my back up.

Courage

Darcy: That’s my Lizzy. Caroline didn’t know who she was messin’ with.

Lizzy: Like my mama says, “Smile. It increases your face value.”

Georgia: Mine says, “Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly goes clean to the bone.”

Lizzy: Yep. You can’t make chicken salad without some chicken poo.

Darcy: Very pithy. Now let’s see that walk.

smile

Lizzy: Because you’re mine, I’ll walk the line.

Darcy: I love that you make me laugh.

Lizzy: Then I’ll never stop doing it.

 

Southern Fried Austen

Bumfuzzled

Lizzy had just put on a new outfit and come out of the dressing room when Caroline Bingley strutted into the store with a full head of steam, loaded for bear.

Caroline: Charlie! You’re so low you’d steal the nickels off a dead man’s eyes. Why didn’t you tell me the store was open? You must be completely bumfuzzled. You know I wanted first choice of everything, and it’s your store, so I should get it. I’m your sister. Lizzy and Jane aren’t related to you.

Charlie: Tie the tent down. Here comes the wind storm. Caroline, we aren’t open yet.

Caroline: Hey! I like that dress Lizzy’s wearing. Who picked it out for her? I know she didn’t choose that herself. She looks almost pretty in it. Lizzy, take it off. I want to try it on. Red’s one of my colors – not yours. It makes you look like a streetwalker, while I would look elegant in it.

Lost and Confused Signpost

Definitely bumfuzzled.

Lizzy: You can have it, Caroline. I don’t really care. You’re right that I didn’t pick it out.

Caroline: I knew it. Who did? Jane?

Darcy: Georgie and I selected it for Lizzy, and it’s hers. I think she’s stunning in it. She and Jane get first choice of everything. You can come in tomorrow.

Caroline: I heard Charlie owns this store as much as you do.

Charlie: No, Caroline. I don’t. Darcy owns sixty percent, and I own forty. Even if we were equal partners, I wouldn’t overrule him for you.

Caroline: It’s not good to put your girlfriend before your family. Wait ’til I tell Daddy you’ve got more loyalty to your girlfriend than you do to your sister.

Charlie: Go ahead and tell him. Jane and Lizzy aren’t just our girlfriends. They’re the store managers. Employees get first pick of everything.

Caroline: You never gave me a chance to work here. That isn’t fair.

Charlie: You’ve never held a job for more than a few weeks. Uncooked meat has a longer shelf life than you do. We needed people who were dependable and well-liked to manage the place. You fuss with near ‘bout everybody, and your buddies wouldn’t buy clothes in a consignment shop. The girls who will come here won’t want someone waitin’ on them who turns up her nose at everyone who isn’t rich. You must be bumfuzzled to think they would.

Caroline: You’re so dumb you couldn’t find your hiney with a flashlight in each hand. I have an army of friends, and they’ll follow me wherever I go. If I shop at CW’s, they will, too. You must’ve forgot I was prom queen twice in high school. Everybody likes me. If I say the clothes in this store are tacky, they won’t shop here. Your stupid little store will go out of business.

Lizzy: She has a point. Just let her have the dress. There are plenty more in here.

Darcy: That’s your dress, but I’m sure Caroline can find something she likes. Bingley, I don’t care if your sister chooses some clothes today. If she wears them around town and tells people where she got them, it will help our business.

Jane: I agree. I don’t want any hard feelings between us. I can’t enjoy my new clothes if Caroline is unhappy about my having them.

Lizzy: I could, but I’d rather have her working with me than against me.

Caroline: Well, Charlie?

Charlie: It gripes me that you always get your dadgum way. I’m bumfuzzled as to why y’all want to give in to her, but I won’t stand in the way if you’re all in favor of it. Fine! Pick out a dress, Caroline.

Caroline: Do I get a family discount?

Charlie: It’s a consignment store, for cryin’ out loud. The prices are already lower than the lowest settin’ of a limbo stick.

Darcy: I don’t object to a ten percent discount. Georgie can have the same deal.

Charlie: This is ridiculous! If you give in to her, it never stops. She always wants more.

Caroline: Ten percent off, or I walk and take all my friends with me.

Charlie: I think I’ve lost one too many balls in the high weeds, but if it’ll make you leave faster, you can have the discount. We’ll give the same deal to Lydia, Kitty, and Mary.

Caroline: Why? They aren’t related to you or Darcy.

Darcy: No, but they’re related to the store managers. I’m beginnin’ to see Charlie’s point. It’s never enough, is it? You not only want the discount, you also want to say who can and can’t have it. It’s not up to you. If you can’t take what’s offered without tryin’ to control everything, you can go somewhere else.

Charlie: Yep. She’d start a fight at the drop of a hat, and she’d drop it herself. She’s meaner than a skillet full of rattlesnakes. She’s a playground bully.

Caroline: Just shut your ten-gallon mouth. I want to shop in peace. Jane, honey, can you help me?

Charlie: Janie’s pickin’ out clothes for herself. You don’t need help.

Caroline: ‘Course I do. Somebody needs to hold what I pick out so I can keep shoppin’.

Charlie: Your arms aren’t broke. Hold your own stuff.

Darcy: You’re not emptyin’ out the store before it opens, Caroline.  Just choose a couple of things and try them on.

Caroline: Will you stay around so I can model them for you like Lizzy’s doin’? I’d like a man’s opinion.

Darcy: I’ll stay out here to see how Lizzy looks. If you come out at the same time, I guess I’ll see you, too.

(Caroline walks away to pick out clothes.)

Lizzy: I’d rather not try on clothes in front of Caroline. She enjoys this stuff, but I don’t. She’s right. I just look ridiculous.

Darcy: There’re more dressing rooms on the other side of the store. Let me help you get your clothes, and we’ll go over there. Charlie can give her “a man’s opinion.”

Lizzy: You’re my favorite weakness. Lead the way.

Darcy: (smiling) You must be the square root of two, because I feel irrational around you.

Lizzy: Your name must be Waldo, ‘cause someone like you is hard to find.

Darcy: Is your name Wi-Fi? I’m feelin’ a connection.

chocolate cake

Lizzy: I love that you look at me like I look at chocolate cake.

Darcy: Did we just share electrons? I’m feelin’ a covalent bond between us.

Lizzy: You breathe oxygen? We have so much in common.

Darcy: You must live in a cornfield. I’m stalkin’ you.

Lizzy: With guns like yours, who needs a phaser?

Darcy: If you were fruit, you’d be a fineapple.

Lizzy: Are you a ninety degree angle? ‘Cause you’re lookin’ right!

Darcy: I want to be the reason you look down at your phone and smile – just before you walk into a pole. Then, I want to be your emergency contact person.

Lizzy: Do you believe in love at first sight? Or should I walk by again?

Darcy: Always walk by again. I’m callin’ this a tie.

Lizzy: I love that shirt. You know what it’s made of?

Darcy: Polyester?

Lizzy: No. Boyfriend material.

 

 

 

 

Southern Fried Austen

Crazy

After Lizzy finished her evening gown walking session with Penny Clay, she, Darcy, and Jane met Charlie at the consignment shop. Charlie was grinning, pointing at the sign.

Charlie: How do you like it, ladies?

Lizzy: Wow! This place is huge. You bought the closed up Harris Teeter? I like that. Buy an abandoned building instead of building a new one. One less empty store front. That’s the name of the store? CW’s?

Darcy: Charlie wanted to be a partner in this venture. “C” for Charlie and “W” for Will.

Jane: I like it. Sounds sophisticated instead of stupid.

Lizzy: You mean like Diva Duds? Cute does get old fast. It tries too hard. CW’s sounds classy. I like the sign, too. It’s not flashing neon, begging for business. It conveys, “We have the clothes you always wished you could afford at reasonable prices.” It’s an invitation, not a sledge hammer.

Darcy: This store is another reason you ladies should quit your summer jobs. It’s going to take a good bit of your time to be co-managers. First things first, though. Before we hire staff and open for business, you need to come in and choose what you like. You both need gowns, interview clothes, talent outfits, and competition swimsuits with the accessories. You’ll also need to be well-dressed while you work here. Givin’ you the right clothes will promote the image of the store, so it’s good business.

Lizzy: There must be a light or two burned out on your string if you’re going to just give us clothes, sugar. You’ll never make any money that way.

Darcy: We’ve already discussed this. I want you two ladies in the pageants, and I’m goin’ to pay whatever your costs are.

Lizzy: Yeah, but you’re crazy as a bullbat. What do you think, Charlie? You’re part owner. This is coming out of your pocket, too.

Crazy meds

Charlie: I agree with Darcy. We can’t expect you two to quit your jobs, run this store, and win pageants without the proper clothes, and you have to dress the part in here and around town. You’re walking advertisements now for CW’s. Time to lose the baggy jeans and Walmart tops, Lizzy.

Lizzy: Why don’t you tell me how you really feel? You got a big hole in your screen door. Jane, you ready to take free clothes from your boyfriend? Makes me feel kind of cheap.

Jane: I hear you cluckin’, but I can’t find your nest. We’ve already talked about this. It’s part of the incentive package. We work for Darcy. It’s part of what he pays us.

Lizzy: We work for Charlie, too, apparently. He’s your boyfriend. You willin’ to take clothes from him?

Jane: The guys talked, and Charlie filled me in last night. I know Wickham mistreated Darcy’s sister in some way, and I know you’re an undercover reporter entering the pageants to see if they’re fixed. We’re all four in this together now. Think of these clothes as part of a uniform. We work for the guys, and our uniforms are part of the deal.

Lizzy: It seems everybody’s lost their vertical hold except me, but I’ll go along with it. I’ll join FCU. Lead the way.

Darcy: FCU?

Lizzy: Free Clothes University.

Darcy: You’re crazy as a loon, but I love you anyway. Let’s go in and get out of the heat. I think my nose just melted and it’s drippin’ on my shirt.

Lizzy: Wow! It looks great in here. I thought we were goin’ to help set it all up.

Crazy loon

Charlie: Since Darcy found out yesterday the clothes were comin’ in today, we had workmen in all afternoon and last night to patch the walls and paint. The racks were delivered and set up this mornin’, so I had a few guys come with me as soon as I ate breakfast, and we hung everything up. You’ll probably need to organize it better. Divide it into sizes or somethin’. Caroline would’ve helped, but I didn’t tell her about it. You ladies get first choice. If I’d let her come, half the store would be empty now.

Lizzy: She’ll be mad when she finds out you and Darcy own this place, but you gave Janie and me first choice. You probably already noticed you’re sister’s crazy as a coconut.

Charlie: Yep. She’s crazy as a pet coon under a red wagon, and she’ll be madder than a piano player in a marchin’ band, but she’ll get over it. She already has so many clothes Daddy had to make the room next to hers a walk-in closet, and even then she wanted more room for her shoes. Why does anybody need so many pairs of shoes?

Darcy: Back off that ledge. I have a good many shoes myself.

Lizzy: I’ve noticed you haven’t worn the same pair twice around me. I thought you might be one brick shy of a load where shoes are concerned. Guess I was right. Doesn’t bother me, though. There are far worse things to be obsessed with.

Crazy cocnut

Darcy: About your shoes … We really need to do somethin’ about what you have on your feet.

Lizzy: What’s wrong with my shoes?

Darcy: Nothin’ – if you plan to work in the garden.

Lizzy: You’re about two sandwiches short of a picnic, honey. I bought these shoes only two years ago. They’re just now broke in good.

Darcy: You’re crazy as Larrabee’s calf. Those shoes are so old, when they were new, rainbows were in black and white. The Dead Sea was just getting sick then. And that brand isn’t good for your feet.

Lizzy: You’re such a snob sometimes. Your shoes cost more than I make in a week. I had a choice between wearin’ fancy, brand name shoes, or payin’ rent and eatin’. It’s obvious that I chose to eat.

Jane: Enough. I wondered why we had several racks of brand new athletic shoes in that back corner.  In fact, all the shoes look new. Guess I know why now. Come on, Charlie. Let’s go look at the evening gowns. It’s about to hit the fan, and I want to be out of range.

Charlie: Good idea. All this fussin’ makes me jumpy as spit on a hot skillet.

Darcy: You can wear used dresses, but you can’t wear used shoes. That’s just disgusting, and worn out shoes are bad for your feet. I had my PA get someone to find the shoes at wholesale prices, and I bought in bulk. Pageant contestants need workout shoes and exercise clothes. Everything in here is necessary for girls in pageants.

Lizzy: I think I understand now. You have a shoe fetish. And this rack of designer jeans?  And those high-end, name brand tops?

Darcy: You have to look good when you arrive to compete.

Lizzy: I think you’ve introduced “Build Lizzy’s Wardrobe” by stealth here. You’re plumb crazy, sugar. You got too many cobwebs in your attic.

Darcy: I admit I want you to dress well. You deserve it.

Lizzy: I deserve it? Or you deserve it? Are you ashamed of me?

Darcy: Do I act like I’m ashamed of you? You must be overdrawn at the memory bank. I’ve taken you everywhere I’ve gone, and I’ve told you you’re beautiful over and over. I’ve introduced you to my family, and I’ve told you I love you. This is not normal behavior for me, Lizzy. I’ve never loved any other girl the way I love you, and I want the best for you. How can I walk around in the clothes and shoes I have and not share my wealth with you? I feel like the biggest jerk in the world.

Lizzy: Don’t you like the way I am?

Darcy: I love the way you are. I just want to dress up the outside a little. I’d never change the inside. That’s what makes you special. Clothing is just outside wrapping. The real gift is inside.

Lizzy: I’m curious to know what you’d like to wrap me in. Come pick out an outfit for me so I can see what you have in mind.

Darcy: Really? You’d let me do that?

Lizzy: It seems to be important to you, and I love you, even if you are crazy as all get out. But know this upfront: I won’t wear anything I don’t like.

Darcy: I wouldn’t expect you to, love. That would be very unLizzylike. I want to keep you the way you are, just in better shoes and clothes. I, uh, already put together a few outfits – just in case. Georgie helped me get everything together. It’s all laid out in the dressing room with the pink door.

Lizzy: (Opens door) So, you think I’ll look good in these clothes?

Darcy: Yep. I imagined how you would look. Men are very visual you know.

Lizzy: I’m beginning to get the picture. I’ll be out in a minute. Stay right there.

Darcy: Jane! Bingley! Come over here and give your opinion. Lizzy’s tryin’ on clothes.

Lizzy: (Through the door) Everything fits. How’d you know my size?

Darcy: Georgie met you at the cookout. Remember? She has a good eye for anything to do with fashion. She helped with colors, too.

Lizzy: Hmm… She’s good at this. Ready? Here I come. (Throws open door and walks out) Will? Will? Say something. Don’t you like it?

Darcy: (Staring) I thought I had a good idea how you’d look when I saw you in yoga pants and a T shirt. I mean, at least the yoga pants showed more of your shape than the baggy jeans did, but the huge T shirt really hid you. I truly had no clue my girlfriend was such a knockout.

Jane: He’s right. You’re gorgeous. Maybe I should get Georgie to help me, too. She could be a fashion consultant in the store if she has time.

Bingley: Sounds like a plan. What do you think, Darcy?

Darcy: I’ll ask her. Why don’t you two go look at the front windows and see what you think we could do to draw interest? I ordered some mannequins. We need a few good ideas on what to do with them. Where’re you goin’, Lizzy?

Lizzy: I was goin’ to help them.

Crazy family

Darcy: No.

Lizzy: No? Why not?

Darcy: I want to see another outfit.

Lizzy: Is that my boyfriend talkin’, or is it my boss?

Darcy: Which answer will get me what I want?

Lizzy: You know, down South we love our crazy family members. We don’t hide ‘em away. We parade ‘em out in front of everybody. Proves how much we love ‘em.

Darcy: I’m missin’ the point. There is a point, isn’t there?

Crazy for you

Lizzy: Relationships are everything to us. The closer you are to family, the better.

Darcy: Then I’m guessin’ “boyfriend” is the correct answer. Your boyfriend wants to see you in those stunning outfits his sister put together for you. Family all around.

Lizzy: See? That was easy. You just have to know how to ask, and then I’m sugar in your hand.

Darcy: Can I have a kiss before you go change again?

Lizzy: Of course. I’m crazy about you.

Darcy: That’s my favorite kind of crazy.

Lizzy: You ain’t right.

 

 

 

Southern Fried Austen

Dumb as …

After lunch, Darcy drove Lizzy and Jane back to Crowns R Us. Before they went into the building, he got a satchel from his trunk. Lizzy watched him and whispered to him as they walked down the hallway to the mirrored room.

Lizzy: What’s in the bag?

Darcy: You’ll see. Curiosity killed the cat.

Curiosity cat

Lizzy: Who’s cat?

Darcy: It’s a proverb from Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.

Lizzy: Cats have nine lives. I guess we could call Wickham Curious George. He always seems to land on his feet.

Darcy: Huh? I’m not followin’ your logic. What does any of that have to do with curiosity?

Lizzy: Nothin’. I was talkin’ about cats, and then I thought about “curious.” Wickham’s name is George, and that led to Curious George. He’s a monkey. I got one for Christmas when I was little.

Darcy: Are you on ADHD meds?

Lizzy: What’s that supposed to mean? You don’t like the way my mind works?

Darcy: You’re so thin-skinned, it’s just barely enough to keep you from bleedin’ to death. That’s a joke. You know I love the way your mind works. Conversing with you is always fun. You’d drive a statue crazy. (Darcy opens the door.)

Lizzy: I knew it was a joke. It’s been around since Jesus was a baby. You must think I’m dumber than a fence post. Thanks for holding the door for me, darlin’.

Darcy: What do you think, Jane? Doesn’t she drive you crazier than a bedbug when she jumps from one topic to another?

Jane: I don’t have a dog in this fight, so don’t bring me into it. I have to live with her, and my mama didn’t raise an idiot.

Lizzy: We’ll continue this conversation when one of us isn’t loaded up on “I graduated from Harvard” soup.

Darcy: What’s that supposed to mean?

Lizzy: You’re actin’ like I’m so dumb I think Cheerios are donut seeds.

Darcy: That’s dumber than a barrel of spit and about half as useful.

Mrs. Young: Mz Clay is ready for you now. You can go on back.

Jane: Thank you kindly.

(Jane, Lizzy, and Darcy walk down the hallway.)

Lizzy: So, you think I’m few bubbles off plumb.

Darcy: No. I think what you said about me was uncalled for. I don’t think I’m smarter than you are, and I’ve never acted like I think that.

Lizzy: You knew what “a few bubbles off plumb” meant?

Darcy: My dad loves to build things, and when I was growin’ up, I helped him. He used a carpenter’s leveler all the time. He’d never so much as hang a picture on the wall without it.

Lizzy: Now I feel dumb as a cabbage.

Darcy: My grandma’s cat had her kittens in the oven when I was little. That didn’t make them muffins. You aren’t dumb. Now, go in there and knock Mz Clay dead. (Darcy opens the door.) I’ll be right back.

Lizzy:  Where’re you goin’?

Darcy: I have to drop the Browns off at the Super Bowl.

Lizzy: (laughing) But you promised you’d be with me during these consultations.

Darcy: You got that joke? I’ll be so fast, you won’t have time to miss me.

Lizzy: Of course, I got that joke. This is the South. Girls down here know their football.

Mz Clay: Come right in, ladies. Hel-lo, handsome. And who might you be?

Lizzy: He might be Will Darcy, but he’s better known as my boyfriend. I’m Lizzy Bennet, and this is my sister Jane.

(Darcy leaves.)

Mz Clay: Oh, I see. My name’s Penelope, but you can call me Penny. Let’s get right to work then. Where’s he goin’?

Lizzy: He’ll be right back. He’s gone to the Oval office.

Penny: The Oval office?

Lizzy: (singing) To da dump! To da dump! To da dump, dump, dump!

Jane: He’s seated on the throne of the tiny town of Toilet.

Penny: Oh! He went to the bathroom!

Lizzy: Yes, if you want to be crude. Can we just get started with the coachin’ and discuss my boyfriend’s personal habits later? I mean, you’re coachin’ us, not him.

Penny: Certainly. Who’s first? You, Lizzy? Or do you need some time to think up other ways to insert the words “my boyfriend” into the conversation?

Lizzy: Boy, when you got nothin’ to say, you just go ahead and say it.

Penny: A bit of free advice – don’t use that attitude in your interview or pageant questions. Come on, Jane. You must be a saint to put up with her. Bless your heart.

(Darcy walks back in and sits on the couch with Lizzy.)

Jane: It’s mighty kind of you to bless my heart, but I don’t need your blessin’ if you think you can talk about my sister to me. She’s just very direct. In her mind, it saves problems later. You were lookin’ at her boyfriend like you were starvin’ and he was the only steak for miles around, and she staked a claim. I’d do the same if you acted that way with my Charlie. But, you know what? Go ahead and try to flirt with Darcy. I have an idea he can take care of it himself. You wouldn’t be the first woman who threw herself at him. He loves Lizzy so much, he’d drink her bath water.

Darcy: (Puts his arm around Lizzy and whispers in her ear.) I go to the bathroom for a few minutes, and you girls establish battle lines. Should I check out back for a pod? I’m pretty sure some alien took over your sister’s body.

Lizzy: That coach is a bad Penny, and I have a feelin’ she’s goin’ to keep turnin’ up like one.

(Darcy unpacks and sets up his gear, and then stands beside it. Lizzy joins him.)

Penny: What’s all that?

Darcy: I’d like to take video and stills of the session, if it’s okay with you. I want to document Lizzy’s and Jane’s way through the entire pageant process. It should be good, especially since neither of them has ever entered a pageant before.

Penny: It’s okay with me, honey.

Darcy: Then, if you don’t mind, would you sign these papers for me? I need your legal permission to use this footage later, if I decide to put together a presentation of any sort.

Penny: I don’t mind at all, darlin’. Just hand it here, along with a pen.

Lizzy: (under her breath) If she bats her false eyelashes any faster we can cut off the air conditioner and use her for a fan.

Penny: There you go, sugar. Can I help you with anything else? Anything at all?

Lizzy: (muttering) Back off, Barbie, or I’ll snatch you bald.

Darcy: No, Penny. I think that’s all I need. Lizzy takes good care of me, but thanks for offering. If I need help, she can handle it.

Katherine Webb

Here is a good example of a swimsuit pose in an evening gown.

 

Penny: Here’s my card. Call me any time, sweetie. Now, Jane, show me your walk. Nice, but we need to work on those turns and poses. This isn’t the same as swimsuit walkin’, precious. Let me remind you what’s good for swimsuit. You shift on your feet with your hands high on your hips, accentuating your waist and torso by turning your upper body. Elbows behind you. Head straight up – not forward. Stop in a T stance, like this. Think of your shoulders and head touching a wall behind you. Walk with one foot in front of the other to make you look slimmer and curvier. Present your hip to the judges, like this. If your left side is toward the judges, pop your left leg. Reverse that when your right side is to the judges. Stop with one foot perpendicular to the other, like this. Bend the knee facing the judges a little and point that toe. Your arms should be held at a 45 degree angle from your body. Swing, but don’t flail, your arms. When you leave the stage, take two steps toward the judges. Then make a half circle when you leave. Swimsuit is projecting that you’re having fun. It’s a little freer than the other walks. Lift your head with a big smile. Swimsuit is all about personality. It’s faster. Use a little laugh. I’m stressing little. Use that little laugh once in swimsuit and once in gown. When you hit your mark, smile, but before you leave the stage, smile big. It needs to grow. Show that you’re confident. Relax.

Gown stance

Proper gown stance

 

The walk is a bit different in a gown. They’re looking for a queen. Don’t forget that. You are presenting yourself as their representative for the next year. Everything is done with purpose, but very slowly. You must look like you know what you’re doing. Put your hands further down, and drop your hands when you walk. Let them swing just a little. Be loose, but hold those shoulders back. Don’t slump. Posture is very important in both walks, but in gown, you can’t leave your feet shoulder-width apart like that when you pose. Keep moving. Think of fluid flowing across the floor. Lengthen your legs in a controlled walk. Don’t stiffen your arms, but use smaller movements. When you hit your mark, bring one hand to your hip at the same time you put your toe in front. It’s all one movement. Keep one hand on your hip when you turn. And step and turn. Gracefully. Head up. Remember your posture. Let the dress flow around you. Fully extend your legs, heel touches the floor first, then toe, heel – toe.  Turn your head as you walk, not your torso, and watch the judges. You’re in the zone. Keep eye contact with the judges. Look into each judge’s eyes at least once, and hold them. Smile! Not too big at first. Relax your mouth when you turn around. Smile again when they can see your face, but it must look natural. Be sure to put petroleum jelly on your teeth so your mouth won’t dry out. If it does, your lips will stick to your teeth. You can’t smile with a dry mouth. Cotton mouths are for snakes and Lizzys – er, lizards.

Lizzy: (whispering) Did she just call me a snake? The last time I saw a mouth as big as hers, it had a hook in it.

Darcy: You listened to all that jabber, and that’s all you got out of it? She’s going to grease your teeth, and you’re worried about her calling you names?

Lizzy: You must think I’m dumb as a coal bucket. I heard every word she said, and I’ll rock that walk. I’m already a queen. I don’t care what she calls me, as long as you call me and don’t call her.

Darcy: I’m young, but I wasn’t born yesterday. I’m not dumb enough to trade a diamond for paste. Haven’t you figured it out yet? I love you.

Lizzy: I love you, too. Why’d you tell me here when you can’t kiss me in public?

Darcy: I can kiss you anytime and anywhere I want.

Lizzy: Oh, my!

Penny: (clearing her throat) Lizzy, I hate to break up this special moment, but I’m ready for you.

Darcy: Penny, right now I’m wishin’ and hopin’ you don’t get anything for Christmas. (muttering) Her voice would chip paint.

Lizzy: (Giggling and whispering in his ear) Now, Darcy. Be nice to the girl. You just licked the red off her candy.

Darcy: I’d rather unclog a toilet with my bare hands than put my mouth near anything of hers. What’re you doing with that paper and pen?

Lizzy: I’m making you another list.

Darcy: Hold on, Penny! She’ll be there in a minute!

 

Southern Fried Austen

Full as …

 

When Darcy, Lizzy, and Jane left Crowns R Us, it was time for lunch. They had just enough time to eat before heading back for an afternoon appointment with the evening gown walking coach. Darcy walked Lizzy and Jane out to his car. When they were all seated, and Darcy had the bought air running, he turned to the two of them.

Darcy: Where would you ladies like to eat?

Lizzy: I brought a sandwich.

Jane: Me, too.

Darcy: I didn’t, so humor me. I don’t want to eat alone.

Lizzy: I’m broke as Uncle J. P.’s front tooth. I had to cut my hours at work for all this pageant stuff. I’m poor as a church mouse.

Jane: Same here. We can just order iced tea and eat our sandwiches with you.

Darcy: That won’t do. I talked you girls into bein’ in the pageant. The least I can do is replace the money you’re losin’ by not workin’ as much. View my help like an expense account. I’ll pay for whatever you need, and right now, you need lunch.

Lizzy: I don’t like spongin’ off my boyfriend.

Jane: And I don’t like spongin’ off my sister’s boyfriend.

Darcy: Y’all aren’t spongin’ off me. You and Jane work for me, and this is part of the incentive package.

Lizzy: We’re broke as the Ten Commandments, so I guess I shouldn’t be too proud to let you buy us lunch. I caught Jane searchin’ for shrapnel this morning.

Darcy: Huh?

Jane: I was checkin’ under the couch cushions, lookin’ for loot.

Darcy: I have more money than I know what to do with. From now on, you two are on salary. I’ll get the paperwork to you tonight. You’ll have to quit your jobs and devote full-time to the pageants if you expect to win.

Jane: I can’t quit teachin’.  I need my benefits.

Darcy: Just quit your summer job for now. If you win locally and have to get ready for a state pageant, you may have to rethink teachin’, because if you win on a state level, you’ll have to take a year off for nationals. Don’t worry about money or benefits. My company provides a very generous retirement plan and great health insurance. Now where do you want to eat?

Lizzy: You have more money than sense, but I agree we can’t keep workin’ all the time if we’re goin’ to be serious about the pageants. I’m ready to eat. My belly button’s scratchin’ my backbone.

Darcy: What’s good around here?

Lizzy: Not much of what’s good is on my nutritional plan. Just pull over by the side of the road and we can eat some grass.

Darcy: Does that sign really say Bantam Chef?

Jane: Yep. Keep on drivin’. KFC has grilled chicken and green beans. We can have that.

Darcy: Jane, you sound about as excited as a convict in a confessional booth.

Bantem Chef

Jane: I’m as excited as a kid on the last day of school. Really. I love grilled chicken and green beans – every day of the week for every meal.

Lizzy: I can’t eat another green bean, Janie. Please don’t make me. Last night I dreamed a big ole green bean was chasing me, mutterin’ somethin’ about payin’ me back for eatin’ all of her friends and relations.

Darcy: I’m not takin’ y’all to KFC. Sounds like the colonel has been spendin’ more time with Lizzy than I have, and I’m a jealous man. I’d like to go to a little restaurant that has a great salad bar at lunch. Have you ever eaten at Louisa’s?

Lizzy: Is that a new place?

Darcy: I think it opened a month or so after I moved back here. Bingley’s older sister graduated from culinary school, and she wanted to introduce healthier food to the area. She’s the manager. According to Charlie, it’s a good thing, because she needs a substantial paycheck. Her husband doesn’t have a job.

Lizzy: I smell a smooth talkin’ rat. You own that restaurant, don’t you?

Darcy: There wasn’t a single place in town where I could buy a variety of fresh salads. Louisa is a great chef, but she didn’t have the money to finance a restaurant herself, and I’ve known her since dirt was new. It’s a good investment. There’s not anything like it in a fifty mile radius. With pageant fever takin’ over the county, healthy food will be in demand.

Lizzy: Well, aren’t you slicker than cut okra in the sink? Always tryin’ to hide stuff from me. I guess that’s a, “Yes, it’s my restaurant.” Just say it. Time to own up.

Darcy: It’s my mother’s fault. I wasn’t like this until I was born. So, yes, it’s my restaurant. You’re goin’ to love it.

Lizzy: As long as I don’t have to eat grilled chicken and green beans.

Darcy: I’m goin’ to have a grilled chicken salad, but you could get a lean meat burger on whole wheat – all organic, gluten free, antibiotic free, no GMOs, all natural. Louisa’s menu is varied. BBQ chicken salad, harvest cobb salad, bacon and avocado macaroni salad, California quinoa salad, Asian-style Cobb salad, Greek salad with lemon vinaigrette, quinoa fruit salad, taco salad, kale salad, Asian quinoa salad, shrimp cobb salad, and several others. You can also make your own or order it to your specifications.

Jane: That’s varied? I’m sensing a theme.

Lizzy: What in heaven’s name is quinoa? Somethin’ else to graze on? Just tie my reins to the porch railin’ and strap a feed bag on my face.

Darcy: It was originally grown by the Andes Indians. Now it’s a money-makin’ crop in California. Quinoa can be used in the place of rice. Quinoa cakes, quinoa entrees, and quinoa snacks are healthier. You should try it.

Lizzy: Baby steps, Darcy. Baby steps. I have to walk on salad before I can run on quinoa. Are we almost there? I’m hungrier than a ninth puppy when I’d rather be full as a tick on a hound dog.

Full as a tick

Darcy: Well, that’s an image I won’t lose quickly. Here we are. Try to keep an open mind.

Lizzy: My mind’s so open, my brains are fallin’ out.

Jane: Looks nice on the outside. Charlie told me Louisa runs a restaurant. I’ll be glad to see her again. I haven’t seen her since the cookout at the Bingley’s house, and that must have been before you opened this place. She and her husband live close to Charlie’s parents, and she brought salads to the cookout to go with the burgers. Louisa’s a great cook, and she’s persnickety about pretty much everything, so the food should be good.

Darcy: That’s the spirit. It’s usually crowded, so I texted Louisa and told her to hold my favorite table. Walk right in, ladies.

Lizzy: Nice view of a used car lot. Lends a certain ambience. At night, you can turn on the car headlights.

Darcy: I plan to do somethin’ about that soon. If this place keeps havin’ so many customers, we’ll need to expand, and the guy who owns that car lot is willin’ to move for the right price. We need to start stayin’ open for all three meals, too.

Lizzy: It’s almost like you know what you’re doin’.

Jane: This restaurant is busier than a one-armed paperhanger. You’re close to revitalizin’ downtown.

Lizzy: Close only counts with horse shoes and hand grenades. This is better than close. My boyfriend is gettin’ ’er done. Is that Harriet comin’ yonder, waitin’ on tables? What’s she doin’ back in Sugarfield? I thought she lived in Atlanta.

Darcy: She did, but I found out that her husband lost his job when the mill shut down. I contacted her and offered them both jobs. Robert Martin is smart. He works in my home office now, and Louisa hired Harriet to waitress here. People love her, and she’s glad to be back home. Her mama watches her kids while she works. I think she has the potential to be the assistant manager after she learns the business.

Lizzy: You’re the sweetest man I know. I owe you one for helping my friend.

Darcy: One what?

Lizzy: Kiss, backrub, foot rub – I’ll make you a list to choose from. I’m so crazy about you, I’ll let you order for me. No quinoa.

Darcy: I’ll order a small bowl of quinoa so you and Jane can try it if you want to. I promise you’ll love the food here. You’ll be full as a shark at a shipwreck.

Lizzy: Graphic but good. I want to be full to bustin’.

Darcy: Get to work on that list pronto.

Lizzy: I’ll write it right now on a napkin. You can think about it while you’re with us at Crowns R Us this afternoon. We’ll be learnin’ evening gown walkin’ for your entertainment. Surely it must be similar to swimsuit walkin’.

Darcy: While you’re talkin’, you’re not writin’ the list.

Lizzy: Keep your shirt on. I’m multi-talented and ambidextrous. I can talk and write at the same time I’m singin’ a song and cookin’ dinner.

Jane: You lie like a dog, Sis. You have an attention span like one, too. Squirrel!

Lizzy: Let me be. I’m fixin’ to finish writin’ my list.

Darcy: Don’t rush on my account. I want at least ten choices, so make it good – not fast.

Lizzy: Here comes Harriet, and here’s your list.

Darcy: I’ll take a combination of #2, #4, and #5.

Lizzy: From my list?

Darcy: From the menu. Harriet can bring extra plates so you girls can try some of each entrée.

Lizzy: Doggone. I thought you liked my list.

Darcy: Oh, I’m ordering everything on that menu, sugar. Eat up. You’re goin’ to need your strength.

Lizzy: Be good. My sister’s listenin’.

Jane: And takin’ notes. Let me see that list, mister.

Lizzy: You goin’ to tell Daddy on me?

Jane: Nope, I’m goin’ to copy it down for ideas. I’ll bet Charlie would like a list, too.

Darcy: Harriet’s almost here for our order. I’ll put the list in my wallet where it’ll be safe. There are small children around us.

Lizzy: That list is PG. PG-13 at the worst. Don’t make Janie think it’s bad.

Darcy: Hi, Harriet. What’s good today?

Harriet: A foot rub sounds good about now, but it isn’t on the menu.

Darcy: I think that’s on the list.

Harriet: What list?

Darcy, Lizzy, and Jane: Never mind.