Tag Archives: marriage

Deuce Part Deux — Laura-Lou Got Married


Laura and her mama, Connie.

So for several years, Laura (Deuce), Budge, and I pretty much hung together non-stop. Laura had many other friends from the school district and Starbucks. She even kept in touch with a good many of her high school friends who moved away from Ware Shoals. She has one high school girlfriend named Shaye Hall whom I am quite ready to meet and ask a question or two about a certain New Kids on the Block concert, but that is a story for another time.

We were together a great deal, but not exclusively. We would usually eat together on Tuesdays and Thursdays through the week and at least once, if not twice on the weekends. We also had long stretches when we didn’t get to see much of Deuce. She’s a pretty amazing actress (but what else can you expect from Drew Barrymore’s bestie?) and a member of the Laurens County Community Theater.

Some members of the LCCT. Laura is the cow.

For about a month each fall and spring, we’d be lucky to see her once a week because she’d have to sandwich rehearsals between two jobs. The shows have always been worth it. Her portrayal of Olene Whiffer is especially memorable. Think Steel Magnolias meets Gypsy Rose and you’ll have a pretty fair picture of Ms. Whiffer.

The last four years, we’ve also had the ritual of sitting with Laura while she was dead panicked about having a job at the school district, which has been her main source of income and benefits. With all the cutbacks since the bottom fell out of the economy in 2008, she’s never been sure if her job was next on the chopping block or not. So far though, she’s always managed to have a spot. It probably doesn’t hurt that the superintendent and the high school principal — as well as most everyone else in District 56 — loves her almost as much as we do.

The Gang from Starbucks

Work kept us apart, the theater kept us apart, and football season kept us apart. Once Laura started working at the high school, she took over the Spirit Club. As a “perk” of this office, she got to be at EVERY football game, fair weather or foul, home or away, heat or cold. When I was still at Bell Street, I’d come to a few games as well, but I never made the trek to Union or York. For the record, Union, SC is impossible to get straight to. It’s one of those “you-can’t-get-there-from-here” places.

But I digress.

One issue which never kept us apart, however, was Laura’s dating life. Without putting too fine a point on it, she didn’t have much of one. Now you might ask, as I did when I didn’t know her as well as I do now, how such a beautiful, classy, and outgoing young woman could NOT have three dates per weekend. The answer lies in which Laura shows up for the evening — Ware Shoals Laura or Simpsonville Laura.

See, Simpsonville Laura went to etiquette classes and knows which utensil to start eating with at the most swanky restaurants and receptions. Simpsonville Laura is demure, very sweet, kind, and forgiving. Simpsonville Laura drinks Blue Moon with an orange wedge on the lip of the glass.

This is Simpsonville Laura dangerously close to morphing into Ware Shoals Laura.

Ware Shoals Laura shoots tequila. Not often, but she does. Ware Shoals Laura is the slightly less refined and considerably more dangerous alter ego of Simpsonville Laura. Ware Shoals Laura also went to etiquette classes but she mostly remembers which knife on the table is sharpest and will cut a heart out best. The funny thing is, you could be sitting next to Simpsonville Laura one minute and someone — often me — would say something stupid and when you’d look over, you’d be sitting next to Ware Shoals Laura.

Simpsonville Laura has always loved men with dark handsome looks; Ware Shoals Laura has always loved men with barbecue sauce, Texas Pete, and a side of green beans. Not every guy, not even most guys, had what it takes to deal with sporadic outbreaks of Ware Shoals Laura. Thom didn’t, Eric didn’t, some guy from Greenwood who ate one dinner with us at Wasabi’s didn’t, and poor Pete (Pete the Dude, not Pete the Cat. That’s another story) CERTAINLY didn’t. He’s still got a few things to learn about himself I do believe.

But one did, and that’s where the buckeye comes in.

Laura and Mr. Dick, giver of the sacred buckeye.

Now why in the name of all that’s holy a MICHIGAN WOLVERINE fan would have a BUCKEYE in her possession was somewhat lost on me until I heard the story. Laura’s grandfather, Mr. Dick, had given Laura a genuine buckeye when she was but a wee lass and told her it was because she was greatly loved and very special and when she finally met a boy she loved as much as Mr. Dick loved her, a boy as special to her as she was to Mr. Dick, she should give him the buckeye and he’d be hers forever.

Deuce kept that buckeye a long time and might have kept it forever if it hadn’t been for the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. Now this particular group of which Laura is but a junior member is worthy of a blog all their own, but for the sake of time I will summarize. The Ya-Ya’s are a group of young ladies and older women who regularly visit one another, but once a year, they have a Ya-Ya convention at the Beach. It was during one of these annual maritime rendezvous when one of the top ranking Ya-Ya’s mentioned she had a son she wanted Laura to meet.

Some of the Ya-Ya's in the Caribbean.

His name was Cameron Hall and his mother, Elaine, introduced the two of them later that summer. The rest, as the old story goes, is history.

Budge and I knew Laura was going out regularly with Cameron and I figured he had to be at least a decent guy because he was willing to drive up an hour and some change one way from Columbia every time they went on a date. I didn’t know HOW well they were getting along until Laura, Budge, and I were on the way to supper one evening last summer and she ended a cell phone call with “I Love You!” I automatically asked her how her daddy was doing because Mr. Ray Davis was the ONLY person Budge or I EVER heard Laura say “I love you” to on the phone. She was quiet for a minute then said, “Um, That wasn’t Daddy, that was Cameron.”

Wow. This was SERIOUS.

It was so serious she introduced him to Budge and I, which was something she’d only done on one other occasion and only because she wanted some good excuses to dump the Greenwood guy from Wasabi’s. It was SO serious that the night we went to meet Cameron and Laura for dinner at TGI Friday’s in Greenville, I not only traded my normal T-shirt and basketball shorts for khakis and a collared polo, I also wore BIG BOY SHOES instead of my neon colored Crocs.  Laura noticed immediately and later told Cameron that was a fairly big deal.

The minute I saw him I didn’t like him. He was handsome in just the slightly rough way I knew Deuce loved. He was a football fan and he liked USC and . . . well, he was just about as perfect a match as is possible in this fallen world of ours. I didn’t like him because I knew he was probably the one who was going to break up the band. Once I saw him look at Laura though, I had to get over it. He loved her and the way he looked at her proved it. What’s more, he’s a good and gentle man. Hardworking and kind and he treats Deuce as if the Sun and stars spun around her hair on a halo.

This Christmas, after a little more than a year together, Laura gave Cameron Mr. Dick’s buckeye.

The shoals that give Ware Shoals its name.

I started waiting for the inevitable call.

It came this past May after the Ware Shoals Catfish Feastival (and NO that is not a misspelling). Cameron had gotten Big Momma’s 100-year-old diamond ring from Connie, Laura’s mama, and had it reset for her. He, with some timely help from young Jacob, gave her the ring on the rocks of the shoals in sight of the house where Laura grew up near the middle of town she loves like no other place on Earth. My Deuce was getting married.

Cam's beard wasn't that grey when he and Deuce started dating. Just saying.

So, just a tiny bit more than one month ago today, I dusted off my wedding manual, checked over the procedure for properly endorsing a marriage license, and sat going over the vows and ceremony as Budge drove following Laura, Cameron, and Jake, Cameron’s son, down to the Isle Of Palms near Charleston. There, in a simple white dress and Cam in nice khaki slacks repeated after me in cargoes and purple Crocs their vows and “I do’s.” I made it through almost the entire ceremony without crying, but my voice caught just a bit during the prayer.

Last week, they moved in to their new house together in Laurens, SC and tomorrow night we’re gathering in Ware Shoals for a swanky reception. Hopefully, Cameron will let me borrow Deuce back long enough to show me which fork to use.

It hurts a little knowing I won’t get to see Deuce as much as we did, but I look forward to seeing what kind of beautiful love grows from that small brown seed from the Aesculus glabra 

It’s common name is The American Buckeye.

Love y’all!

Signs, Signs, Lots of Purple Signs



Crude approximation of the first sign we saw that made me think Budge was off in the head.


Today marks 16 years since my Budge and I went on that fateful Hummer ride up the mountain at Camp Awanita. We’ve been together SIXTEEN years! That’s only four years less than half my life!


We married the NEXT August, so God willing, this August will be our 15th anniversary. We almost didn’t make it past the honeymoon, however, because by the time we reached our destination, I was certain I had married a lunatic.

To understand the humor, irony, etc of this story, you need to know that Budge and her family were very well traveled. They took vacations all over the country. Most importantly, they went to Walt Disney World at LEAST once a year from the time she could walk until she was in the ninth grade. She and her dad went together the year her mom passed then they skipped a year, then she and I went there on our honeymoon. Walt Disney World is my beloved’s most happy place. I cannot stress enough how much she loves the place. It is VERY germane to the story.

I, on the other hand, have only left the state of South Carolina a bare handful of times. We just didn’t travel much due to lack of money, lack of time, or both. Then, and pretty much now still, I hadn’t been many places. I had been to Disney World with the National Junior Honor Society from GCO when I was in the seventh grade, but by 1996, that’d been a while.

So, we get married, clean the goop off the car, go to Mama’s, pack some last minute stuff, eat supper, and spend the night in the Greenville Hilton. The next day, we got up, ate with Dana’s dad, brother, and my dear niece Kayla. Then we headed for Orlando and “The Happiest Place on Earth.” I drove the whole way. This was before I learned not to CARE what other people think about a man having his wife drive him around. It was also before I learned that Budge is a MUCH better driver than I am. She has a lead foot and needs a 3 painted on the side of any car she drives, but she is a fantastic driver.

But I digress.

We got to Orlando / Kissimmee after dark and went to the Holiday Inn Express to check in. This was when we discovered that Kissimmee was home to about 1,500 HIEs and ours was the absolute most remote from all humanity. We drove another hour to find it, wrestled the bags up the pee-stained elevator to our room . . . and crashed.

The next day, at the butt-crack of dawn, Budge gets me up. It was time to go to Disney World! We ate breakfast, piled in the car, and joined the rest of the United Nations in driving to the Magic Kingdom. Now please realize that back then, I was MUCH more intense than I am now. I was in the middle of the biggest crowd of traffic since Moses led the Exodus AND I had no idea where I was going. I was piano-wire tight.

By following another “Just Married” SUV, I managed to find the entrance to the park. Still, the traffic was stacked up on either side of me. I was sweating in the August Florida heat and was beginning to feel like a complete failure as a husband only three days into a marriage when it happened. My wife LOST HER FREAKING MIND.

I’m listening to her talk and am intently concentrating on the bumper of the balding guy in his midlife crisis Corvette when my sweet, quiet, and meek little wife ERUPTS beside me with a high pitched elephantine bellow of “I SEE PURPLE SIGNS, I SEE PURPLE SIGNS, I SEE PURPLE SIGNS, I SEE PURPLE SIGNS, I SEE PURPLE SIGNS!!!!”


Another Crude Representation.

I snapped my head up so fast I felt the vertebrae pop, banged my head on the ceiling, bit my jaw, and whipped around incredulously to find Budge bouncing up and down in her seat pointing to a purple sign with Mickey Mouse’s hands on top of it. I thought the girl had gone around the bend.


It was then that she chose to point out “THE PURPLE SIGNS” evenly spaced along the road. Each one revealed a bit more of the famous rodent while letting all we lemmings know how far it was to the parking lot. The final sign showed Mickey’s smiling face, ears, and clapping hands and announced “You’re Here!” The look on my new wife’s face was one of complete rapture. We pulled in to Sleepy lot A, row 6, I think, and made our way to the shuttle.

As I took her little hand (she has THE daintiest hands), I realized then — after I had a moment to recover — that I had not, in fact, married a lunatic. I had married a precious young woman with a child-like, but not childish, spirit who could enjoy three days of purple signs as much as some would have enjoyed a three week cruise. We had a wonderful honeymoon in “The Happiest Place on Earth” and it saddens me to no end that we’ve never gotten to go back. Hope springs eternal however and I hope we’ll get to return to the land of purple signs soon.

Until then, know that I love y’all and keep those feet clean for this newly old man!