Imperfectly Nice


We can do it

Carrie as Rosie the Riveter last Halloween.
Because we CAN do it!

“She was bendable light: she shone around every corner of my day.”

I have written and deleted hundreds of words to try and make this post perfect, and I have decided it’s just not going to get there. I am used to stumbling and failing in speech, but not so much on paper. I can always find the words to write, but words are failing me now. So, I have decided to publish this anyway. I am going to say things wrong, and I am going to struggle to find the words I need, but at this point, saying something is much more important to me than getting it exactly right.

I have a sweet, funny friend named Carrie. We have been friends since we were seven. There have been times we have talked almost nonstop every day and times where we didn’t talk for years – not because we didn’t love each other – but because that happens sometimes in life when you move and live and grow and love in different circles. The thing about Carrie and me is, though, that we always find our way back to one another, no matter how long it’s been. And each time I hear her voice, it’s like no time has passed. She is my friend now, just as she was when we were little girls, and I love her dearly.

Last week, Carrie was diagnosed with stage four cancer and I feel the need to share what a remarkable person she is. How often do we take the time to just shout to the universe how truly awesome someone we love is? Not often enough. So … here goes. I hope that somehow, through these words, you will come to know Carrie the way I do, and see her as I do.

I met Carrie when we were seven on the bus that drove us from our elementary school to the high school where our mothers taught, about 100 yards away. She was little and had long, blonde curls and bright blue eyes and wore a navy beret. I thought she was pretty and stylish and I wanted her to be my friend. I don’t remember exactly, but I am guessing she is the one who approached me. Because that’s what she does. She envelops everyone around her into her ball of energy. We were fast friends, and my family’s move a couple of years later didn’t do anything to change that. That just meant high phone bills for our parents and frequent slumber parties when I visited Mississippi each summer.

Six years after we moved away, we moved back. I was devastated to leave our home. I was hurting over leaving my best friend, and I wasn’t handling the move back well at all. Carrie was my salvation. The group of friends I’d had as a kid had fractured. As we got older, they didn’t want to hang out when I came back to town like they had before. We were growing up and moving on to other friends and other things. But not Carrie. I mean, yes, she was growing up and doing new things, but she never stopped having time for me. She never thought I wasn’t as cool as her new friends. We just never outgrew each other.

When I called her to tell her I would be moving back and we would be starting our 10th grade year together, she was so excited, it was the first ray of hope I had felt for a while. The first day of school was totally awkward. Starting back in a place where a lot of people knew me, but weren’t really my friends just did not have me rushing to start the school year. The morning was just as awful as I thought it would be, made even more so by being told I was breaking the school dress code within the first two minutes of being there. (Um … what? These shorts are too short? Hand to God, they were probably no more than four inches above my knee. Seriously. We were staying at my Granny and Granddaddy’s house during the move and Ava Nell would have never allowed me out of the house in something that even bordered on inappropriate. Ava Nell is the reason for the name of this blog. The one with an endless list of things that nice girls don’t do. And nice girls certainly don’t go to school in slutty shorts.) I made a mental note to make an emergency run for culottes after school and spent the rest of the morning dreading lunch, which I did NOT have with Carrie. All I could picture was a sea of faces of people I used to play with, giving me a less than welcoming reception while I struggled to understand why. You know, your basic teenage nightmare.

I spent 30 seconds alone before a slender, dark-haired girl introduced herself and told me Carrie had told her to keep an eye out for me. And just like that, she became my friend, too. I wonder if Carrie even understands how much she did for me that day. She cared for me. She made sure I wasn’t trying to navigate the minefield of sort of new girl status alone. She took someone who was devastated and feeling untethered and threw me a lifeline. I held on to that lifeline dearly for the next three years. Actually, if she’s realized it or not, I’ve never let it go.

Carrie is full of life and light. She has a big personality and her enthusiasm, her silliness and her laughter are contagious. She loves fiercely and completely. When she steps on a stage to sing, she is larger than life. You can’t help but stare, and you can’t help but thank God He gave people talent like that. To me, she is fearless and brave. She is a big reason this blog even exists. I see her putting herself out there in a way that inspires me and makes me want to be fearless too. Or at least to not let the fear stop me from being. She is my friend and my sister and I love her.

She is fighting. I am fighting with her in the only ways I know how – praying, writing, trying to think of silly packages to send to her. I am asking you to fight with her, too. Pray. Even if you don’t know her or will never know her – pray. She has a husband who loves her and two beautiful little girls who need her. She has a mama who worries about her and a daddy who will be strong for her. She has a million cousins who are just as funny as she is and who will all be caring for her, I am sure. She has friends who adore her. She has a lot to fight for. And she will. But her body is tired. It is hurting. She needs our help. Carrie, who has taken care of so many of us, needs us to take care of her now. As Glennon Melton says, “we belong to each other.” We belong to Carrie, and she belongs to us. So, please pray. Let her name ring in God’s ears endlessly. She can’t raise her beautiful voice, so I am asking you to raise yours for her. She belongs to us. 


I got 99 problems …

Vaught is two. “Terrible” two. I have spent most of his “terrible” twos telling other parents with younger children, “Oh, please – terrible twos! Ha! Two is totally fun! Toddlerhood, in my opinion, is much more fun than the infant stage! This is great! Awesome, even! It is nonstop fun over here and don’t listen to parents who talk about those ‘terrible twos!’ They are obviously a little crazy!” Do you see all of my exclamation pointed excitement about two and being two, and two is just a big pile of AWESOME?!

Ha! Hahahahahahaha! Oh, universe. You sure do like to make me eat my words, don’t you? It’s a fun little game you play, isn’t it? While I have been busy being all smug about the greatness that is two, my child has been busy plotting. Yes, plotting, I tell you. Maybe I can blame it on the approximately 72 trillion showings of “Despicable Me” he’s watched recently. (And, yes, I am aware that I am the one pressing play. But, for a kid who likes to be outside or playing and not in front of a TV all that often, and for a mom who personally loves Gru and his little minions, I allow it.) Anyway, he particularly loves the parts where Gru is bossing his minions around and does an awesome “Listen UP!” that even Steve Carell would be proud of. It’s cute. Or it was until I realized he was taking pointers.

This whole waiting until he’s almost three to hit this stage is part of his strategy, I think. He got me all comfortable thinking I totally had this toddler thing covered while, in reality, he has been plotting all Gru-like – probably late at night with Woody and Mickey and the two Bullzeyes that share his bed. Oh, and the dinosaur. I’ve never trusted that dinosaur. Anyway, he’s gone from sweet snuggle fests and playing and toddler blissdom to testing our boundaries every chance he gets. It started off slowly. A finger pointed at us here and there, an exasperated sigh from time to time. He has always been a strong-willed child, and he has always challenged us, but in ways that haven’t driven us crazy. And now? Well, hello there, crazy! We’ve have come careening into terrible two just like some certain toddler making laps around the couch on his tricycle.

Here are some of the ways I’ve RUINED his life recently:

–          I opened the crackers before I opened the juice.

–          I opened the juice before I opened the crackers.

–          I opened the juice but was supposed to let HIM do the straw.

–          I made him do the straw.

–          I let the corner of the white blanket peek out from underneath the blue blanket, which MUST go on top. And it MUST completely cover the white blanket. Please note: The blue blanket is smaller than the white blanket. This is … math I can’t even do. I have become a master of blanket origami is all I can tell you.

–          I said something out of order at bedtime. It goes, “Sweet dreams. I love you. Okay.” NOT “I love you. Sweet dreams. Okay.” I mean seriously, after I’ve mastered the illusion of full blue blanket coverage I can’t always be expected to remember the script exactly, can I? The answer is yes, yes, I can. Also, I don’t even know when the “okay” became part of the script. What in the world? I need these changes in writing.

This list could go on for quite a while. I could write volumes. The point is, this kid – he is testing us. Most of the time I tell him something like, “Well, yes, I did open the refrigerator door in a way you found offensive, but, son, we must move on with our lives,” but lately, I notice myself having more days where I sound a little short and a little stressed. There have been days that when he has done his Gru “Listen UP!” speech that I’ve thought … hmmmm, that maybe sounds more like me than Steve Carell. Just maybe. Oh, and that exasperated sigh? Wow, that’s all me.

But now I do understand the conversations I used to have with my sister, who has three children, when she would tell me that yes, there will be days they will drive you nuts, there will be days you long for 30 minutes of peace, there will be days that you yell too much and feel like a bad parent, but most of the time, by the end of those days, there will be a moment that puts it all in perspective. For me, even if there have been stomped feet and clinched fists and tears, he still wants to snuggle with me on the couch before I go rock him, and that’s my moment. I know that is a luxury. When he is all grown up, he won’t want that. He won’t say, “Sweet dreams. I love you. Okay.” So even when he gets frustrated when I say it “wrong,” I try my best to remember I won’t always get to tuck him in and suddenly the feeling of, this too shall pass, thank God, becomes, oh … this too shall pass. Oh. Perspective. See?

And if it’s been a particularly challenging day when even the snuggling isn’t working? I find one of the final scenes of “Madagascar 3” works wonders for our moods. You try to spin a two-year old around the room to Katy Perry without laughing. You can’t. It’s one of those things like not being able to lick your own elbow. Physically impossible. Because some days, you just gotta ignite the light and let it shine. Just own the night, like the fourth of July. (You will have that in your head the rest of the day now. You are welcome. I recommend not fighting it. Just find a two-year old to spin with.)

ImageYep. He’s got me exactly where he wants me. (Photo credit: Jennifer Jones Photography.)

Don’t know just what to do with myself

I find myself unexpectedly without child tonight after a call from my mother-in-law earlier today.

MIL: Hey! I was thinking about picking Vaught up early today. 
Me: Sure! He would love that!
MIL: … and taking him to Florida. 
Me: (Blinking, stuttering.) Well, yes, yes, of course that is a fantastic idea. Because, Florida! And cousins!

It is a fantastic idea because he loves our family in Florida and he loves his Mimi, who he doesn’t see that often any more since the move to Wisconsin. No, really. Wisconsin. Don’t get me wrong – I am sure Wisconsin is a lovely place but not many people move from the Gulf Coast to Wisconsin, you know? I mean, temperatures get down below 45 and we just freeze up on the spot. True story.

Now I am caught between the opposing emotions of elation at the idea of having an entire night to myself and being a little bummed about the whole situation. I mean, on one hand there is an entire night to myself. To myself. To do whatever I want to do. Whatever. I. Want. To. Do. The mind boggles. I don’t think I can comprehend the concept. (And you people with multiple children are totally rolling your eyes now, aren’t you? And to you, I say, a great big, fat whatever.) On the other hand, I have realized as I get older that while I am typically a pretty laid back person, things like this kind of throw me off. I need some notice, you know? I was planning on letting him run around in his new Buzz Lightyear costume and making mac and cheese tonight and these are obvs plans that CANNOT BE CHANGED. Also, I didn’t properly say goodbye this morning since I wasn’t aware of the Florida plan. I hugged and cuddled and kissed enough for an eight hour separation, but a 24+ hour separation? I just don’t think I got the job done.

The good news is that the babysitter lives close enough to my office that I ran by for a proper goodbye, complete with hugs and cuddles and kisses and some very sunrise/sunset moments while he was all, “Um, yeah, can we go to Florida now? Because, Florida. And cousins. And Mimi will totally let me eat cupcakes a lot of the times.” Yeah, so … an evening to myself. I can’t decide if I should:

1-      Call up some friends for a last-minute ladies’ night out. (But, you know, it is a Wednesday and they have kids, so probably not.)

2-      Go to a fine dining establishment since I haven’t seen the inside of one of those for, oh, about two years and nine months, and eat, very, very slowly. My meals are typically eaten quickly, with one hand, and a toddler standing in my lap while he wipes his hands on my hair. It’s an adventure both while eating and while showering and playing “what the hell is this in my hair?” the next morning.

3-      Target. Book store. Starbucks. I seriously may not be able to handle the level of euphoria my brain would reach if I choose this option.

4-      Drink wine on my couch while trying to figure out how I can switch the connection from the DVR to the Roku because I am just that good at technology.

I am thinking I will have a lovely evening of some sort of combination of numbers three and four. That and the total and complete panic I will experience when I wake up in the morning wondering why I haven’t heard Vaught on the monitor yet. This is going to be awesome! With one exception: No wake up call from Buzz Lightyear. Image


On classic films and swimming pigs

Have you ever had a little sliver of a song drift into your brain for a few fleeting seconds? For years and years? And even though you are a master of Googling, maybe because you always feel the need to prove yourself right in petty arguments with your husband, (No, that is absolutely NOT a Smashing Pumpkins song, that is a Green Day song and HOW could you ever confuse the two? GAH! Google! I win!) you never actually Google the snippet of song because it always comes to you at random times, like in the shower and you’ve forgotten it by the time you get out? No? Just me?

Well, seriously, for years, I have randomly had a brief clip of dramatically swelling music and the words, “… you, a dream come true” go through my head and I have never remembered where it came from. It’s from some classic black and white movie, no film, I would think. (Because, obviously, film is fancier.) Probably something with Gene Kelly or Audrey Hepburn. Maybe with someone like Donald O’Connor as the zany sidekick, like in “Singing in the Rain.” But something really romantic and classic.

It’s this:

Yep, Charles Grodin singing of his undying love for Miss Piggy in “The Great Muppet Caper.” Classic. Romantic. With a pig in a swimsuit. In my defense, this was obviously inspired by an Esther Williams movie.

Pretty is as pretty does

If you have read the About Me page of this blog, you will know that my Granny had a list of things that nice girls don’t do and that airing your dirty laundry is on that list. And, oh, were there some dirty drawers flapping in the breeze on the premiere of Lifetime’s “Pretty Wicked Moms” last night. Yes, I watched it. Judge away folks, and while you are at it, please know that I regularly watch the Real Housewives of New Jersey, New York and Orange County. (But never Miami and only sometimes LA. I mean, I do have standards.)

I hadn’t even heard of “Pretty Wicked Moms” until an article began making its way around Facebook last week because one of the wicked mamas is not only a Mississippi girl, but an Ole Miss graduate and Eli Manning’s cousin. That makes her Southern royalty once removed.

The Mannings are legend, and not only for their skills on the gridiron, but for being genuinely good, down-to-earth people. When Eli is in Oxford in the off season, he borrows can openers from the neighbors and plays basketball with local kids. The Manning family sets up their tent in the Grove with everyone else, just like, you know, regular people. Matriarch Olivia  is the definition of a Southern Belle – gracious, well-mannered, kind, stylish – everything your grandmamma wants you to be. So, I assumed that Emily Dees Boulden, who is known as the Queen Bee Mom (Yes, they really label them like that, with capital letters and everything –the Doggy Mom, the Alpha Mom, the Divorcee, etc.), would be much the same.

Weeeellllll … not so much. In a move that left church ladies all over her hometown of Philadelphia, Miss., clutching their pearls and adding her to prayer lists, Emily not only talked openly about all of the s-e-x she doesn’t have with her husband, the whip-thin blonde cussed like a sailor. My personal favorite line was that she would rather “slit her damn throat than go on a play date.”

The show centers around Emily, her single white female sidekick, all of the sex she is not having with her husband and her like or dislike (or both) of the other mamas. If you didn’t see it, let me paint this picture for you and let’s hope it doesn’t get too confusing because I am about to mash a lot of movie themes together.

Emily is Regina George. She will decide what we wear today, she will decide which hair styles are acceptable and she and ONLY she will decide who is worthy of being in the “Jingle Bell Rock” number at the talent show.

The one known as the Newbie Mom is Cady, complete with drab to fab makeover and, I predict, the desire to kick our Queen Bee Mom off her throne in season two, which will leave Emily having some very Dr. Frankenstein regret-filled moments, I’m afraid. I also predict that Emily will not be dethroned. Not for one second. She will scoop up a piece of marble floor, screaming, “As God as my witness,” before she lets that happen.

Single white female/Doggy Mom is a combo of Gretchen and Karen and all she really wants is to have Queen Bee’s approval for every little thing in life and to make fetch happen. I would bet my next pay check that if she gets skinnier, Emily starts giving her fake energy bars because no one, NO ONE, is going to be allowed to be skinnier than Emily. (Side note: there was a girl a year or so younger than me at Ole Miss who was on a strict diet of Marlboro Reds and Diet Coke. No, seriously. She would tell people she was just “gettin’ skinny!” I am wondering if this was the Queen Bee. Because she seems like someone who would be that dedicated to having clavicles that look like they could cut glass. Hmmmm.)

At one point, Emily says she “doesn’t give a f**k” about how mothers judge one another. Honestly, I would applaud if that were the case, but the truth is, she doesn’t judge other mothers based on bottle vs. breast or sleep training vs. co-sleeping because she is too busy judging them for their hair, makeup and/or the fact that they are too into their kids. Oh honey, you give an eff. I could write a list a mile long about all of the effs you give. (Although, apparently, none of them are for your husband. Oooh, I took it too far there didn’t I? And, y’all, my mother is now totally clutching her pearls because I am even making reference to the f word and making a joke about it. But I bet I won’t end up on the prayer list at First United Methodist because that would mean she would have to air the dirty laundry that her daughter almost said the f word on the Internet. Multiple times. Love you, Mama!)

I’m guessing that, like all reality shows, there is a lot of fake and staged stuff here. For example, Newbie Mom was obviously given dark eye circles and bad hair on last night’s episode on purpose so we can see the “benefit” of the full-on Plastics makeover next week. Emily spent half of her camera time talking about how she didn’t want to talk about anyone else’s kid, or even her own kid, for that matter, and the other half of the episode telling us how much she loves her little baby bee. I imagine her *whatever* attitude about her daughter is at least slightly exaggerated for the cameras. I think there is a lot of truth in who these women are portraying themselves to be, just like there is some amount of truth behind many stereotypes. They are playing it up for the cameras. Colorful people make interesting TV. I get that.

But the problem, folks, is that Tina Fey is not writing the script here. There will be no redemption for Regina in the end. No one will decide that being a mathlete is better than being part of the Plastics. Newbie Mom will get skinnier and blonder, and Alpha Mom will continue to spend more than she has, every last one of them will keep trying to keep up with Regina George and will always, they believe, keep falling short. We will continue to celebrate women for being shallow and catty and their daughters will grow up knowing that if you act shallow and catty *enough*, you might just get paid for it. If you are skinny, that is. And I will continue to be part of the problem because I will watch it.

Anyway, I don’t know what kind of feedback Emily has received today after the first show aired, but that’s okay, because whatever it is, you can be sure that the ladies over at First Baptist are praying for you, sweetie.

Meeting Ian, or, I’m Sorry Nina Dobrev

If you are a fan of The Vampire Diaries, or TVD, as it is known to fans as the CW has drilled that into our heads from the beginning, lest anyone give it the unfortunate moniker VD, you probably know that Ian and Nina have broken up.

Aaaand, I think we all know why:

Ian and April

Seriously, man, I am a happily married woman.

 In a rumor you haven’t heard yet, (because I am starting it here, now) it has been said that Ian couldn’t get a fan he met at a recent event out of his head and it started the rift between the beautiful co-stars. It all make sense now … the hugs, the lingering glances, the arm tweak. All fans know that isn’t Ian’s MO – he’s notoriously standoffish with fans. That’s right, apparently, Ian just tired of the flawless skin, glossy hair and legs up to there of his 20-something lady and may just prefer the laugh lines and fleshy upper arms of a 30-something mom.* My apologies to the fandom.

*Is the sarcasm coming through? Because I hope so. Seriously, meeting Ian (I can totally call him Ian now. After all, we shared fleeting moments of a paid fan experience. ) was  great. I could tell you he wasn’t as pretty as he is on TV or that he’s actually kind of a jerk, but those would be dirty, dirty lies. He was kind and gracious and even prettier than he is on TV. I know. It seems impossible, yet it’s true.

Anyway, I hate that those two couldn’t make it work because it was fun watching them be beautiful and philanthropic together. I think the only right decision here is to make season five all Delena, all the time, yes? 

Sweater pants. Let’s make this happen.

I know it’s a Friday afternoon and all of the folks at Banana Republic HQ are getting ready to go out to dinner, turning their sensible casual Friday outfits into something slightly less sensible and a little more sparkly for a night out on the town, (Flats to spike heels, a statement necklace in a contrasting color!), but they may want to cancel those dinner reservations once they’ve laid their eyes on sweater pants. That’s right. I’m making it a thing.

It may look like a sweater from their factory outlet collection circa 2007, but has been converted – upcycled, if you will – into a lovely pair of toddler leggings, complete with buttons in the back for easy Pullup access. Mommy can wear it to work, toddler wears it when the warm May sunshine becomes cold May rain (Seriously? This is why we live in the south, Weather!) and your child’s adorable seersucker shorts are completely useless.

So, hop to BR designers. We’ve got gold here. And I am not even charging you for this. I am a totally a philanthropist. First, refusing to kill imaginary birds and now this? Will my good deeds never end? The rest of you can thank me when your baby girl is using your capri pants as a cute little scarf.

sweater pants

The eagle has landed … or is dead in the backyard

So, a couple of nights ago, a little after 4 a.m., Vaught woke up. This is pretty rare so I assumed illness, nightmare, a tiny Jake or one of his Neverland Pirate sidekicks painfully poking into his fleshy little knee, something. He didn’t seem too bothered though – just awake. I didn’t think much about it until he really and truly woke up for the day and started telling me, in confusing detail, about the eagle that landed on his bed and eventually came to rest on my shoulder. Now, I know it was 4 a.m., and I was a little groggy, but I think I would remember if a large bird of prey was anywhere on my person.

His story sounded a little like something like this. Which makes sense to me. I am a PR person. This just sounds like a crisis communications meeting to me. We’ve come up with far crazier scenarios and have written press statements for them. Anyway, I did my best to reassure him that I am pretty sure none of that ever happened, but here’s where my logic was woefully flawed – I was trying to reason with a two-year old. Reason with a two-year old. Still, it seemed like a fantastic story he was enjoying telling so I wasn’t concerned. Until that night at bedtime, which is typically full of snuggly reading and rocking, was suddenly an all out battle against the tainted bird bed. He insisted an eagle was IN HIS BED, and he was not, repeat, NOT going to get in that bed. He basically told me to sell my crazy somewhere else because there was clearly a terrifying taloned fowl in his crib and that I was blind not to see.

I determined that the best plan of action was to explain it was all a dream, there was no bird in his bed and hey, look at that, your pals Bullseye and Mickey are the only things in there. No eagles, not even a tiny little sparrow. He seemed to buy it for a few minutes but, for the next hour, he fought, he cried, he insisted he wasn’t getting anywhere near that crib so just give up the fight, mommy lady.

After several tries, I tagged Neil. He rocked, he reasoned, he took everything out of the bed to remove any doubt that an eagle could maybe be hiding under his pillow pet. Still, no dice. I was listening from the living room, trying to think of what we could do and trying to determine if this was true fear or clever two-year old manipulation. I decided that it was fear and was debating maybe going into his room to shoo the imaginary bird out of the real window, mentally weighing the psychological ramifications of that decision. Would shooing the eagle out make him think there actually was an eagle? Would he think another eagle could get in? I even briefly considered pretending I was stomping the bird like I would a bug, but I couldn’t bring myself to really consider birdicide as an option. It’s an eagle. An endangered animal. And, I mean, America. It was about that time that I heard Neil say, “There’s no eagle, buddy. Daddy took care of it for you. I took it out back and shot it.” Vaught’s response? “Okay. Night night, Daddy.” And he  peacefully drifted off to a birdless slumber. I, however, am considering talking to a professional about my inner conflict about ridding my home of imaginary animals.

Can I hold you?

There are things you don’t say any more at two and a half, like hydeco, which was your word for motorcycle for some inexplicable reason. It makes me a little sad because seeing you point with chubby little fingers and hearing you scream, “hydeco!” every time you heard the bapbapbap of a motorcycle engine made me happy. But there are new things every day to make me smile. My favorites are, “Mommy, can I hold you?” when you want me to pick you up, and, “Mommy, I want you. Can I have you?” The answers to both of these questions, by the way, is yes. Always and forever, yes. I just hope you keep asking for a very long time, my sweet man.

Vaught in the bay

My Favorite Monster

So, on Sunday, I get to meet this guy …

 Ian Somerhalder 

I will wake up and go to church on Palm Sunday with my family and then I will go and meet Ian Somerhalder and very possibly be very awkward in front of the beautiful, famous person. You know, just a typical Sunday.

If you are not familiar with Mr. Somerhalder, I will give you some background. Ian Somerhalder is an actor, formerly of “Lost,” now of “The Vampire Diaries.” He is a Louisiana boy and an animal rights activist. His brother lives locally, and they have a business together. I believe our Chamber of Commerce seriously needs to consider some kind of, “Hey, Ian Somerhalder stops by from time to time” campaign to draw in more tourists. The beach and art are great, but the beach and art and Ian Somerhalder are infinitely better.

He is my most favorite angst-filled monster and bad boy. And I have loved angst-filled monsters and bad boys for many, many years.

When I was 11, I picked up L.J. Smith’s, “The Awakening,” the first in “The Vampire Diaries’ series. My 11-year old heart immediately fell in love with the exotic, green-eyed Stefan Savlatore and loved him right up to the point his bad-boy brother, the black-eyed Damon, walked into a darkened high school gym. The kinder, gentler Salvatore brother was promptly forgotten for his darker, more dangerous brother. Eleven year old girls are fickle. Anyway, in middle school, I read these books until the covers fell off and my best friend and I spent many hours pondering the perfection of the Salvatore brothers. This started a years-long preference for fictional bad boys like Troy Dyer and Will Herondale. (Thankfully, this preference only spilled over into my personal life for fleeting moments of insanity and I managed to marry a truly awesome man. Because bad boys? While immensely interesting in books and on film, are total jack legs in real life.)

Eventually, I outgrew the books and didn’t think much about them until a few years ago when I heard the CW was eager to cash in on the “Twilight,” “True Blood” market and was making a show based on the books. I found them in my old bedroom at my parents’ house and read them again. They … did not really hold up over time, but I was still probably a little more excited about the show than someone over 30 should be.

My greatest concern was that they got Damon right. I knew the actresses portraying Elena, Bonnie and Caroline were very physically different than the girls in the books and got over that quickly, but Damon – Damon had to be right, not only physically, but in terms of cocky swagger. Enter Mr. Somerhalder. It was like they plucked him straight from my brain and put him on television. Add to that the genius of Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec, Ian’s swagger and, of course, the undeniable acting skills of his eyebrows, and we’ve got ourselves a living, breathing (well, I guess technically an undead and not breathing?) Damon Salvatore.

The show’s writers are amazing and the plot lines and character development, which differ a lot from the original books, are never anything you see coming. They made Damon dark and dangerous with just the right amount of vulnerability peeking through and then they went and made him even better by making him a smart ass. Han Solo with fangs.  

And THEN you find out that in real life, Somerhalder loves puppies and his home and his family and seriously, is this guy for real? I guess I will find out Sunday. Which leads me – finally – to my point. I don’t have much experience being around celebrities and I’m assuming I will have seconds to say hello and have a photo snapped. I know he meets thousands of people all of the time and what I say will be strung together with a million other comments about how he is loved, admired, etc., etc. But the thing is, I don’t do this sort of thing all of the time and while I know it will be a few forgettable seconds for him, it will be a moment I relive and retell for quite a while. I feel like I need the old Ellen DeGeneres Welcome Greeting Wheel full of choices like awkward one-armed hug or hand shake or firm embrace.

So, I need suggestions. Other than giggling like a school girl and basically making an idiot of myself. And a friend of mine has already claimed, “I carried a watermelon,” so that’s out.

(Also? It’s totally fine that I have blathered on about a celebrity crush for, well, a lot of paragraphs now because I have heard all about that Natalie golfer person’s pictures on Twitter of her new clothing line in great detail.)

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