By The Blessed Belle of Blowing Rock. October 1, 2015. BLOWING ROCK, NC — A few months ago I was introduced to a younger, artsy, well-connected woman who works in downtown Boone. She was cool as a cucumber wearing hot pink, suede high heels in the summer heat. I liked her “chutzpah”, secretly wanting some of it to rub off on me. I hoped that we would become friends.
A few days later the “Friend Gods” answered when my new culturally savvy and connected friend (“NCSCF”) invited me to an event at the home of a notable Boone figure. We met beforehand at a hip spot for a glass of liquid relaxant and our conversation was easy. No silent gaps. No awkward dealings with the server. We ordered the same Sauvignon Blanc and laughed as we tried to tell each other at the same time that we had heard it was the red wine drinker’s white wine. I thought to myself, “if she was a he and this was a first date this whole thing would get a blue ribbon.”
I owned the night…until the whistle.
Embraced by warm Blowing Rock folks for years, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect of the Boone crowd at this event. I was a little nervous upon our arrival. I had a quick conversation with myself; “Do you think you’ll know anyone? Certainly someone. Now remember only one more glass of wine…or maybe one and a half …or I know… one glass that’s really full. No. you know that’s not a good look. Why did you wear this dress? I hate you can’t afford dry-cleaning like you used to. It is way too muggy for your hair to be down, can’t wait to see it at the end of the night. You should have worn it up, you know this is a sophisticated theater crowd.” (in my head I’m saying the word “theater” in my most pretentious accent “thee-uh-tuh”).
The ridiculous self-talk abruptly ended when we were greeted by our hostess. She exuded grace, which for me is defined as a certain dignified beauty that someone possesses and puts others at ease. In some special souls you sense it instantaneously; she was one. She welcomed us with such ease and comfort, I could have easily kicked my shoes off in that foyer and she wouldn’t have blinked.
My NCSCF and I were immediately separated by different conversations. We winked and waved at one another as if to say… “Go. Be free. But know that I am here if you need me.” Socially, I danced through the evening, conversing about travel, political issues and the impact of community “thee-uh-tuh”– all the while eating several messy hors d’oeuvres without a hitch.
I owned the night… until the whistle.
I was beckoned by the intriguing sounds of music…but wait, was that an accordion? AND a guitar? In the large dining room was an incredible trio of musicians. I grabbed a seat and listened, mesmerized by their unique sound. After the last song, I clapped, but my clap was solo and it echoed in the large room. It wasn’t the right level of gratitude I wanted to show. So I put my thumb and forefinger in my mouth and blew a whistle. Not too loud — like I would at an outdoor concert or my nephew’s soccer game — but loud enough to show my gratitude for the artists. The singer smiled and thanked me over the mic.
I felt the music and had to show my gratitude.
A couple across the room was not as grateful. I held my eyes on them because I could feel their disdain from afar. The gentleman wore a navy blue beret, tilted ever so slightly and the distinguished dame beside him had a pinched-nose look on her face as though she had just smelled something really bad.
Passing in front of them as I exited the dining room, I stopped. And in my sweetest as molasses yet sincere tone I said, “I’m sorry if my whistle bothered you…I felt the music and I had to show my gratitude.”
Their silence slapped me in the face. With an insincere half laugh I added, “My ex-husband hated when I did it too….”.
Another slap. The beret rolled his eyes and in a snooty tone (I’m sure he pronounces “theater”, “thee-uh-tuh”) said to the pinched-nose dame, “When a stranger approaches and leads a conversation with something about ‘the ex’, certainly the conversation will NOT be stimulating, especially when preceded by that whistle.”
The pinched-nose dame laughed, all the while (amazingly) keeping her nose tightly pinched. And as though choreographed, they rolled their eyes and their heads in unison — and started talking among themselves.
I waltzed away (well, thinking back, I’m fairly certain it was a mad march). My lips pursed. Grumbling. The self-talk starts, “What the? Who the? Did they really? Where the HELL is my NCSCF?”
…if you are grateful for who you are and what you have and truly feel it…
Alas, there she was across the back patio. Smiling, waving me over… as if rays of light were beaming from her very soul. As I approached she said, “Uh-oh, what’s wrong?” I loudly inhaled and in my most pretentious, beret-wearing, pinched-nose accent said “MEAN… THEE-UH-TUH PEOPLE…SUCK”.
And though she hadn’t a clue of my encounter, she laughed. Then I laughed. In that single moment, my anguish was stilled. I realized how blessed I was and how ridiculous it would be to get caught up in someone else’s rudeness. I knew that, given a choice, I wouldn’t take back that whistle. It’s who I am. I suddenly felt a sense of pride.
I glanced around the moonlit patio and absorbed the joy of the evening. As if on cue, our gracious hostess approached with a tray of ooey-gooey, chocolate-covered something and asked to “pleeeeeaaase come and talk with the fun girls.”
The three us talked and laughed. The beret and the pinched–nose dame were quickly forgotten. Not because anything had changed, but because I had. That night I let my gratitude shift the moment; it was magical. I was grateful for the moon and its perfect lighting, the fragrant breeze, the ability to laugh at myself and especially for my new friend (still cool as a cucumber even with chocolate all over her teeth).
On the way home, my usually disruptive self-talk turned positive. Whether in Boone, Blowing Rock or the rest of life, there are warm and gracious people who make us feel comfortable. Sure, every now and then there is a beret and a pinched-nose dame, but if you are grateful for who you are and what you have and truly feel it… it is a support and a unique energy unlike any other. Gratitude conquers worry. It conquers something inside of you that ego cannot.
Let your gratitude shift some of your moments, and it will shift your life.