“Juh-a-ne? Is this Ja-ne Herlong?” asked the stranger when I answered the phone.
“Yes,” I replied hesitantly.
“Dar’lin, this is Eugenia Smith Edwards Holmes, and we are all her-a at our-ah monthly meeting and would like to ask you to have your-a lovely home on tou-wah to raise money for…” Her accent was as thick as a pot of leftover grits.
“My house … on tou-wah!” was all I heard. Everything would have to be perfect.The magic of the moment was interrupted when my left-brained husband said, “We don’t have any furniture.”
We Had NO Furniture!
Thomas and I were newlyweds and had spent the last two years renovating our old home. We had been given an historic house that had been empty for twenty years. We cut the house in two sections and dragged it across the farm. Ever since we made the investment to renovate, Thomas says, “The house owns us.”
We had been married long enough for him to know that the glazed look on my face was a woman on an unhealthy, expensive mission. The community was coming to see our home, and it had to be fabulous.
For the next several months, all I could think about was the tour.
“Thomas, fix this.”
“Are the steps on the stairs okay?”
“Did you finish painting the bathroom?”
We had our disagreements, but I had my agenda. My heart beat one message: get the house ready.
With two rooms left to decorate, I decided to designate one of them the Christmas room. Why not put a big o’ Christmas tree in it and be done with it? I told Thomas to cut down a tree the size of the one used at Rockefeller Center in mid-town Manhattan. He met the challenge and found a tree with three trunks. The tree literally filled the room. In fact, it was so big that it took three people and a chainsaw to take it down after Christmas—in February.
Wayne to the Rescue!
A local decorator, Wayne, who knew everyone in the community, assured me the other room would look fabulous and told me not to worry about furniture. Two days before the tow-ah, Wayne arrived in a pickup truck filled with beautiful furniture and accessories and backed it up to my front door.
The house was perfect!
The long awaited event arrived, as did the guests. I savored every moment until I heard one tour-ee comment, “Why, isn’t that Josie’s settee?”
“Why, yes,” said another woman. “I believe that lamp and end table belong to Helen.”
“No, that lamp belongs to Virginia because that was our wedding gift to her. But I am positive that chair belongs to Jewel.”
I overheard similar conversations by the locals throughout the afternoon.
Busted. I should have known better. In a small town, everybody knows everybody’s business and what belongs to whom.
After the hoopla died down, I was presented with a large red poinsettia—a thank-you gift for all our hard work. Thomas’s left-brained head said, “It cost us a lot of money for you to have that flower.”
Jane Jenkins Herlong is a Sirius XM Humorist, international best-selling/award-winning author, professional singer, recording artist and award-winning professional speaker.
Jane is a member of the Speaker Hall of Fame and one of the 232 men and women to be awarded this honor including former U.S. President Ronald Reagan and the late General Colin L. Powell. Jane has also achieved the distinction of becoming a Certified Speaking Professional by the National Speakers Association.