Baptist Health Care was one of the main sponsors of the Southern Women’s Show 1999 which meant we had a large display area down the center of the convention center. Not ones to do anything halfway, the marketing department went all out on a Jungle Safari theme. Our new mascot for the pediatric unit was a parrot so we designed our booth around it. There was a large tree that was placed in the center with branches going out in all directions, stuffed wild animals everywhere, it looked like a Build a Bear Workshop exploded. Each visitor was given a treasure map and throughout the “jungle”, visitors were to stop at different places and obtain answers to health questions. At the end, there was a treasure chest where they got a plastic cup filled with a fun prize and chocolate gold coins. Pretty fun, huh? I know, interesting but you want me to get to the good stuff. Alright already, here we go……
Thursday was set up day and I was running around like a mad woman when I saw this incredibly gorgeous guy walk by and then he was milling around by our booth. I had not seen him before and did not think he worked for Baptist (although there were 16 hospitals, I did not know EVERYONE). I continued what I was doing and when I turned around he was gone.
So, I did what any 27-year-old single woman looking for a man would do, I went on the prowl, I mean I went looking around at all the other booths to see all the other wonderful displays. Surprisingly (haha, he was a single guy), I found him in the food section. He was wearing a nice shirt, Wranglers and boots, YUM! Left hand check, no ring, woo hoo! I figured out (by following him a bit, I don’t think this was stalking, was it?) that he was with some state parks that had a row of booths right across from ours on one side.
So, I went back to our booth to “work”, planted myself on the side closest to his booth and I waited. Later in the day, I made my move. I went over to his booth to ask about his Park with some highly intelligent questions and some of my sassy remarks I am sure. The game was on! I found out he was the park ranger at one of the parks and usually the Lodge/Restaurant Managers attended these types of things but theirs quit a few days before and he got roped into going (can anybody say God-thing? Let me get an AMEN).
Big Buckaroo was training for a marathon during this time, obsessed with his health, so he would get his blood pressure taken over at one of our stops on the safari and the nurses were oohing and ahhing all over him. So, I had to step it up a notch, I wanted to make sure he noticed me, and in hindsight, how could he not I was flirting like crazy! I could have had a blinking sign on me saying “SWF looking for a great Christian guy who will love me and adore me for the next 60 years” and it would have been more subtle than my flirting antics. Remember, I have to keep it honest here because Big Buckaroo is going to give his side of the story in a few days.
Throughout the weekend I supplied him with never-ending cupfuls of chocolate coins and during a conversation with a large group I looked over and he was looking at me so I winked at him. Not very subtle, I know, but I meant business. This guy was incredibly good looking, I had to know more about him and only had a few days. Time was of the essence!
I did not have to work on Saturday since I was working the morning and on take-down on Sunday. But, how could I sit in my apartment in Harbor Town a mere mile away from the convention center where he was sitting? So, I put on some work-out gear and took a jog ~ well I guess you really can’t call it a jog, it was a jog a bit, stop to catch my breath, walk, sit on a bench for a minute kind of work-out. I really needed to stop by there to see if everything was going alright with our booth, yeah right, I needed to go look at the hottie ranger. I went in, made sure he saw me, said a few quick, highly intelligent, well, probably goofy things to him and left. Hey, I had to jog (walk, skip, etc.) home and it would be getting dark in a few hours.
On Sunday, I returned to the trade show all giddy with my intention of making a lasting impression. I made some small talk earlier in the day, you know asking where he had been to eat in Memphis, how he was enjoying my town, that kind of stuff.
It was time to take down our booth and he came over and offered to help, I made a very intelligent quip like “oh, I can handle it”. I think it could have came out as a roar, you know, I am woman hear me roar. I am sure he could see how capable and confident I was, I could carry heavy boxes just as well as any man, actually, I don’t think he was impressed. O.K. not very smart, but I was VERY sassy back then.
A little while later, he came over to say goodbye. I gave him my card and told him that if he was ever back in Memphis to give me a call and I would take him out to some real Memphis restaurants, not just the tourist spots that he had been to on his trip. He acted very nonchalant about it and said goodbye. He lived hours away, I was thinking that my card might hit the big trash bin on the way out the door.
He walked off toward the door, turned around and smiled and left. Was he walking out of my life? (OK we are married so that did not happen) but what did happen next? How long did it take him to call? Let’s just say I gave up waiting by the phone. Stay tuned.
The Park Wife
Read Chapter 7: The Ranger's Take on Meeting The Park Wife