“Your heart decides who you want in your life. Your behavior decides who will stay in your life.”
— Anonymous quote
Danielle entered our lives during what was kind of a dark time for the household. The over-the-top young Brit was full of life and as entertaining as anyone you could find. Hand her a glass of wine or two and she will be the life of the party. When friends are over who have met her, they often request her presence. As she is so oft to point out when I seem perplexed about anything, “I am British!” And boy is she ever!
It’s often serendipitous just how people become a part of your life. Cameron and I made friends with a waitress/bartender named Alanna. Danielle just happened to be Alanna’s best friend. Both would frequent The Barrel House. Cameron liked to sing at The Barrel House on Karaoke Night.
The next thing you know, this real-life sitcom character appeared at my door, looking for a room to rent. And to be honest, she immediately livened up the place. Then one day, she tells me her mum, granddad and grand mum are coming to visit. The next thing you know, I have a whole family of Brits that became a part of my life.
I told part of the story about Bob and Jan Munday along with Karen Rummery-Blackford coming on their first trip to America to visit Danielle. Bob was such a trooper as he was battling some health issues, but honestly, I had a hard time keeping up with his energy level. Without getting too personal, Danielle never knew her father, so their relationship is much more like that of a father and daughter.
Jan and Karen were always the most pleasant of company. Karen has food allergies and has to eat food that is gluten-free, dairy-free, and without olive oil or being cooked in eggs. As one can imagine, ordering off the menu was not an option. Our pre-meal game plans rivaled that of an NFL coach.
Dining in different restaurants seemed to always be a highlight of the day for the trio. I had not drunk a beer in a while, but Bob and I usually shared a cold draft before most meals. He seemed to like a variety, while I was my usually boring Miller Lite draft self. The ladies had a taste for wine. My only culinary regret was that I never found Jan the perfect chicken fajitas.
Thanks to Leah Hack and Sheryl Thompson, who secured us some passes courtesy of Greg Jones Home Inspection, we spent a night in the Turf Club at Churchill Downs. Bob started out betting little $2 bets. After sitting with me around the third race, we were discussing the finer points of multiple horse exacta and trifecta boxes and such. I was quite surprised what with the beer drinking and gambling and all that Jan wasn’t separating Bob from me as a bad influence on his distinguished proper British manner.
An old friend, Tom Sobel, whom I always must give credit to for bringing the comedy club venue to Louisville, arranged for my whole troop to be guests at the Comedy By The Bridge night in Jeffersonville at the Sheraton. Knowing the often subtle difference between American and British humor, I was curious to get their review of a night of American stand-up.
Comedians Steve Hofstetter and Jarret Berenstein were trying out material for their nationwide tour before opening in Chicago. They along with comedy writer and club impresario Vernon Thompson were unbelievably gracious pre-show hosts, sharing conversation and photos with the group. I want to do a profile on Vernon in a column, as we discussed briefly something I have always wanted to do, which is to write and perform a live comedy set. I am sure that will take all the courage I can ever muster and couple shots of the really good stuff.
As with all good things, my time with Bob, Jan, and Karen ended much too soon. The night before their departure, I had a farewell reception at my house and invited many of the people they had met. It was bittersweet for all. Danielle posted a picture of granddad where she was kissing him on the cheek and I commented that he had the most pleasant and satisfied smile I believe I have ever seen. She told me later that after the picture was taken, he took out a handkerchief and wiped his eyes a bit. I guess so much for that stuffy British stereotype.
The gift that was given to me by this family includes memories and affections that will last a lifetime. I have always known that when you travel anywhere, the places you experience and the people you meet are forever a part of you. I know now that the reverse is true as well. On the Sunday before they were to depart, Bob, Jan and I enjoyed a Belle of Louisville sightseeing cruise.
As we were seated just prior to departure, Bob asked Jan to get something from her purse. She handed me the badge that he wore on his policeman’s cap and one of his lapel pins. I immediately took out my cell phone telling Bob I wanted to take a picture of them.
“You don’t have to take a picture. I am giving them to you!”
— Lindon Dodd is a freelance writer who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.