I was a painfully shy child. If you’re my friend, you might find this hard to believe, because I have no problem talking … once I know you. Still, every now and then, the social anxiety takes control of my brain, tongue, and body. Like making small talk—that’s hard for me.
My husband and I spent our honeymoon in the small Southern town of Natchez, Mississippi. We wanted a low key time to hang out and relax. Our bed and breakfast, The Briars, was an antebellum home situated on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River.
During the Civil War, the fires and destruction that ruined most other Mississippi towns skipped Natchez, therefore it retains beautiful examples of antebellum architecture. Not only that, you can revel in the view of the river, ride a horse-drawn carriage, and discover the abundant antique shops and good eats. If you’re lucky, you can get a ticket in November to the elaborate Angels on the Bluff Cemetery Tour, where actors play the part of the deceased and give a live history lesson.
All that said, we enjoyed Natchez enough to return for a few anniversaries over the past twenty-something years. (We didn’t get far from our kids very often.) On one of these occasions, I made reservations to eat at a mansion. Excited, we arrived to find other couples waiting in a side room, a sort-of den, eating hors d’oeuvres. That was fine.
But then—a door opened, giving us a peek into the dining room—one long table where all the guests would sit. Together.
Immediately my anticipation of the romantic dinner tanked and my anxiety spiked. I'd have to talk to strangers on my anniversary. I nudged my husband and whispered, “Let’s sneak out and go somewhere else.”
He’s probably one of the most introverted engineers you could meet. He said no. We had a reservation, and he was eating there.
It became one of those stories we laugh about, or rather he makes fun of me about. Blundering through with my nervous chatter, I survived.
We dined on delicious gourmet food with lovely people I don’t remember.
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Under the Southern Sun
Janet W. Ferguson