Tink was away from home, working on a new drama series for Sony. He was leading the writers’ room, where a group of television scribes gather to brainstorm and “break” stories, which is jargon that means they were laying out story lines for a season before the show starts shooting.
He texted me one day, “Everyone in the writers’ room thinks you’re a character. You’re endlessly entertaining and interesting.”
Since Tink was so homesick, I had been sending daily photos of life on the Rondarosa as well as occasional videos.
One morning while I was sitting on the back porch, writing, I heard a terrible commotion going on with Dew Drop, our dachshund, and Biscuit, our rescue beagle.
They were barking at a half-grown squirrel laying on the ground between them. The little thing was alive but scared to death so I rescued him, put him in a cat crate and nursed him back to health.
On the day I released him back to the woods, Kari, our friend, made a video.
I took the squirrel from the carrier and gave him some motherly advice. “Be good to other little squirrels out there and always be kind to others. Go out and make me proud.”
I set him down on the ground where he bounced around then scampered away.
He was so excited that he ran hard into the side of the pump house and knocked himself out cold. Several seconds later, he came to, jumped up and ran away.
It was pretty funny. Accidentally funny because we couldn’t have planned it.
The moment Tink received the video, he promptly played it for the writers’ room and all of them, a couple who are professional comedy writers, were in the floor laughing.
“Your wife is a real character,” proclaimed the people who are paid to make up interesting characters.
Nothing could have pleased me more. In the South, characters are the delight of our daily living.
Any serious Southerner ascribes to becoming a character, one who will be long remembered when life on earth has ended and one who is often the subject of stories told ‘round the kitchen table, in the church yard and in the barber shops, beauty shops and funeral homes of the South.
My brother-in-law, Rodney, is a character. We tell Rodney stories all the time.
Harriet Woodcock, from my hometown, was a character. Her family owned a drugstore. In later years when I knew her, she always wore her gray hair in a turned under bob with bangs.
She wrote poetry and short stories and was daffy in the most charming, eccentric way that brought me the biggest smile whenever I encountered her. She was a spinster as was Henrietta Estes whose family had owned a department store.
Henrietta, too, favored a simple haircut for her gray hair and wore sensible shoes, skirts and cardigans. She had been a beloved teacher so she adored books.
Because Henrietta had been born into a prominent family, her estate included old, very fine silver. I bought two silver letter openers — one I gifted to my agent — and a small silver mail tray. Every time I pick up the letter opener, my heart smiles with the memory of a rich character.
My friend, Jimbo, from my NASCAR days, is a tremendous story-telling character who is quick of wit and talks with a lisp that is accented heavily by his Richmond, Virginia, upbringing. He tells the story of the night I invited him to join me for a dinner in Talladega along with six others. When the check arrived, I said to an RJ Reynolds executive, “You get the check. I brought the entertainment.”
So now, some Hollywood experts have declared that I am a “real” character. I couldn’t be prouder.
I’ll really know I’ve made it, though, when they start telling stories about me at the funeral home while I’m still alive.
Ronda Rich is the best-selling author of What Southern Women Know About Faith. Visit www.rondarich.com to sign up for her free weekly newsletter.