Delicious Tale of the Failed One-liner, OKA: Hackett Meet-Cute

Possibly our first picture together

I love the “how we met” stories. They’re often my favorite parts of books, too. Even delicious tales with a failed one-liner are my favorite. But if the guy ends up with the girl in the long run, perhaps the line worked after all?

Once upon a time, I was 18 years old. I met a guy and we fell madly in love. It wasn’t love at first sight. But truthfully, I wish we had been able to draw out the friendship phase. The weeks of anticipation for what if he likes me as much as I like him are simply delicious.

After a month of trying so hard to just be friends we held hands for the first time Zing! and the rest is history.

And this is how we met didn’t meet.

My cousin invited me to play the piano at her wedding. I practiced every afternoon for a month of church camp at WCYC. The kitchen was my home the first two weeks and then I enjoyed two weeks as a camper for my last year of senior camp. There were few things I loved more than camp. And performing. I loved the cabins, the friends, (so many cute boys, just saying), swimming in the creek, singing around a campfire each evening, talking about boys, hanging out with boys, oh, and learning about God and studying the bible . . . with boys. Okay! you get the idea.

No, I wasn’t completely boy crazy . . . but I did enjoy their company. The point is, I had a really fun time my last year of camp, (despite the time I fell off the cliff and didn’t die, but you can read about that story here). My cousin’s wedding was at camp after all the campers had left the last day. I had a great time chilling with my camp friends as a few of them were hired to wash dishes after the wedding.

How I missed the first potential meeting of the love of my life.

I scrubbed two (I mean four) weeks of camp dirt from beneath my fingernails and dressed up in a cute summer dress and played for the 20 minutes before the wedding started. And then I took my seat somewhere off to the side where I couldn’t see anything because I’m only five feet tall.

Afterward, I snuck off to hang out with my camp friends, posed for a few family pictures and enjoyed the evening washing pots and pans.

But now it’s time for the real story. A few days later I was moved into my dorm room at college and had been enjoying freshmen orientation (and meeting lots of new boys that I may or may not have been crazy about. I’m kidding, I was actually spending most of my time with my new bestie Danae and we were, neither one of us, interested in boys. Nope. Especially not the entire team of them that played soccer.) Being a freshman, I was on campus the week before classes started, along with the soccer teams, and a few other groups. Most of the student body turned up for Sunday night communion traditionally held at the church across the street.

I wasn’t looking for a boy, especially not one with a ridiculous one-liner.

On my way out I was feeling excited. Also overwhelmed. Small. Adventurous. A little scared of everything starting up tomorrow, but mostly I was in good spirits. Standing alone, I was looking around at all the groups that had already formed and deciding if I should walk back alone or look for Danae. A boy spoke to me.

He was wearing an extra-large T-shirt (he would easily fit a medium) with an old leather jacket that was a touch too small. The jacket was zipped and he had the appearance of a T-shirt skirt, if you know what I mean. He wore a pair of army pants cut off just below the knee, white tube socks pulled up mid-calf and sturdy working boots. Oh, and did I mention he had a scraggly goatee a good two inches long? Did I just describe the man of your dreams? No? Hmm . . .

This boy dropped his one-liner, with no preamble, “Hey, would you like to go for a ride on my motorcycle?”

I’m sure my eyes grew wide. Taking a small step back, I said, “I don’t even know who you are.” And I walked away.

It wasn’t the one-liner as much as the attire of the one who delivered it.

Riding behind a boy on a motorcycle did sound exciting and adventurous, but I was no dummy. The guy was seriously sketch. I wasn’t about to be kidnapped before college even started.

I scuttled over to my newly married cousin a few feet away, but she only laughed at me. “No, that’s Ben. He’s cool. You want to ride with him.” I did? She made it clear, in no uncertain terms, that I should be hanging out with Ben. Well . . . still. I didn’t think it wise. What if he was actually as weird as he looked?

It was decided we would all go out for a late snack. I rode with my cousin, Ben and a few others met us there, and I rode behind Ben on the motorcycle on the way home. We didn’t speak. It was awkward. But also thrilling.

A few days later I was walking to the town square for the college job fair and he jogged up behind me and said, “Hi.” He followed me around downtown as we wrote our phone numbers and dropped them into the boxes for all the drawings the businesses were offering. We talked, we joked, and I decided this guy was okay. He was flattering. Friendly. Smiled a lot. And he seemed to know everybody. And everybody seemed to smile back at him. Who was this guy? And why was he hanging out with me?

That evening I had a message waiting on my dorm phone. “Hi Tasha, this is Ben. I memorized your number while we were downtown. Since I have yours, I thought it only fair that you have mine. If you ever need a ride somewhere, give me a call.”

True story.

I did need a ride. I worked at the bank about a mile from campus. Normally I carpooled with a girl, but I was on my own next Tuesday. Walking was an option, but I called Ben and asked for a pick-up next Tuesday afternoon . . .

It was weeks before we realized we had missed meeting at camp. He was a groomsman at my cousin’s wedding and we never once noticed each other! Sixteen years later, he is still asking if I want to go for a ride, but now it’s a vehicle that seats the two of us and our four little tagalongs. Given the fact that he always takes out the trash without being asked, and tells me I should keep writing, I forgive him for growing a scraggly beard every now and then.

Do you have a fun “how we met” story? What’s your personal meet-cute?

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book review

A Stage for Harriet Book Review

For those who love a good regency romance, author Mary-Celeste Ricks and her book A Stage for Harriet is for you. To be candid, I just looked up the definition of “Regency Romance.” I had a basic idea that it was historical romance in England. But in case you were also unclear, it is a very specific time and place: 1811-1820 (or so) during the British Regency. We’re talking balls and carriages and communicating with dainty fans and not speaking to someone until you’ve been properly introduced and the hoopla of the social season. And: YES. I do like to read regency romance.

Mary-Celeste Ricks has written a compelling debut novel, A Stage for Harriet. The meet-cute happens right away during the first chapter—my favorite—and I won’t tell you anymore right now because I don’t want to spoil ANYTHING. Truth be told, I refuse to read book blurbs or reviews for books I want to read because I want to start the adventure with no expectations and be pleasantly surprised. If this you, rest assured. I highly endorse A Stage for Harriet and you can grab your copy right here from Kindle for a few bucks or order a hard copy for just a little more. After you’ve read it, let’s chat! Tell me what you thought. You can find me on Instagram @HackettAcademy, reply to any of my newsletter emails, or comment below.

A Stage for Harriet would sit nicely on the shelf next to: Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice, Carla Capshaw’s Second Chance Cinderella, and Siri Mitchell’s She Walks in Beauty (though this is New York’s Gilded Age of 1890, it’s similar).

And Now SPOILER ALERT: A Stage for Harriet Synopsis and Review.

Harriet Shore is only a farmer’s daughter. Like me, you might have have thought this meant her father was actually a farmer—no, no, no. He is a “farmer” because he manages farms and other people who do the work on his land. But he is also a gentleman’s son. Hmm . . . this is fancy regency lingo for, “Miss Harriet is stuck in an odd spot because her father is not lower class. Because he just missed upper class she can’t marry the man of her dreams because their stations aren’t equal.”

But when Stephan, her tree-climbing childhood best friend and dreamy heart throb, is absolutely and totally into her, Harriet takes herself off the table so to speak by becoming a governess in London. Does she want Stephan to chase after her? Does she want him to find someone else? Maybe he’ll decide he doesn’t actually love her and be happier without her? (The horror!)

For the girl who wants to know, “Is he going to kiss her or what?!”

Oh! The kiss! They shared a delicious kiss just days before she left for London and now her head is swimming with the drama of it all. One doesn’t go kissing people they’re not engaged to unless that person is a rake or loose woman. Thank goodness for British society drama to keep the excitement going. She is nearly an exact look alike of a very well-to-do lady who is, er . . . indisposed at the moment. (She’s pregnant, okay. Oh, the scandal!) The Duchess wishes to sweep the whole thing under the rug and insists on hiring Harriet. Her role is to PLAY THE PART of her daughter Virginia until the situation is resolved and Lady Virginia can take her proper place in society again.

This is all well and good until Harriet discovers she actually enjoys playing this part and enjoys the company of so many young men and she enjoys dancing at balls and fine dining . . . But what of Stephan you ask? Well . . . the poor chap has been paying calls on a certain governess in London who is never home. He’s beginning to wonder if she’s avoiding him on purpose when he meets Lady Virginia at a fancy ball. But wait! Lady Virginia, who is much to far above the social ladder to pay him any mind is the exact look-a-like of his Harriet. How can this be?

Miss Harriet Shore playing Lady Virginia does her best to ignore the love of her life, but . . . oh dear. You really ought to read the rest and find out for yourself. I haven’t even touched on the escapades of poor Mr. Brougham whose mother wishes him to court Lady Virginia. You’ll meet dashing Mr. Desford whose charm and company are more exciting than she wishes to admit. And let’s not ignore the dreadful rake who wishes to take Harriet as a mistress.

Yes, I recommend this book.

Mary-Celeste Ricks wrote a fun story that was a great change from the western historical romance streak I’ve been in. There were no rugged cowboys, prairies or shotgun-circuit-preacher-weddings. For sure I didn’t find any homesteads with chickens, but there were plenty of balls, dancing, dark-hallways-leading-to-unoccupied-libraries, and of course, a happily ever after.

Go get yourself a copy and then tell me all about it!

If you enjoy clean historical romance, be sure to keep an eye out for my book coming later this spring, A Bluebird on the Prairie.

Hackett Prairie

This is me

Sometimes I think I’m the bee’s knees. And then I cringe. Who even says “Bee’s knees?!?!”

I do, apparently, except not really. Only when writing the first blog post on my author website. That in itself is so overwhelming I don’t even want to think about it. The first post on my AUTHOR WEBSITE. People are going read this and judge me and wonder about what I write and who I am and what if they read my blog and think I’m some weird kind of girl who uses completely random and old fashioned phrases like, “Bee’s knees.”

Coincidentally, this is me.

Writing is something I’ve been doing since forever. Only wish I hadn’t waited forever to start taking it seriously. One book isn’t enough to get all the kinks out. Word on the street is it can take an author seven books before they really get the hang of it.

My husband once accused me of being a quitter.

On the surface, you may agree with him. Though I took great offense at his accusation. Yes, honey, I “quit” 14 jobs the first five years we were together… but it’s not like that. You have to look at the bigger picture here.

I’m a starter. Not a quitter.

When you begin something new, it’s only natural that not everything else can come along for the ride. Obviously, when I started waiting tables at The Country Kitchen, I wasn’t able to also wait tables at The South Side Grill. Of course, when I started making pizza at Pizza Hut, I stopped waiting tables at The Country Kitchen.

Once I started substitute teaching, I didn’t have time for my work at Pizza Hut. And you can understand that when I started having children, I didn’t teach anymore.

Altering dresses was something I started when we were broke and wanted to pay off debt. It was a great side hustle, but when I started writing… it left precious little time for sewing.

When I had my fourth kid, I started feeling sick and overwhelmed. Therefore, writing was left behind for awhile. (See what I did there? I didn’t quit.)

Love finds a way.

My characters never quit on me. Their story never died. All the dreams and plot twists and excitement of my imaginary world only grew stronger until I started again.

It happened like this:

  1. Realized I had to get the story out or it would claw its way from the inside.
  2. Wrote for 30 minutes a day.
  3. Pandemic
  4. Took advantage of the extra time with the husband working from home.
  5. Finished the manuscript and realized: I CAN DO THIS AND I LOVE IT.

So hey, this is me. I like to start things. Being an author is the start of something great for me. Just imagine how many stories I will start (and finish!).

New characters have already introduced themselves to me before I’ve begun writing their story.

Zeke and Eloise will always have a special place in my heart as my first two main characters. They taught me amazing things. Getting to know them was one of the most interesting things I’ve ever experienced. To have a character that I thought I had created start talking for herself on the page? It’s truly fascinating.

This is one of the reasons I’m not quitting. I can’t wait to see what else these characters have to say. Who knows, maybe one of them will start talking about the bee’s knees… I doubt it… but nothing’s impossible.