It was Saturday and the weather was great. I could smell lilacs when we got out of the car. My boyfriend had suggested we go on a picnic. He brought the food and I picked the location.
I knew just the perfect place. It was one of those hidden places that the rest of the world hadn’t discovered yet. Well, maybe some of them had, but it was on private property so they weren’t allowed there without permission. It belonged to our family friends and they said we could stay as long as we wanted.
We rolled out our picnic blanket on a level grassy area near the boat ramp that sloped into the Illinois River. Songbirds were chirping and calling to one another. Squirrels chased each other in quick spirals up and down the trees. Bobby and I were having such a nice time just admiring the scene and wildlife and the view of the rushing water.
As we started taking the food out of the picnic basket, I was impressed with lunch. Apparently our friends’ pesky springer spaniel was impressed too. He joined us. He stuck his wet nose right between us. His tail wagged so hard and fast that his body swayed with it.
“Go home Cotton! Go home!” I yelled. Cotton backed off a little bit, but the aroma was irresistible. “Get! Don’t you have some Kibbles ‘n Bits somewhere? Go home!” Cotton retreated.
With the dog gone, we could enjoy our lunch. Here was a young man who could cook! I was prepared to eat sandwiches, but he laid out fried chicken and potato salad. He had even made dessert!
“I forgot something in the car,” Bobby said. “I made hors d’oeuvres Be right back.” Wow!
So, I waited patiently and let my thoughts wander to my feelings. I really liked this guy. Suddenly, a warm nuzzling next to my ear startled me. Stupid dog. I met his nose with an elbow.
“Ow!” Uh oh. Bobby’s nose immediately started bleeding.
“I am so sorry!” I felt awful for confusing him with the dog. He held a napkin up to his nose.
“It’s okay. I’ll just go down to the water and wash up.” He made his way down the grassy slope of the boat ramp. I felt just horrible for giving my boyfriend (if he even still wanted to be my boyfriend) a bloody nose!
“I’ll come help you.” I ran after him, not realizing the steepness of the slope. He was right at the edge of the water. This part of the river was not only swift, but deep too. As I approached the bank, I wanted to be comforting and helpful, to make up for mistaking him for a spaniel. I patted him on the back, it was enough to make him lose his precarious footing. He slipped right into the water! He grabbed onto tree branches and roots to keep from being swept downstream. He was safe, but wet. Very, very wet.
All the excitement brought Cotton back. He’d only been gone for five minutes, but wagged his tail like he hadn’t seen us in months. We had to evict him from the picnic all over again before we could start eating.
Apparently Bobby wasn’t mad at me; he laughed about me “pushing him into the river” and teased me, but he kept his distance. We ate and talked until his clothes were dry enough to get in the car.
We drove to the University of Arkansas campus. This was a fun place to go. In the center of the plaza, between the Student Union and Mullin’s Library, was a large fountain, much safer than the Illinois River. Every semester somebody puts soap in the fountain and big mounds of suds foam over the rim. Today it was pure water, as blue as the sky. The breeze blew a spray of cool water into our faces on one side of the fountain. There had been enough water for one day, so we walked toward the library.
There are several layers of steps that climb toward the building. Bobby reached for my hand. I guess he didn’t see anything dangerous or life threatening. It was safe to hold my hand as we went up the stairs. At the top of the stairs was a row of benches. They stretch all the way across the front of the massive library. We walked to the end of the row and I jumped onto the first bench.
It seemed like a fun idea to run along the benches, leaping from one to the next. Bobby ran ahead all the way to the end of the long row. I leapt from one bench to the next, trying to be as graceful as a ballerina. When I got to the last bench, he stood with open arms, ready to catch me. I took my last graceful leap into the air. At the last second, I decided to dramatize my leap by throwing my arms back, arching my back and lifting my knee into an elegant finale. What I actually did was thrust my knee full speed into his solar plexus. He went down gasping for air, but didn't drop me. I realized that I had knocked the wind out of him and I quickly stumbled off and tried to help him up. But apparently a blow to the the solar plexus can cause the diaphragm to spasm, which meant that he was in great pain and couldn’t breathe.
He eventually asked me to marry him. Let’s face it, I was literally a knock out!