Bing Went the Strings of My Heart

Excerpt from the March 2016 edition of the Barefoot Writer’s Magazine.

Congratulations to the Winner of the

February Barefoot Writing Challenge!

Last month’s Challenge was to write an essay that answered this question:

Tell us about the best date you’ve ever been on, or would like to go on. It can be with

anyone important to you — significant other, kids, friends, relatives, pets — anyone!

We received scores of beautiful submissions. Some talked about love lost and then found, some touched on the bond between children and parents, and some told the story of lovers who were meant to be.

But the essay that won us over shared the story of how a date can be perfect, even if it doesn’t lead to forever.

Congratulations to Judith Blaeske for Winning the February 2016 Barefoot Writing Challenge!

Judith shared a vivid description of the most adventurous date she… or anyone we know… has ever been on. Enjoy her winning submission.


Bing Went the Strings of My Heart

The hide of the lioness, head intact with gleaming fangs bared, sprawled across the sofa back. She stopped me cold, destroying any attempt at a sophisticated entrance.

Tony led me over to her. “She started attacking livestock, so I had to kill her,” he explained, stroking the hide.

That’s how our first weekend date began at Tony’s home in the mountains of central Kenya. I was new to Africa, never mind to dating a professional hunter.

What made that our best date?

I met Tony’s children, William six and Helen eight, home from boarding school. And Wine and Water, the two Rhodesian Ridgebacks, that followed me everywhere.

It was waking up with a fright the first morning to the words, Chai memsahib, only to see Ahmed carefully put a tea tray by my bed. His white robe swirled around his bare ebony feet as he left the room.

That day, I made my way to the veranda and sat on the steps with the dogs before the others came to breakfast. The early morning African sun warmed my face, and I listened to birds greet the day with songs I’d never heard.

After breakfast, we went on a mini safari, riding in a Land Rover that lurched over ruts and growled-up hills until we entered the forest. Tony was in his element, his face animated and relaxed, as he talked about the animals around us and the tribesmen he grew up with who taught him the secrets of the bush. When we reached a small clearing, we clambered down to stretch our legs, and he sniffed the air. Tony announced that Cape buffalo, among the most dangerous animals in Africa, had been there recently. All I smelled was damp vegetation, and I felt a stranger in their company.

That evening, I offered to fix dinner — my special chicken dish — which was received with polite compliments. The old bird was tough, and my spices missing.

The second morning, Tony actually kissed me in front of the children and suggested a picnic, much to the children’s delight. He then wandered away, whistling off-key, leaving us to scrounge in the kitchen to see what treats we could find.

A call on the two-way radio brought everything to a halt.

It was Bing Crosby on his annual safari. A hunter had been hurt, and Bing wondered if Tony would mind breaking his weekend to replace him. Mind? Within two hours, the children and I were in the Rover, along with Tony’s gun bearer, Duncan. The children were deposited at their boarding school, and I was back in Nairobi in record time.

That first date showed me a life with Tony, and it wasn’t mine. But we enjoyed dating for a while anyway. He eventually married a woman raised in Kenya who easily assumed the role of hunter’s wife. I kept traveling, but took wonderful memories with me.

And not every woman can thank Bing Crosby for a best date.

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