Listen here to Mama Knows Best by Third Place Contest winner Carrie Cox! Or on your favorite podcast app! Or read it below!
Mama Knows Best by Carrie Cox
My best friend Liz and I parked outside Mississippi College to watch their men’s soccer game. Our friend Bo had just made the team and we wanted to support him. Plus, Liz had a humongous crush on him.
It was hot and humid, so we sat behind the goal on the hill under the shade.
During the game, Liz turned to me and said, “Do you see #11?”
I quickly answered, “Yep. He’s good.”
“He’s fine as wine,” she said with eyebrows up.
I chuckled and wondered if she would think the same if we saw him up close. We rarely agreed on much of anything, especially boys.
After the game ended, we decided to wait on Bo to congratulate him and say hi…you know, just to be polite. We hoped he wouldn’t have plans that night so we could hang out.
While we waited, I noticed one of the players shooting the ball into the goal, retrieving it, dribbling around and then shooting again. It was #11 and although I couldn’t tell what color his eyes were from that distance, he definitely was cute.
What impressed me most, besides his legs and spiky, black hair was this:
He had just played an entire ninety minutes and loved the game so much that he didn’t want to stop. I liked that passion, that playfulness.
Bo walked up the hill and while I stood back to let Liz “do her thing,”
I noticed another player walking behind him. He stopped to talk to some friends. “Oh my goodness, is that?…Yes! It’s #11!” I played it cool and looked down at my shoes, acting like my shoelaces needed re-tying. After that, I started rummaging through my purse for something I needed, like a chill pill. I opted for my sunglasses. That way, I could have a looksie without him knowing.
“Summer sky, baby blue eyes! Good googly-manoogly, is he ever cute?!”
I came out of my trance when I noticed Liz getting fidgety.
“So, what do y’all have going on tonight? Any plans?” Bo finally asked.
Liz looked back at me and gave me that “look” before she replied,
“Um, yeah, we’ve got…that thing. What time does that start again, CiCi?”
This whole, “hard to get” strategy had been going on for a couple semesters and while I encouraged it in the beginning, to be honest, I was getting tired of it.
I grabbed my phone and pretended to look at it as I answered.
“Um, let me see. 5 o’clock.”
Bo suggested we all go out to eat. Liz, of course, made it look like our plans were set in stone. I knew her though.
Any minute now, she’d have a change of heart. And she did.
“Oh! You know what? I think that thing is at 4, CiCi. We better head back! Bo, we’ll text you if we can make it to dinner.”
Bo obliged and told us he’d be waiting on a text. I wanted to wink at him to let him know she wasn’t as hard as she put on, but I knew he already knew.
As we slowly walked to the car because there was no such thing as our “5 o’clock thing,” I asked Liz if she saw #11 when he walked up the hill. She said no and asked if he was as cute close up.
“Cuter. Waaaaay cuter.”
“Hmm. I’d probably change my mind then.” We both laughed because it was probably true.
Later that afternoon, Liz’s alarm went off on her phone, reminding her it was time to let Bo know we were available after all.
Us girls took a while getting ready that night. There was a lot of effort put into our “effortless look.” There was nothing we could do about our soccer tans, but at least we gave attention to as much as we were able in hopes that it wouldn’t look like we tried at all.
When Bo sent Liz a text saying that he and his friends were in the lobby. She set her alarm again. Liz announced that he brought his roommate and another buddy. All the girls were excited to see if they would be as cute as we all agreed Bo was.
“We’ll make them wait “7 minutes.”
“But then they’ll think we’re primping.”
“Oh! Yeah, let’s go in 2 minutes. We don’t want to look too eager. I’m not about to let Bo think we were waiting on him!”
I rolled my eyes and laughed. It wasn’t long ago I was playing by the same rules. We carefully set our own boundaries of getting and keeping a boyfriend. To others, it was a classic game of playing hard to get, but to us, it was pure brilliance, a fool proof foundation in starting a lasting relationship.
We were constantly “busy.”
We had a “BIG TEST” to study for every night.
When in doubt, we were sick, but NEVER due to our period. We were above PMS.
Our favorite was the times we said we had to “run” or “work out.” I personally, never used this one, but this was Liz’s go-to. My go-to was taking a walk, finding a bench and just sitting and thinking or writing.
We all walked out to the lobby to find Bo and his buddy, Andy, chatting with Veronica. Everyone called her Ronni even though she hated it. Ronni bolted out our dorm room door the second she heard Bo arrived and that he brought friends.
Liz and I moseyed down the hallway into the dorm lobby. We smiled, but not too wide. We walked, but not too fast.
While we finished meetin’ & greetin’, I noticed Bo’s roommate was standing by the lobby doors, with his back to us. He was on the phone. My first thought was, “rude.” But then, the idealist in me convinced me that he was talking to his mother or sister or pastor. A couple minutes passed, and he hung up and turned around.
- MY. MERCY.
It’s him. It’s #11. #11 is Bo’s roommate???
If I felt any happier, I’d drop my harp plumb through the cloud.
While I was trying NOT to stare, somehow, someway, a sort of receiving line developed as all the girls wanted to meet Bo’s infamous roommate.
“Hi! I’m Rosie! So, you’re the lucky guy who gets to spend every night with Doug, huh?”
Rosie always said what everyone was thinking, but she managed to do it in a cute, endearing sort of way.
#11 chuckled, said, “Yep, that’s me!” and moved on to meet Liz.
In true ROTC fashion, Liz stuck her hand out which was code for “I DO NOT WANT TO HUG YOU.” She felt strongly that this came across very subtle even when we tried to explain to her that people got her point loud and clear.
“Hello. I’m Liz. Great game today. I liked the effort and hustle.” She smiled, but I knew she was only trying to make Bo jealous.
“Well, I appreciate that. Thanks! ”
He wasn’t finished talking when Ronni butted in and said, “heyyyyyy, is that an accent I hear? Wait a minute. Lemme guess. I’m reaaaallly good at this….hmmmmm …..I’m gonna go wiiiiiiith……………..Australia?”
Everyone was laughing. Even Ronni.
“Close. Hattiesburg.” His smile could cause an avalanche.
Hattiesburg was a little country town in Mississippi. He most definitely was NOT from Hattiesburg.
He stepped in front of me. I took a deep breath before his eyes met mine.
“Hey, I’m CiCi. What part of England?” I made sure to smile, but not too wide or else my lips may quiver. That would be attractive.
“Hmm, fair played, you. I grew up near London. I’m Pete. Nice to meet you.”
“Nice to meet you, too” I said with a smile. I was extremely proud of myself. If I could have high-fived someone I would have, but Liz’s wink told me we would celebrate my victory later.
I can’t really remember the drive to the restaurant. Can’t imagine where my mind was.
Couldn’t tell you what I ordered or where I sat. I can’t even remember how we ended up at my parents’ house afterwards. I’m sure someone mentioned dessert and I probably offered the endless supply of ice-cream that my Mama always had in the freezer. So, off we went for ice cream at Mama’s house.
All of my friends knew and loved my Mama, affectionately called Mama Mac.
“And what was your name again, Darlin’?” She looked at Pete.
“Pete. Pete Cox,” he answered with a nod and a smile.
“And where are you from, baby?”
“Uhh…Hattiesburg,” he winked to his buddies.
Everyone laughed. I chuckled out of politeness because Mama’s countenance had me on edge.
“You’re NOT from Hattiesburg and I have a feeling you’re from a place MUCH further away by the sounds of that accent, Bud.”
Oh no. She said ‘Bud.’ (pronounced: buuuuuuuuuud) I gulped and took a deep breath.
After everyone stopped giggling, Pete looked at her and said, “I’m from England.”
“Yes, ma’am. England.” I could tell he wasn’t used to saying ‘yes ma’am’ and I appreciated that effort…especially since it was my Mama he was talkin’ to.
And then the scariest thing happened.
She didn’t say anything.
She just stared at him. Smiled and stared.
And JUST when it barely began to feel ever so slightly awkward, she SLOWLY nodded and softly responded with a soft, “England. That’s nice.”
She turned to me, standing to the left of her. My ice cream instantly melted.
She was wearing the same smile and her wheels were turning more than ever.
I nervously asked, “ma’am?”
She remained steady. Unwavering. Same smile. Same response.
I was mortified and hurriedly rushed her into the kitchen for some made up crisis that only she and I had to handle immediately.
“MAMA! WHAT was that all about?”
“Don’t you give me that bologna, Cecilia Catherine McMillan.”
First name. AND last name. She’s madder than a hornet.
“Mama, seriously. What do you mean by ‘no?’
“I mean exactly what I said. NOOOO. Don’t pretend like you haven’t noticed those summer sky blue eyes and thick, dark hair and charming smile with that accent. No. I’m not letting that dude sweep my baby girl across the Atlantic Ocean! No. And you better hear me, my little Dumplin’, no.”
My eyes were wide. I looked down and then back up to her still staring at me with a gentle yet firm smile.
“Mama, I don’t know what yo—“
“Dumplin’?…….No.” She kept smiling.
“Well, I couldn’t have even told you his eyes were blu—-“
And that was it. She knew he was the one for me the moment she met him. Mama truly knows best.
You can learn more about Carrie by visiting her blog at www.yetbelieving.wordpress.com
Check out our new tool for helping parents navigate “the talk.” You can find it here!