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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

My time with Dixie
























My husband told me the news about Dixie after reading it in the morning paper.  We looked at each other and we both sighed.  I'm sure he knew I would be saddened by the news but I'm sure he was too.  You see we had a first hand experience with Dixie and her husband Hal Holbrook.  And ever since that experience I have continued to quote Dixie or mimic her sexy sultry voice time and time again.  Rob would even call me Dixie and I would call him Hal whenever I wanted him to do something.  We would always laugh.  It became part of us in a way.  I'll explain.
Two and a half years ago I had the opportunity to go to Nashville again.  I say again because I have been there 8 times and it is and will continue to be my home away from home.  I am obsessed with Nashville and with the south in general.  Especially southern women and southern accents, southern food, I think you get where I'm going with this.
Anywho, we were coming home from spending an evening at a fan club event with Martina McBride (another of my favorite southern women, along with Sela Ward and Jaclyn Smith)
We were on our way back and boarded a tiny tiny plane.  I had never been on such a tiny plane before and for those of you who know me, you know I detest flying.  Well, my husband and I sat in the two seat side on the right.  Rob at the window seat and me on the aisle.  If you can call it an aisle.  It was the width of my hips.  On the left was a single row of seats along the windows.
Our usual routine when we fly is, my husband takes out his reading material which usually consists of 80 golf magazines and me, well, I sit back and pray.  I move around in my chair making sure that it's not broken, check the seatbelt three or four times and make eye contact with the emergency exits.  That is after I lean over and inspect the cockpit and make sure there is no alcohol visible of any kind.  (Hee Hee)
The flight was empty, pretty much, maybe there were 12 people on the darn thing.  As I sat back I saw this older gentleman in a tweed jacket with white lovely hair sit in the seat on the left, one behind me.  I caught just barely a glimpse of him before I saw his beautiful wife enter and take the seat next to me.  She had porcelain white skin and black wavy hair up to her neck in curls.  She wore dark large Jackie O sunglasses and had on jeans.  She was carrying a laptop computer and immediately took it out.  I remember staring at her skin and thinking to myself, wow this woman is striking.  Before I could sit back and Rob could finish his first golf magazine the woman took of her glasses to expose her clean, no make up face, flawless complection.   She leaned over to her husband and said  "Hal  (in a low sultry voice that I immediately recognized from being a Designing Women fan from the 80's)  we are going to be late.  We should have checked with the hotel."
I gasped and knew immediately who she was, Miss Dixie Carter.
I leaned over immediately to my husband  (Can you say Lucy and Ricky)  I didn't have to say anything.  He already knew and gave me a look like "Oh no you're not going to embarrass me are you?"
For the Record, I've never embarrassed my husband whenever I have been around celebrities. I have always kept my cool.  But he knows that I do not have a problem speaking to them.  That's why he panicked.
I sat and watched as Dixie played with her computer and checked her cell phone for messages.  That's when the pilot announced, "Due to an increase in outgoing flights, we will be detained for 25 minutes before we take off.
Dixie quickly turned to her husband.  "Hal, can you believe this!  I have to call Mary Dixie.  (Mary Dixie, whom I later learned, was Dixies daughter)
Hal responded: "Just tell her if they can have housekeeping ready to press my suit.
"I told you, we should have had that done before hand Hal." (I can do this impersonation to a T.  If I do say so myself)
Then she proceeded to make a phone call on her cell to her daughter.  Honestly, this was exactly what she said.  I know because I have re-enacted this over and over.
Speaking into her phone on her daughter's voice mail:  "HHHHeLLLO  Mary Dixxxie, this is MMMAMA!!!  We have been deeetainnned.   We will call you the mminutte we arrive.  I love you darlin."
Now is that the south or what?  I was in southern utopia having just spent two days in Nashville and now being treated to this entertainment.  Fantastic.  I wasn't even scared to fly.  Had even forgotten that I was on the airplane.  This was a story to tell for years.  Look I'm blogging about it!
After a few minutes of Dixie playing with her computer, turning off her computer, checking her skin on her compact, checking her cell phone and then taking off her shoes and stretching her bare feet which I thought looked longer than mine if that's possible, I noticed that Dixie was fiddling with her computer.  Now this flight had no overhead compartments.  The space under her feet was minimal.  Mine on the other hand was roomy.  She kept looking around and turning around and trying to figure out where to put it.
"Hal!"
I don't know why Hal didn't answer but she said it again."Hal!"
He leaned over and I remember looking at him and thinking that he looked very old because his eyes were glazed over a bit cloudy.  Dixie continued. . . "Hal, I have no room under my chair to put my commmputer. Where shall I put it?"  (Dixie tends to stress certain letters and hold others with her southern drawl.) Hal replied, "I don't know Dixie, I barely have room myself."
That's when I got an idea?  Are you thinking what I'm thinking?  Yep.  Simultaneously, as my body leaned forward my husband's hand tugged at my wrist telling me in the silent married way couples discreetly speak to one another using hand signals or tugs, don't!
Some how he knew what I was about to do.  But I didn't care.
"Excuse me."  I said in a quiet voice to Dixie.  She turned and starred at me with those huge almond amazing brown eyes.  "Yes."
"Would you like to put your computer below my seat?  I have plenty of room."
She looked down beneath my seat and saw that I did have plenty of room.
"Are you sure?" She said with a smile from ear to ear.
"Of course I am.  That would be fine."
"You are a doll.  Thank you."  She said as she stood up and placed her computer that was in a felt bag that reminded me of one  of my Kate Spade felt bag holders.  I'm sure it was the same.  Not intended for a computer.  It had drawstrings on it.
After she bent over and placed it under my seat she sat down, leaned over and grabbed my wrist and said  "Thank you ever so much."
I had to, I just had to.  Rob did not even raise his head from his 2nd golf magazine (snore).
I said in a whisper as I leaned over to her.  "I'm a fan of your work."
She looked and smiled at me.

Now oddly enough a friend/kitchen designer whom I became friends with, Kristen Greaves, had told me quite some time ago her relation to Hal Holbrook and Dixie Carter.  Her mother and Hal are cousins.  They have been to numerous family gatherings in the past and have been with Hal and Dixie.
So I had to tell her this right?

I said, "I have a friend named Kristin whose Mother, whom I don't know her last name, is a cousin of your husband Hal's."
"Really."  She said and immediately turned to her husband and said this twice.  ( I guess he has a hearing problem)
"Hal, she says she has a friend whose mother is a KKKKKIINNNNN to you."  He asked me who she was and I told her the name but it was not the mother's maiden name that I knew so that was useless.
I thought that would be the end of our conversation because after all, I really didn't have any more info about his kin so I sat back in my seat.  To my surprise Dixie leaned over and said, "Do you live in Nashville?"
I told her where I lived and what I was doing in Nashville.  I asked her where she was going since we were flying to Newark I guessed her destination was NY.
She said Hal was presenting that night at the TONY Awards and they were meeting her daughter Mary Dixie and her husband for dinner beforehand.  But she proceeded to tell me how she was nervous because the flight was delayed and now they were going to miss dinner and probably not have time to press Hal's suit.  I thought "how cool is this that Dixie Carter is telling me private information."
We sat back in our seats and listened to announcements that we were next to take off.  The rest of the flight, Dixie sat in her seat with a black eye mask and slept for the hour we were in the air.  I sat feeling excited about my experience.
When we landed they announced that it would be a few minutes before we could step off the plane.  Dixie stood up and grabbed her computer.  Put her jacket on and then stood facing me by my seat while Hal stood behind her.  Rob's face still in golf magazine 14.
She then said this.  (Honestly)  "You know, you remind me of my daughter Mary Dixie."  She then turned to Hal and said "Doesn't she Hal?"  He nodded and said "Yes, especially the smile."
She smiled back and said you do, you really do, even the hair and your eyes.  (AHHHHHHH! How cool was that!)
I asked. "So are you working on any new projects that you can tell me?"  She said, "No, I wish, but no, not right now." (That year she got a part on a law show on television which I forgot the name of and then Desperate House wives, along with a lifetime movie.)
I had heard that Sela Ward was working on a sit com about southern women.  I told her about it and she lit up.
I then said, "Well, I hope you get something great soon, and I'll pray that you get to the hotel on time."
She smiled and then looked at Hal and said, "We are going to have to race to make it Hal."
Then she looked at me and Rob who was looking at her and smiling but quiet.  She said, "Well dear, it was lovely meeting you and I hope that I will someday soon, meet you again.   It was a pleasure. "
She then grabbed my hand and smiled and then waved with the other.  Hal followed her and smiled too.
I turned to Rob and I was speechless.  He looked at me and smiled (thinking Wow, she did it again huh.)
As we came off the flight Hal and Dixie were standing outside waiting for his suit.  She was shivering because it was cold.  She looked at us lovingly and kissed her hand and as if sending her love.
I shall never forget that experience.  Maybe she is telling my dad about it right now.  Hee Hee.

5 comments:

shannon said...

That's one AWESOME story, Lee!
I used to be such a huge fan of Designing Women...she was a class act!

I know Kristin! She just designed our kitchen!! I adore her!!!!
Unfortunately, due to this economy, we weren't able to get financing through the bank because they appraised our house for lower than its value! :( grrrrrrrrr
Oh well...at least when we finally get to the point of being able to make it a reality, we'll have one smokin' hot kitchen, thanks to Kristin--

I never did get you e-mailed back the other day about the quotes...if you go onto Goodreads, there is a place where you can view thousands of quotes and select them to be posted on your blog...Susan's daughter, Michelle, was the one who told me how to do that...

Alexie said...

I can't believe I have never heard this story! It is great and you are a natural storyteller. Your novel will be amazing. Just had this picture of Ramon in heaven with Dixie. Him with his Spanish accent and her with her Southern drawl. That's two good looking people up in heaven. Better not tell Helen ;).

Denise said...

I could hear her voice as I read your account. What a fun experience!

Susan said...

The perfect bedtime story! I can just see the entire thing in my mind. And you are a southern bell in my book.

I think it's a pretty big party in the eternitys. I think there is plenty of opportunity for cake baking, eating and chatting.

Cute story. Cute friend.

Dirt Princess said...

New follower here....my mom told me about your blog. She doesn't blog, she just reads. I myself am a Dixie fan. Matter of fact I am going as Mrs. Julia Sugerbaker for Halloween. I loved that show gorwing up. I am a interior designer, and that was my dream to have an old house in Mobile, with my friends and design!!! I would LOOOVE to name my unborn child (I don't have any yet) Dixie. But living in the South...there are too many dogs named Dixie and when I tell people I want to name my child that they always says "My cousin had a dog named Dixie"...sigh. So I'm on the fence about that one! LOL!!! Love your blog :-)