Many people believe life is too short not to enjoy dessert first, so here's the sweet ending to this blog:
Tenley's and my trip to Charleston occurred primarily so that I could run the Cooper River Bridge Run with my sister-in-law Laurie to celebrate Laurie's 40th birthday. Tenley had come along, partially to help my brother-in-law Pat wrangle Riley (23 months) and Peyton (10 months) as Zane played his first t-ball game while Laurie and I ran.
Tenley saw an advertisement for "Aisle Style," an exhibit of 150 years of wedding history at the Charleston Museum, and we decided to go there for the afternoon after our morning of running (me over a bridge, her after little girls). Somewhere along the line, Tenley started fantasizing about red velvet cake and I breezily said, "gee we should be able to find that in downtown Charleston."
The afternoon in downtown Charleston got off to a rocky mother-daughter start. I was especially pleased that we were doing something quasi-educational instead of blatantly materialistic, especially since had I squeezed this trip into the family budget with a definite "bare-bones" mindset. Before we even saw the first wedding dress, Tenley laid eyes on the coffee table book "Southern Weddings," and declared that she wanted it. We proceeded to enjoy "Aisle Style," and cruised briefly through the Museum's other exhibits, and were on our way out of the museum to walk around downtown when the book issue came up again. The problem: the $30 book did not meet my definition of "bare bones," especially when I am a pro at finding bargain books; I would hate to spend $30 just to find this book for $12.95 at a remainder table somewhere. When I said as much, Tenley's response was, "well, then I don't want it anymore." For about five minutes the afternoon's entire karma hung in the balance. My speech equating the cost of the book with the cost of a tank of gas to get us back to Tallahassee didn't really do much to improve things. I had forgotten the intense allure shopping holds for Tenley; "browsing" without buying holds zero logic or appeal.
But we were already downtown, and still on the red velvet hunt, so we decided to keep going. We strolled through the downtown market, where we have had bargain luck before, and in the shops in the vicinity of the market. I checked out every street cafe menu, with not a morsel of red velvet cake in sight. When Tenley was hungry we ate at a Subway (not a lot of local flavor there!). She found a dress that she thought would be awesome for the 8th grade dance, and I was able to rationalize that expenditure as slightly less offensive to my "bare bones" plan, but she decided it wasn't just right. That one little glimmer of retail hope did perk her up, though! As 6:00 approached and we needed to head back to Pat and Laurie's house, we poked in a few more places, the last being Boutique Henrieta. I asked the gentleman behind the counter a) if I was headed the right direction for my parking lot at the intersection of Church and Cumberland Streets (yes), and b) if he knew of any place nearby that served red velvet cake.
I wish I could bottle the "desire to help the customer" that Joseph showed. He said he didn't know, but that he would make a phone call. The first phone call led to a place that did not serve red velvet cake. At some point, someone suggested a local grocery store, the same one my sister in law had recommended. I'm sure Harris Teeter's red velvet cake is good, but we ultimately ended up with GREAT! Joe decided to call Jestine's, and they asked if red velvet cupcakes would do (answer: YES!). Apparently the cupcakes are actually sold at an establishment next door to Jestine's, which had closed at 5 p.m., but Leigh at Jestine's said if we would come down she would set us up. I started talking to Joe about my penchant for blogging about people who treat customers right (even when they aren't buying anything!), and he and I had about a five minute conversation packing in 30 minutes worth of good books, good software, and how doing the right thing usually comes back to you, along with directions to Jestine's, and Tenley and I were off.
When we arrived at Jestine's, we were confused by the line of 30 people snaking out the door. Was the restaurant not yet open for dinner? How were we supposed to get in? I realized these were all people waiting to eat, since there was no indoor waiting area. I was a woman on a mission, so I walked on in (those 30 people loved that) and looked for Leigh, who happened to be the first person I approached. She promised to go to the mysterious "next door," said the cupcakes were $2 each and she thought there were six available. I told her I'd take what they had but I didn't need more than six. She invited me to sit down and, despite how slammed the restaurant was, asked if I wanted something to drink. I asked if Tenley could come in and she said she could (those 30 people loved that just as much as when I had brazenly walked in!). Lo and behold, Leigh provided us with a box of four beautiful red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and technicolor sprinkles! We slunk out past the hungry 30 and worked our way back to our car. It's a miracle we didn't drop our treasure sneaking peeks and trying to get the box closed again!
Once we were in the car, it was inevitable we would consume cupcakes before we went anywhere! I was still fiddling with the GPS when Tenley ate her cupcake. "You're gonna die," she teased ......... and that's how a day that started 200 feet above the Cooper River also ended on a high note.
Thank you, Joseph, for mapping it all out for us, and Leigh for "putting the icing on the cake"!
I'll "run" into you next week, readers.