When my husband and I started dating, I soon found that his family belonged to a large, warm, fun social circle. There were four or five couples who had all married and had kids around the same time, and over the years birthdays and holidays were celebrated together, vacations were taken together, and milestones in various lives were observed together in this crowd.
Kip was one of the moms. At first glance she might have seemed out of place in the context of our island customs, because she was from the Deep South; she had the most corn-poney South Carolina accent I’ve ever heard and a good many southern belle mannerisms to go along with it. But oh, the charm, and the style, and the warmth. She was anything but out of place.
The first time I met Kip was at some holiday party or other, and my mother-in-law pulled me over to her and asked, “Kip, have you met B’s fiancee?” And she grinned at me and trilled, “No, but I want to!” Only it sounded like: “Ah won’t tew!” — and “won’t” had two syllables. And I’ll tell you, no other perfect stranger has ever made me feel so special, before or since.
And the way it made me feel is why, whenever someone asks me if I’ve ever met some other new person, I try to remember to say, “No, but I want to!” Only without the accent, because I could never pull that off.