The pressure was on. I appeared to be much more confident than I actually was, but there I was in the middle of the field, with Robin Hood and his merry men watching me.
Oh, here comes that smile again; let me back up and explain.
After nearly two years and an incredible amount of hard work and outright fun, I have finished writing a book. It is such a feeling of accomplishment; and what unique experiences I’ve had along the way. But there is one in particular that brings a smile to my face every time I think of it.
I recently made a trip to England to meet with my co-writer. Yes, I know, such a burden to have to go, but recordings had to be made, pictures had to be taken and I had to spend some much-needed time with a dear friend.
I stayed with a lovely family in the Village of Bitton, and was invited to work the book stall at the St. Mary’s church fete. The big event was to be on Saturday, which made it necessary for me to have a math lesson the night before – pounds, pence, etc. I was soon prepared to sell books to unsuspecting children.
St. Mary’s is 1,000 years old. Its stone walls, magnificent bell tower and proud parishioners welcomed me with all the charm and warmth of a comfortable memory. The field was alive with tents, dancers, games, medieval costumes, flags and a castle facade.
Children were already picking through the bins of books as I arrived. I jumped right into sales mode. “That’ll be a dollar-fifty, honey.” A look of total confusion came over the little girl’s face. Not only had I forgotten about the one pound-fifty lesson, but for the first time in my life, I was the one with the accent. She took pity on me, paid and ran off with her carefully chosen purchase.
On a short break in the action, I wandered around. The air was filled with English chatter, and laughter, which sounds the same in any country. That’s when the castle facade caught my eye. Men dressed in period costumes (actually looking like Robin Hood) stood with arrows in hand, waiting for customers. I took the bait.
“I’ll give it a try,” I said, reaching for a bow. Sensing my accent, the man laughed and insisted that I would need an American flat bow instead of the round bow he was holding. I assured him the round bow would do just fine. He gave me a brief demonstration; I was to try to get the arrow through the castle door, the big arched windows or the tall, skinny opening called an arrow slit. Three tries for a pound.
All the merry men were watching, carefully trying to disguise their snickers as I drew the first arrow back. It landed on the ground two inches from the door. The second arrow hit the wall between two windows; at least it was closer. I took the third arrow, carefully aimed, pulled it back and let it fly. I actually heard it whiz as it pierced the air and went straight through the arrow slit. Triumphantly, I let out a scream and Robin Hood stood silent.
It was a few seconds before he spoke, but in a loud voice he bellowed, “May I have your attention! It has become clear to me why we lost the War for Independence. This American is bloody good!” A cheer went up across the land and a smile came up across my face.
That smile still shows up every once in a while. I just love it when that happens.