Bridge your social plans with caution

“Let’s go! The bridge is clear!” my Aunt Toogie hollered, descending the stairs two at a time.
I dropped my fork, which hit my breakfast plate and ricocheted off the edge of the counter and onto the floor. I didn’t slow down to pick it up. With no time to spare, I headed for the back door as I grabbed my car keys and sunglasses.
“I’m going to change shoes,” my lovely wife, Grace, proclaimed.
“No time!” Toogie interrupted. “Waze says the bridge is clear and you know that won’t last for long. Snag your purse and let’s hightail it, pronto!”
Toogie has become a sharp student of traffic patterns on the Wando River Bridge. As most Daniel Islanders know, the traffic on the cursed bridge dictates how long it will take to drive to and from Mount Pleasant or whether one dares go at all. From 7 a.m. to close to 9 a.m.,
the eastbound traffic is heavy with morning commuters. Then around nine there is a momentary window when the traffic eases. This is when you need to drop everything and head out before the dreaded trucks begin to fill the roadway around 9:30 a.m. By 10 a.m. the
highway is a crawl as the trucks slowly lumber to the Wando Welch Terminal much like a herd of elephants making the migration from northern Kenya to the Ewaso Nyiro River during the dry season. The only difference is the Kenyan elephants move only twice a year while
the I-526 trucks do it every damn day! 
So we hustled off to Mount Pleasant to visit Costco, Towne Centre and other sundry stops before we headed home. Toogie, looking at her Waze app, suggested we return back over the Wando River Bridge rather than the longer, but sometimes faster, route down Clements
Ferry Road.
A few days later, Toogie was back on Waze patrol. This time she was texting her gentleman caller, Brevard, about the best time and path to arrive on Daniel Island. I was not thrilled that Brevard was back in the picture. He had been away for a while on a trek to see Monarch
butterflies at some site in Mexico before they began their annual migration north. 
I was sad to know he would be resuming his periodic migrations to Daniel Island again. But this time the I-526 traffic did me a favor. Driving from downtown Charleston, Bervard was stalled as traffic had snarled after a landscape truck dumped ladders and rakes somewhere
on the westbound section of the bridge. 
Toogie and Brevard exchanged texts and phone calls. It was too late to take the Clements Ferry route. Finally, Brevard arrived, more out of sorts than gas, said a quick howdy and hustled Toogie into the car. As she entered I heard her ask if they would be late for their lunch
at a fancy downtown eatery. Brevard puffed a tad and replied that it would not be a problem as he knew the maître d’ on a first-name basis and the table would be held for him.
About an hour later, Grace received a text from Toogie reporting that she and Brevard had been delayed due to an accident on I-526 as they headed east toward downtown, and now they were headed to another place for lunch.
“So sorry,” Grace texted back.
“Oh no. It’s wonderful.” Toogie replied. “Fill u in later.”
Later that afternoon, Toogie waltzed through the door smiling from ear-to-ear.
“Where’s Brevard?” I inquired.
“He had to hustle back downtown,” she explained. “The traffic coming here was heavy, and he had to get back for cribbage with his group of buddies.”
I suppressed a smile. Grace asked how lunch had been and where they went.
“Well,” Toogie exclaimed, “sit down and I will give you the play-by-play.” We all moved to the sun room where Toogie took a chair facing us. She patted her hands on her knees, rubbed them together, touched her eyes, and then began to cry. Grace leapt up to comfort her. 
Toogie smiled and said, “I’m okay. Really. As I told you, it was just wonderful. Wonderful.” Her eyes were misty as she recounted the events of the afternoon.
She and Brevard had been delayed near the Long Point Road exit of I-526 as they headed toward downtown. There had been an accident involving a car with a U-Haul trailer and a black limousine. Toogie described how, as they passed the wreck, she recognized the limo
passenger, who was standing with the driver of the damaged vehicle. She insisted Brevard pull over. She got out and made her way to the accident site just as police cars and a fire truck pulled up. Her intuition was rewarded when she confirmed that the limo passenger was
indeed the singer, Johnny Mathis.
“I had all his albums when I was growing up,” Toogie reminisced. “I knew it was him the moment he came into view.”
Apparently, Johnny and his driver were on their way from the airport to a hotel downtown for a private luncheon. They had traversed I-526 because there was an overturned vehicle on I-26 only then to be cut off by the U-Haul guy. Somehow, Toogie suggested that Brevard could drive Johnny to his luncheon, and it was agreed the limo driver could handle the accident while Johnny took a lift into town.
“So, you drove Johnny Mathis downtown?” Grace asked incredulously.
“Better than that,” Toogie giggled, “we had lunch with him!”
“Get out!” Grace responded, now as animated as Toogie.
Toogie proceeded to describe how Johnny profusely thanked Brevard and her for driving to the hotel and even invited them to his luncheon.
Wondering how that change of plans might have sat with Brevard, I asked what his reaction was. Toogie replayed how Brevard began to decline since they had a previous engagement. But she cut him off telling him it surely should not be a problem since he was on the first-name basis with the maître d’. 
Toogie regaled us with all the details of the lunch and everything Johnny said, did, and how he had a certain smile. I enjoyed watching her joy and mused that she had never described Brevard with such endearing terms.
“And it gets better,” Toogie gushed. 
Grace and I leaned in.
“Johnny is in town before a series of dinner concerts he is doing in Myrtle Beach. He gave me two tickets to attend.”
“Going with Brevard?” I queried.
“Nah. Myrtle Beach may not be his cup of tea,” Toogie muttered, “but I know my friend Mary will go. We’ll just need to allow enough time to get to Highway 17. Maybe we’ll take Clements Ferry to avoid the bridge.”
“How nice,” Grace replied. “I’m sure it will be a wonderful experience.
After a pause, Toogie interjected, “You guys want to go? I could ask Johnny for two more tickets.”
“You could do that?” Grace asked.
“Sure,” Toogie responded. “He gave me his cell phone number. I know him on a first-name basis now.”
Grace sat back in her chair absorbing all of the story. I nodded and asked, “And you think Johnny Mathis would really give us two more tickets?”
Toogie leaned back, and with a silly grin, murmured, “I’d say your chances are awfully good.”

Daniel Island Publishing

225 Seven Farms Drive
Unit 108
Daniel Island, SC 29492 

Office Number: 843-856-1999
Fax Number: 843-856-8555


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