People ask how I find column ideas. Rhonda Rich, the columnist whose column appears in the Daily Post on Saturdays, addressed that question recently. "I wait for them to come to me," she said.
And that's exactly what happened with this column.
For months I'd been desperately seeking a mother-of-the groom dress for my son Leif's wedding next weekend. I went to bridal shops, consignment shops and department stores. Friends, and even Sarah, Leif's fiancee, were sending me online links for dresses that might be suitable.
Everything was too expensive, too formal, too revealing, too frumpy or just so "not me." Friends suggested I write a column about my experience, but really, who wants to read 500 words of carping and complaining? I can offer my readers better than that.
One place I hadn't looked for a dress was Gwinnett Place Mall. About six weeks ago I had an interview scheduled with Mark Hinson about the historic Legacy Tree in the White Chapel Cemetery he manages on Pleasant Hill Road. To kill two birds with one stone, I met with Hinson on my way to the mall.
As is often the case, once I got the information I needed, we sat and chatted for awhile. Hinson revealed to me over a cup of coffee that he'd served as a counter-terrorist specialist in the Army Military Police and told me about his experience in Army intelligence. He said he currently serves as the Intelligence NCOIC (non-commissioned officer in charge) in the Georgia State Guard where he coordinates efforts with local, county, state and federal agencies concerning matters of security. Having me totally captivated, he went on to tell me about ways intelligence agents gather information.
I could have sat there all day listening to him, but I had a mission of my own.
"I hate to leave," I said, "but I have to find a dress for my son's wedding. I'm going to check out Gwinnett Place while I'm in the area."
"No," he said, "you need to go to The Rack. The Nordstrom Rack by the Mall of Georgia. You'll find your dress there. Trust me. You will."
I didn't even know we had a Nordstrom's Rack in Gwinnett. And I wasn't sure how much a guy would know about shopping for women's clothing, but I took his advice.
When I got to the rack of dresses, I couldn't believe my eyes. I actually saw several that would be suitable. But standing out among the rest was just what I was looking for. A simple, but elegant, dress in my favorite color, burgundy. It was the only one of its kind, and it just happened to be in my size -- and my price range.
Now how did Hinson know?
When I show off my gorgeous gown -- with its $69.97 price tag -- to my friends and they asked me how in the world I ever found it, I can only say in all honesty, "It just took intelligence."
Susan Larson is a Lilburn resident. E-mail her firstname.lastname@example.org.