Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Triceratops Tale

My favorite beach game as a child was "archaeologist". I would dig a foot-deep hole in the sand, place one of my dinosaur toys in the bottom, and then fill the hole back up. I would wait about thirty seconds - sometimes a whole minute if I was feeling exceptionally patient- then, wielding my plastic shovel, I would dig up the buried toy and pull it from the excavation site.


I savored those discoveries with a pride that filled my little heart to overflowing.

One afternoon, I buried my beloved triceratops in a good, deep pit. I waited a few moments, my shovel hovering anxiously over the dig site, and then dove in. As I flung shovelfuls of dirt over my shoulder, as the hole got deeper and wider, I was distraught to find no trace of rough, plastic triceratops hide anywhere. Whimpering, my brow furrowed, I continued to dig. Soon the excavation site was three times deeper and wider than the original hole had been. But there was no triceratops. It was as if a sinkhole had opened up beneath the surface of the sand and swallowed my dinosaur up. I was heartbroken.

I never played archaeologist again.


Age six, at Roy Carpenter's Beach - my old burying ground


When Jason and I started dating, I told him my tragic archaeologist story. It was one of a thousand stories we told in the flurry of getting to know each other and falling in love. I remember him being saddened by the tale of my terrible triceratops loss, but neither of us brought it up again after the first telling.

For the first few months of our relationship, Jason worked as a security supervisor at a nearby mall (Yes, I fell in love with a mall cop, and I'm proud of it.) One night, when he was working an overnight shift, he invited me to come down to the mall to visit him. I accepted. We walked around the empty shopping center, past dark, gated shops and locked-up kiosks. Eventually we approached a large store that was completely obscured behind thick plastic sheeting and construction signs. Jason led me to a side entrance and beckoned for me to follow. Sneaking into an off-limits store after hours in the mall, presumably for the purpose of making out?
The teenager in me was utterly titillated.

The store-under-construction was a fantastic mess. The vast, naked space was bathed in the acerbic glow of fluorescent light and the concrete floor was littered with thick cables and heavy-duty machinery. In a half dozen different places, the concrete had been blasted away, creating wide craters of chalky dirt. As I surveyed the holes in the floor, I joked, "Hey, do you think they'll find any dinosaurs down there?"

Unwittingly, I had just said the most perfect thing possible.

Jason grinned. "I don't know," he said, "Do you think they might?" He walked over to the edge of one of the craters and then gasped. Squatting down, he peered into the hole and pointed at something.

"Look," he said, "Come check this out!"

I jogged over to the large pit and looked. Then I saw it: a tiny horn poking up from the earth. My heart began to pound.

"What do you think that could be?" Jason asked. Bracing a hand against the concrete ledge, he hopped down into the crater and knelt  by the protruding horn. I pressed both of my palms over my mouth and started giggling, giddily.With both hands, Jason dug into the chalky ground and unearthed the thing that had been buried there, then held it aloft for me to see:

A toy triceratops.


Thank you, Jason, for being an amazing friend and a true romantic. Thank you for helping me dig up something I thought I'd lost.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is the most wonderful romantic story I've heard in a long, long time. I'm crying and laughing at the same time. Thank you for sharing it!

Miss Kolleen said...

i love this story! this is the reason why you're my (second) favorite couple ever!! <3 i love you guys.

- Celes - said...

That's so freakin' cute!

We should all be so lucky to find a guy like yours some day...

Cooner said...

this might be my favorite story ever

your sister said...

that is the greatest most romantic story ever - i was so upset reading the beginning!! you so so really need to turn all of these blog posts into a book, you know. you're an amazing writer. i love you. and i love jason for loving you. :)