When I Fell for Amanda
Tim Achee's Memories of Amanda
It wasn't too long ago that I
had the honor of meeting Amanda for the second time. The
first was brief. Into the room at Doug's and Janet's
house in Atlanta came Lillian and Amanda on their way out
for a trip to the library. Hello. Nice to meet you.
The second time was different. Robb, Carole, Amanda and
Lillian all came down to my neck of the woods this time.
They decided to visit New Orleans, and Valerie and I
drove down there from Baton Rouge to meet them all in the
We set out from the Monteleon on Royal Street and headed
for the Cafe Du Monde for cafe au lait and beignet. That
was my idea. A ritual for the quarter, as it were. I
couldn't help but note that Amanda and Lillian were
pouting a bit. They had wanted to go off on their own,
but no one in their right mind lets their kids do that in
New Orleans anymore.
The girls' spirits brightened a bit after a few minutes.
All around were other teens and pre-teens with their
parents, and I think they were beginning to see that we
might know what we were talking about after all. At least
it was apparent that they weren't alone.
Valerie, Carole, Amanda and Lillian all wanted to see the
French market next. And Robb and I, well, we wanted a
drink. Or two. At the right bar on Bourbon Street, a
drink can be generous. Two or three can get you well on
the way to Mardi Gras, even if it is the middle of
An hour or so later, Robb and I met the "girls"
just outside the Cafe Du Monde. And after a short walk to
my car, so that Robb and I could freshen our empty go
cups from a bottle, we all headed for the hotel room to
cool off a bit.
We got to talking up there in the cool of the air
conditioning. Something I said struck a chord with
Amanda. It was not what I said, but how
I said it. I was slurring, and Amanda was tickled,
quoting something from someone else in the same condition
from another time.
She had me, all right. All I could think to say was,
"I'm not that bad, am I?"
The girls decided to visit the pool on the rooftop of the
hotel. Robb and I talked a bit, then Robb played his
harp. I listened to his blues, wishing I had my guitar.
We finished our drink, then decided to go up to the roof
too. It was then Robb decided to explain the story of
Amanda's Uncle Doug and why Amanda was tickled by my
slurred speech. Forgive me for telling tales here, Doug,
but we've all been there.
When Robb and I got to the roof, the girls were already
gone. How we missed them is still a mystery. But Robb and
I weren't worried about that just yet. We hung out on the
roof and Robb pointed out buildings I couldn't identify,
and we generally just talked. In the course of our
catching up, we had wondered over to a corner of the
rooftop where no one coming from the main pool area could
see us at a glance.
This proved to be our downfall. Or might have been if it
hadn't been for Amanda.
After a good while, Robb and I decided it was time to get
back to the room so we could get back to Bourbon Street
eventually. When we got to the room, I knew immediately
that Valerie was mad. Carole wasn't thrilled either.
Right away, our wives wanted to know where
we had been. Now, Valerie knows me too well, and anything
she might have imagined hasn't been too far off base in
the past. And Valerie's aggravation must have transmitted
to Carole. And there she was in a strange city, a wild
city, with a MIA husband.
So why should they believe we had been on the roof
looking for them? Why should Amanda and Lillian?
Still slurring, I began to explain. Or at least tell the
truth, because we still don't know how we missed each
other. But there was Amanda, sitting on the bed, enjoying
the plight of these two same men who had insisted the
quarter was too dangerous for a teen to wander alone with
her little sister.
She looked up at me, with the most shit-eating grin I've
ever seen, and said, "Y'all are bus-ted!"
At that moment, she won me over. I fell, all the way, for
Amanda. A child after my own heart. She penetrated right
through an awkward moment, an embarrassing moment, and
with wit and wisdom, called the tune. Even if Robb and I were
innocent. Amanda knew our innocence was mostly
My name is Tim Achee. I've known Robb for years. We email
often. Of all the joys we've shared in our talks, I know
that telling each other of our childrens' progress has
been the most joyous and the most meaningful. Mostly for
this, I will deeply miss Amanda. Yet, when it hurts, I
think back on the expression on her face, that slight
Georgia accent, and the beautiful candor of her words:
"Y'all are bus-ted." And I can laugh again.
Tim Achee, 7/97