I’d never been to the US before, so I’d never met anyone from Alabama – I don’t think they give them passports. “You girls ever been in a pick-up truck?” he asked. We giggled.
His name was Chip. I still don’t know whether that’s short for anything.
He took us fly fishing, me and Caroline, my oldest friend. I never really got the hang of it. Besides, I was too fascinated with Chip: he had everything a man needed for a day’s fishing: rod, bait, book, cool beers and a padded thermal sleeve to go round them. I've always envied that sort of simple self-sufficiency.
Caroline and I were visiting a friend on the coast in Maine. That night, with no catch, the four of us ate at Mable’s Lobster Claw. Talk turned to women. Apparently, the girls of Maine weren’t up to scratch. What about Internet dating, we suggested. “I’d be lettin’ maself down.”
A few days later, we drove round to say goodbye. The pick-up was outside, a pair of trousers draped over the back. It was dark, the deep black you get in the country, and the hiss of crickets filled the air. We banged on the veranda door, and eventually he appeared, a beer in his hand snug in the thermal sleeve. “I’m goin’ to Portland, gonna get me a girl,” he winked. “Ya’ll have a naace trip home.”