Meet the Heroes from A Dozen Apologies: Ted Rivers

2014 January 28
by faylamb

A DOZEN APOLOGIES FINAL FRONT COVER (282x425) In case you haven’t gotten word, there’s a new heroine in town, and she owes apologies to twelve different fellows. Here’s the scoop:

Mara Adkins, a promising fashion designer, has fallen off the ladder of success, and she can’t seem to get up.

In college, Mara and her sorority sisters played an ugly game, and Mara was usually the winner. She’d date men she considered geeks, win their confidence, and then she’d dump them publicly. When Mara begins work for a prestigious clothing designer in New York, she gets her comeuppance. Her boyfriend steals her designs and wins a coveted position. He fires her, and she returns in shame to her home in Spartanburg, South Carolina, where life for others has changed for the better.

Mara’s parents, always seemingly one step from a divorce, have rediscovered their love for each other, but more importantly they have placed Christ in the center of that love. The changes Mara sees in their lives cause her to seek Christ. Mara’s heart is pierced by her actions toward the twelve men she’d wronged in college, and she sets out to apologize to each of them. A girl with that many amends to make, though, needs money for travel, and Mara finds more ways to lose a job that she ever thought possible.

Mara stumbles, bumbles, and humbles her way toward employment and toward possible reconciliation with the twelve men she humiliated to find that God truly does look upon the heart, and that He has chosen the heart of one of the men for her to have and to hold.

Today, we’re hearing from Ted Rivers:

Tell us a little about yourself: where you’re from, what you studied in college, what you do now?

I was born and raised in Lexington, KY. Bluegrass Country was my playground. My brother and I were best buddies, inseparable. We fished and hunted, just generally roamed the countryside without a care in the world. Just being kids, ya know? We couldn’t wait for Friday’s. We’d come home from school, drop our books, and gather our stuff to explore. Sometimes, we’d camp out. As we got older, we gained some close friends who’d join us. Wow, those were fun times. Before high school hit and people expect you to start thinking about your future. That was the end of the carefree times for me—a loss of innocence I guess, or maybe coming of age—I don’t know. My grandparents had a horse farm close by. Lexington’s the horse capital of the world in case you didn’t know. We always spent a lot of time at my grandparents. Every week, as a matter of fact, after church, that was our family’s gathering place. Grandma cooked and my aunts brought their dishes. My grandma had a big family. Seven sisters. I still hold an image in my mind of the train of aunts carrying their covered dishes all the way from the car, up the sidewalk and the steps, and into the house. Grandpa would hold open the silver screen door with the broken chain and usher everyone inside. Aunt Rita’s fried chicken. Aunt Ruby’s mac and cheese. Mm, Mm. Man, those were back in the days when I could eat like that! Anyway, where was I?

bigstock-Horse-Ranch-7939879Oh, yeah, high school. So, when I was in high school, that’s when I started spending more time with Grandpa and the horses. I’d go over after school and do whatever Grandpa said to earn money. It was my first job. Grandpa said, “You wanta a car, you gotta start earnin’ money, son.” That’s when I started learning how to work with horses and fell in love with them, really. Their nature, their trust, their quirkiness. Not to mention their strength. It can be intimidating until you learn to have more authority than they do. That takes time, skill, and a little gifting doesn’t hurt either. Grandpa was a trainer and boarder. He had a good reputation and folks came to him from all over. Word of mouth. See, people have this perception that all horse people have money, come from money, rollin’ in dough. But that’s a small percentage of horse owners. Most of them are just like Grandpa. He made a good, honest living and taught me everything he knew. When it was time to go to college, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I ended up at the University of South Carolina and enrolled in their business school for a couple reasons that had nothing to do with academics. My cousin and his family live in Columbia, and I always like to be around family. And I knew USC had an equestrian program. I contacted the director of that program and arranged to work there. So, it worked out.

I remember one time my dad and my older sister had a conversation about what she wanted to do with her life. He said, “Ruth, you love animals. Why don’t you be a vet?” The way she responded is something I’ll never forget because I identified with it so much. She said, “Dad, that’s exactly why I don’t want to be a vet. Because I love animals. It would break my heart to spend all day tending to sick and dying creatures.” As much as I loved horses, I think people just expected me to follow in Grandpa’s footsteps. But I didn’t like the culture of the horse world. It didn’t sit right with me the way people try to fit them into their world to make a buck. I respected horses too much for that. I knew I’d always love horses and work with them, but I certainly didn’t expect it to be a business or my livelihood. But along the way I learned how to live according to my convictions and not be apologetic about it. Then I found other people who feel the same way, and I’ve prospered under an unconventional model. It’s really been a God-thing. Or, some might say, I just grew up and found my calling. Either way, I’m making a living doing something I love and doing it on my terms. I guess I came full circle. I did follow Grandpa’s path, but I play by my rules and if an owner doesn’t like it, he can find somebody else to do his bidding. Occasionally, I find a horse that has real potential and I train ’em for the track. But I won’t breed. I rescue, so I’m not adding to the problem. I also run a non-profit home for retired thoroughbreds that have outlived their usefulness.

How did you meet Mara Adkins and what did you think about her when you first met?

I met Mara on a Saturday night at a place called Beezers. It’s a hamburger joint popular with the students. Cheap food, good portions, and they’re open well into the morning hours.  A buddy of mine, Kyle, called and asked me if I wanted to meet him after the football game. He was going to the stadium to watch the Gamecock’s game against Clemson. I was working at the stables and came right from there. When I arrived, there was a huge crowd of people, which didn’t surprise me after the football game, but Kyle came with a big group. Had I known that I would have cleaned up first! That night I met Kyle’s older brother Garrett who was with Jenny. Then Jenny introduced me to Mara. We smiled and waved to each other from across a large table. Because it was loud, I didn’t even bother to yell nice to meet ya. She was beautiful with a big smile, and long dark hair. Her eyes sparkled in a way I could tell she might have a mischievous streak. She reminded me of a willful, ornery horse with some bad habits. That sounds bad because I’m comparing her to a horse, but eyes have a way of telling our secrets. Most people just don’t take the time or learn the art of discerning what the eyes reveal. You know the old saying; the eyes are the window to the soul. It’s really true.

Mara did some pretty ugly things to a few guys. How did you feel about her when she broke up with you so publicly? How did you handle the embarrassment?

Now that I know a little about the details of their game and how they picked their targets, I can see how I was a dead ringer. Walking into Beezers in my work clothes, muddy boots, plaid shirt, cowboy hat. Oh man, I bet I was an easy target. It’s really kinda funny looking back on it. What an impression I must have given. I coulda smelled like manure. I probably did.

Ya know, honestly when she broke up with me, I felt sorry for her. I was more embarrassed for her than worried about myself. I was grounded in my faith and I knew she wasn’t. My parents also knew me well enough to know the stuff she spouted that night wasn’t true. Gosh, the whole thing was such a shame. My parents were visiting and they took us out for a nice dinner, and she made such a scene. My parents did wonder if I noticed any warning signs that she was off her rocker. Or, should I say that she had some emotional problems. Well, like I said, I had already sensed she might be a handful, but that didn’t bother me. Another humorous thing from my parents’ point of view was: I didn’t introduce many girls to them, nor did I date that much. So, the fact that Mara was one of those I chose did concern them a little.

The bottom line was that I just figured God was saving me from getting in any deeper. You know the scripture that says do not yoke yourself to an unbeliever. That’s what came to mind.  And although she revealed a really ugly side of herself, it also showed her insecurity. Here was this refined, polished woman on the outside, but inside she had a need to be loved and accepted. That broke my heart.

Be truthful here. Did you every think of paying Mara back for the cruel game she and her sorority sisters played? If so, what did you think of doing? If not, why not?

Yeah, sure I thought of payback. Not necessarily for me, but the other guys. I didn’t catch on right away until Mara’s dates started dropping like flies. I even warned some poor soul when I saw the girls throwing attention his way. He didn’t listen and thought I was just sore that I got dumped. At first I played scenes in my head of what I would or should say to her. Luckily, I never got the chance because I didn’t see much of her after she broke it off. I would have felt bad if I had really said all the stuff I fantasized saying. Because I knew it wasn’t right to retaliate anyway. I really liked her. A lot. We had fun together. We share an adventurous spirit, and we tried new things together. On the flipside, we also enjoyed simple pleasures like walks and music. I don’t think she was faking having a good time with me. But, maybe I’m just fooling myself.  So, it did hurt that she didn’t like me back, but like I said, I figured I was probably better off, and I trusted God with the whole thing. He’s got my back.

And if the truth be told, I did play a dirty trick on her during her last visit. Not good, I know.

What do you think of Mara today?

I cannot lie; my heart skips a beat when I see her even after all these years. I just want to scoop her up and love her. I know she needed that, and part of me wanted to be the one who fixed things for her. But only Christ can heal her wounds.

I didn’t think she could change, but she proved me wrong when she sought me out in Kentucky to apologize to me. I put her through the ringer, but she came out shiny, clean, and tougher than I gave her credit for.

Still, I think I’ve really blown it. But I’m gonna take one last shot, that this time she’ll forgive me and give me another chance. Give us another chance.

Mara’s reunion with Ted  is posted today at Write Integrity Press. His author isn’t being revealed because the project authors (and our fearless editor) believed it would be fun for you, the reader, to vote for your favorite hero. Voting will open at Write Integrity Press on the day the last hero’s chapter is presented, February 5. Voting will be opened until February 8. The votes will be tabulated, and the winning hero gets the final chapter in the novella when it is offered free on Kindle beginning February 14.

The authors hope you have joined in on the fun. If you haven’t, here are a few sights where we have been having the best time:

Mara’s Facebook page

The You Know Your Job is Odd When… Facebook page where we’re sharing funny stories, memories, etc., about odd jobs we’ve all had.

Update:

Have you read each of the hero’s interviews? If not, click on their names below. If so, do you have a favorite? Well, the time has come to vote for him at Write Integrity Press. The winning hero gets the last chapter in the book, and he also might just win Mara’s heart.

David Hansen

Dominic Cardano

James Green

Collin Tate

Chip Linton

Russ Farlow

Elliott Weston

Connor Martin

Derrick Howzer

Brent Teague

Remy Perone

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