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Contest Winner: Kelly Shacklett!!!

Adi and I arrived in London a couple of hours ago and have since been going through the entries and picked the winner of our “Most Embarrassing Story Competition!” Congrats to Kelly Shacklett!! We can’t wait to meet you on the second of January!
We loved reading though all of the tales and we thank everybody who participated. We are going to have more competitions in the near future, so please keep checking the blog for announcements.
Next Exit was very fortunate to receive a bunch of internet publicity regarding our little challenge and were even featured on Go London: and WeddingBee. How cool is that!
Anyways, our winning story is amazing and we cannot wait to meet this amazing couple in Paris.
Click more to read. It’s totally worth it making it through to the end!!
In June of 2002 I was invited to my French friend Delphine’s wedding in France and I was so excited to go, words can not even describe it. I had stayed up all night before the flight packing and repacking to make sure I had everything I needed including my big hat I had bought for the ceremony and all the assorted clothes needed for the different events. When the morning came I was exhausted, but ready to go. I drank about a gallon of coffee and headed to the airport and borded my plane. I figured I could sleep all the way to France and would be well rested when I arrived for the wedding. (Sadly my fatigue had kept me from realizing that drinking a gallon of coffee right before a flight is not exactly a sleep aid, so I stayed awake the whole flight.) By the time I arrived in Paris, I was long past tired and was truly at the point of exhaustion. I called my friend Delphine’s friend whom she had made arrangements with to drive me from Paris down to Beaujolais where the wedding was happening. He was very nice on the phone and told me he’d be happy to drive me down there as soon as he was off work, which would be at around 6pm. I double checked my watch, yep… 7am. I would have to sit in the airport for 11 hours with my two giant suitcases, hat box and purse. Not happening. Way too tired. So I decide to rent a car and drive myself the 5 hours to Beaujolais. Within an hour I had a map and my tiny little rental car piled with bags and I set off. I stopped at just about every rest stop along the way for more coffee to keep me awake, and finally I was getting close to her family’s chateau.

I was so excited to be staying at the chateau for the wedding. The invitation had included a list of at least 20 hotels, but when I called Delphine to ask her which hotel I should stay in, she said I would be one of the special guests invited to stay at the chateau for the weekend. I asked if she was sure there was room for me and she said definitely, the chateau could sleep 50!!! I naturally had visions of myself lounging around the Beaujolais version of Versaille having the weekend of my life meeting all sorts of glamorous new friends! So as I arrived at the chateau, I was very happy to see the family’s beautiful home, but couldn’t help thinking that it didn’t look anywhere near big enough to sleep 50. I saw Delphine and she told me to follow her as she would take me to my room. (She neglected to notice that I was loaded down with a big purse, hat box and two giant rolling suitcases and so she took off leaving me to trudge behind her with the hat box in my teeth, my purse slung over my shoulder, my car key in the waistband of my pants (pants had no pockets) and dragging the two giant roller bags along the gravel road.

We walked past the house and down a path. A guest house, perhaps? No such luck. She took me to where there was a a little wooden staircase that led to a doorway over a garage. When she flung the door open, I saw where I’d be sleeping. It was a room with a thick dirt layer on the floor and 16 cots lined up around the room, each with a flat pillow and gray wool blanket. At one end of the room a piece of twine was wound around a nail and the twine was stretched across the length of the room and wound around a nail at the other end. This was to be used as a “closet”. As Delphine was flying back out the door I noticed that I didn’t see a bathroom anywhere in the room. I asked her where it was and she said “down the path” as she disappeared. I dropped all of my bags next to my cot and decided to go investigate where these bathrooms were. As I walked down the path, I could smell the bathrooms before I could see them. I arrived at a little wooden hut with three doors. When I opened the door I saw that the “bathroom” was a little hole in the ground inside each of these stalls. I shook my head and put my hands on my hips thinking, “there is nooooo way”. Sadly, at that moment, I had forgetten that I’d put the key to my rental car in the waistband of my pants. I felt the key shoot down the leg of my pants and, as if in slow motion, watched it disappear down the toilet hole forever.

I had not been in Beaujolais even 5 minutes and had already managed to lose my rental car key down a sewer hole and I realized that my car was blocking the driveway that all of the trucks were going to be bringing the wedding supplies on. I now had to go up to the main house (where some of the guests were starting to gather) and tell the assembled group, of which I only knew the bride, and few of whom spoke English, that I’d lost my key down the toilet hole and needed help figuring out how to get my car out of the driveway. Delphine was nowhere to be found so I had to introduce myself to her cousin, whom she’d told me spoke English, and tell him what had happened to my car key. As I suppose should have been expected, when I told him the story he nearly doubled over with laughter. He then told the person next to him what had happened, in French, and the story quickly spread around the room like a game of telephone gone horribly wrong and the whole crowd was absolutely dying with laughter. I knew from then on that my vision of lounging around Versaille with glamorous new friends was definitely not going to happen. Instead I’d be sleeping on a cot normally reserved for the vineyard’s grape pickers and would be forever known to all as the American who lost her key down the toilet hole. Great. So when the shrieks of laughter had died down from the woman on the phone from the rental car company, it was decided that a tow truck would come and get the car early the following morning. After the rehearsal dinner and the after party (which was held in my “stable”) ended, at about 3am, I finally was able to get my long awaited sleep. However, at 5am there was a knock on the door and someone telling me to come down to meet the tow truck. I threw my coat on over my pajamas and headed down the stairs. Awaiting me at the bottom of the stairs was the wedding’s videographer laughing so hard he could barely talk, asking me in broken English to tell the camera what had happened with my car. Lovely. As I did my best to retell the story without losing my temper, given my 2 hours sleep in 3 days, the tow truck finally arrived, they hoisted the car onto the back of the truck and thankfully drove it away. By the time it was all done, it was already nearly time to get to the wedding ceremony. I scrambled to get ready and went to the civil ceremony, followed by a lunch, then had to hurry and change for the afternoon’s religious ceremony, followed by the reception. At the end of the civil ceremony as we were walking towards the lunch venue, I thought I heard someone speaking English. For a second I thought that it was my completely exhausted mind playing tricks on me, but when I headed towards the back of the crowd, I saw a young man speaking perfect English to two other American girls who had just arrived. I immediately went over and introduced myself and asked if they would mind another English speaker joining their group. They were gracious and very welcoming. At last I finally had some people to talk to and it appeared, since they had just arrived, they didn’t even know that I was the idiot American with the car key down the toilet hole. The guy turned out to be French, but he had spent all his summers growing up in America and had known the two girls all is life. He ended up being tons of fun and we even danced the night away at the reception. I knew he was going to hear the key story eventually as I could still catch laughing coversations about “le cle de la Americainne” all around the reception, so while we were dancing I finally told him my embarassing story. He had a little smile on his face, but very sweetly said, “that must have been awful. Is there anything I can do to help you?” Ahhhhh, I thought, I love this guy! And as it happens, four and a half years later, I still love this guy and we are getting married in Paris this May!

So my last wedding experience had one of the great embarassing moments of my life, but it led to my next French wedding experience, which is sure to be one of the most wonderful days of my life. So for that, it was all worth it!

  • Christa - Sounds like a scene out of the next Bridget Jones movie! Poor thing, but woo hoo for meeting future husband 🙂 Can’t wait to see pics.

    Hope you guys are enjoying your vacation. Romans parents got very teary when they received the pic’s of Rylie! Thank you again for everything

  • Jelena - Congratulations Kelly! Great story :)!

  • Lynn - Wow, that is such a sweet story. They are very deserving winners. Hope you and Adi are enjoying your vacay!

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