By Rebekah Davis
The Cullman Times
It was the screen name that initially drew her to look at David McDonald’s Internet profile: “rebelrider59.”
With that name, Jan figured, he had to be from the South, he probably rode motorcycles, and he surely was close to her age.
With a look at his profile, she realized he was a little farther away than the Vinemont resident hoped – this “rebel rider” rode in Glasgow, Scotland.
Jan decided to talk to him anyway, just for fun, and the now-married couple is still having fun together, more than three years later.
“Initially, I wasn’t looking for anybody,” David said, “but we knocked back and forth, and the sense of humor made us want to talk to each other. She said, ‘Never you mind checking out all these heifers (he pronounces it “hee-fers”) you’re going to marry me.’ Little did I know.”
That humor drew Jan in, too.
“Not many people click like that,” she said.
They kept up the Internet friendship, first talking on the phone a week later. The six-hour time difference made it difficult at times, but they still had a 16-hour phone conversation one day.
“I liked everything about him,” Jan said. “We talked every day, and at first we were just playing, but then I started to think, ‘This is an OK guy.”
She asked David what he would do if he fell in love with a Southern woman.
“I’d have to go where my heart was,” he told her.
After four months, David stepped onto a plane for his first trip to the United States. Jan’s friends thought she was crazy to meet him, but she was already in love.
Jan stood in the Birmingham airport that day, waiting, but David’s plane had already landed without her knowledge. Jan was watching people walk through when she saw a man in a yellow jacket going down the escalator.
“I thought, ‘That guy is really my type,’” she said.
Then she realized his flight had come in, and that’s when she cheated: She peeked over the balcony to spy on the man in the yellow jacket. She knew it was David when she caught a glimpse of the necklace he always wore, the one that his mother had given him.
“I can’t tell you the chills that I got,” she said. “I thought, ‘He is that good-looking! I have hit pay dirt!’”
Jan leaned over the balcony and said, “Hey, you.” David looked up, and his face turned blood red.
“I was just excited,” he said. “I was pleased to see her face to face. I was thinking, ‘How do I get to her?’”
The moment that they met was too awkward for a kiss, so they settled on a hug, or a “wee cuddle,” David said.
“But it just took a day of being with him and I felt like we had always been together,” Jan said.
He stayed for a month, and they agreed they would wait until his next visit to make sure they wanted to be together.
They were headed to the grocery store just before he was to leave when David got nervous and kept hemming and hawing. He avoided the “M” word until she finally parked in front of the store.
“I said, ‘David McDonald, are you proposing to me in the parking lot of the Piggly Wiggly?’” Jan said.
He said no, no, but when he sent flowers later, the card told her, “This is what I wanted to say in front of the Piggly Wiggly.”
When David came back, he filed immigration papers. He was supposed to be approved and back in Alabama by Christmas, but Immigration lost his papers. Jan wrote to every official and every Congressman she could think of, with no luck, until a woman finally took their case, cut through the red tape, and found David’s papers.
He flew to America and they were married on April 23, 2004.
David brought a little bit of dirt from Scotland so that, during the wedding, they could mix the soils of their lands. They plan to plant a tree in that blended Scottish soil and Alabama red clay.
The McDonalds may both speak English, but they don’t always speak the same language.
“During our first conversation, he asked if we had ‘squiddles,’” Jan said. “I said, ‘What are squiddles?’ He said, ‘They’re little brown things that run up trees and eat nuts.’ I said, ‘Oh, squirrels!’
“It was cute at first, but now it drives me crazy sometimes.”
Jan also has had to get used to David’s Scottish cooking. For example, David loves haggis, a traditional Scottish dish of chopped liver, onions, oatmeal and herbs boiled inside a sheep’s stomach.
“It’s awful,” Jan said, shaking her head.
“No, it isn’t,” David protested.
Jan has had to get used to David’s blunt honesty, and language that is more “colorful,” she says, than what she is used to.
“I thought he was a rough man until I talked to his 72-year-old mother, and she’s this really sweet lady, but she talks just like he does,” Jan said.
In the beginning, David would call home every day, telling his family what he did that day and how cheap the food is here.
“His mom really misses him,” Jan said. “I felt like I ripped her heart out.”
Even though David misses his homeland at times, he can’t imagine ever going back again without Jan. She wouldn’t let him leave, anyway.
Jan said the Scottish are passionate about everything from love to fighting.
“Something is there that I never knew existed in a relationship,” Jan said. “He makes me madder than any man ever has in my life, but I can’t see myself ever without him. I might tell him to get on that plane, but I’d be dragging the plane back down.”
And David’s reason for staying is simple: “I love her to bits.”
Do you know a neighbor our readers should meet? Call Rebekah Davis at 737-0652 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Rebekah Davis