Once upon a time, a man and a woman fell in love, or so it’s told by another man (who happens to be the previous man) to that same woman now that they’re both elderly and in an old folks’ home and about to die. And thusly, Nicholas Sparks made thousands of teenage girls weep, and then swoon when his story The Notebook became a movie with Ryan Gosling even before he was the Sexiest Man Alive runner-up everyone swoons for today. To think that there was a time when the actor jaywalked through the streets of the Holy City and none of us Southern women claimed him as our own. Now that he’s shacking up with Eva Mendes, none of us stand a chance, so we’ll have to settle for re-enacting that well-known, rain-soaked kiss with a real Charlestonian. Here’s how:
1. Fall in love with a working-class boy or a rich girl. Or be daring and switch the gender roles. You should also preferably be 17.
2. Go for a movie date at the American Theater, which is much trickier than it sounds, because unlike in pre-World War II times, the American Theater rarely shows movies nowadays. Instead of that picturesque marquee displaying film titles, you get wedding congratulations or “Welcome Back Students.” However, you will have a brief window of opportunity in the spring, when the Charleston International Film Festival uses the venue, or you could rent the whole thing yourself to play Lil’ Abner. How romantic.
3. Lie down on Upper King Street, preferably near the intersection of King and Mary streets near Bluestein’s, so that the glow of the streetlights can bathe you in their warmth, and where you will soon be arrested by cops who assume you’re just some drunk kids that just stumbled out of Midtown. Also, did anyone notice how during this part of The Notebook you can totally see their breath, even though it’s supposed to be summer? Geez, what the heck?
4. Have brunch out at Boone Hall Plantation with a bunch of judgmental rich people wearing white.
5. Lose your V-card in an abandoned Seabrook Island mansion, even though the house’s real-life counterpart is located on Wadmalaw.
6. Clog the stretch of George Street in front of the College of Charleston’s Cistern Yard (subbing for Sarah Lawrence) with your 1940s-era car, which is what James Marsden’s character did to win over Rachel McAdams. This will be charming for your love and annoying for everyone else. Actually, skip this part. No one who watched The Notebook was rooting for James Marsden.
7. Take a bus down Broad Street — the Meeting/King DASH, Route 211, is your only bet — then make your way to High Cotton, where you should stand pensively as the love of your life dines with the richer, more viable partner that he or she probably deserves to end up with anyway. Find a war widow to bang.
8. Renovate that fake Seabrook/Wadmalaw mansion. Get in newspaper.
9. Reunite with the love of your life, and pick a day with an 80 percent chance of rain to rowboat around Cypress Gardens, which, in case you were wondering, is more than an hour away from Seabrook — by car. Then get caught up in the inevitable storm. Then make out.
10. Get Alzheimer’s and die. Way harsh, but that’s what happens.