Friday, March 30, 2007

The Starbucks Generation

Bluffton Today column, March 30, 2007

I stood with my head tilted back, my neck atrophying from the awkward angle as if watching the big screen from the front row. There was little room to step back to better my view with the crowd as large as it was. And as I strained to peruse my options, I panicked. I was not familiar with the lingo and with buzz words flying about I worried that I was not up to the task. With my proverbial tail between my legs I sheepishly asked the women behind the counter, “is a frapaccino the frozen kind?” “Yes,” she replied haughtily and with a look of disgust in her eyes.

And then it struck me. I am getting old.

I am of Generation X.

I grew up with a cassette player, a cabbage patch kid, and an Andre Agassi poster (with the long hair) on my closet door.

I applied for college the old fashioned way – with a handwritten application and essay. I didn’t use a computer fluently until I got to college and I didn’t email until I was in my twenties.

I bought my first cell phone in 1997, it cost me $30 a month and for that I got about 60 minutes of talk time. Oh, and did I mention it was the size of a paperback novel?

But now I am living in a world where coffee drinking is a cult activity. Where the company you work for can track your every movement with the GPS system on the company phone that they so graciously offered you. Where ten year olds have cell phones, home pages, and buddy lists and don’t have to watch commercials because they got TIVO for their ninth birthday.

The Starbucks Generation will never sit down with a photo album on their knees, flipping through the pages of their lives. Instead, they will simply send their grandkids a link to their blog. And that makes me a little sad, but I too am a victim.

A photo collage dons the wall in my master bedroom – a small collection of pictures from vacations Joe and I took to Jamaica and the Bahamas, pictures from my sister’s and my cousin’s weddings, my niece’s christening, and some other family events. But, those are the only real pictures I have to commemorate the last seven years of my life. The rest exist on CDs jammed into my desk drawer, or as saved images in random folders on my hard drive or better yet in online photo galleries somewhere in cyber space.

The times they are a changing.

I remember the family photo albums that stocked the shelves when growing up. I can still picture the pages vividly and I know from memory which album commemorates which events.

A few months ago when I started a bike safety project with my Leadership class I called my mom and asked her to find the picture of me at a bike rodeo when I was six. She found it and the picture was just as I remembered it.

Last week as I watched my niece, Erin, take her first tentative steps I thought, wow she looks just like her mom. And, so I paged through a photo album of my sister’s childhood and found that picture that I knew was there of her in a white dress, with little pink flowers with a face that mirrors that of her daughter’s.

And that makes me wonder how in the age of technology and all things digital - where will my past go?

Friday, March 23, 2007

Holding Court

Bluffton Today column, March 23, 2007

Last week my Mom, the retired physical education teacher, saw the Bluffton Bedlam brackets in the paper and called my sister immediately to tell her all about my placement. You see, my mother didn’t realize that this was affiliated with the NCAA basketball tournament. Instead she thought that somehow I was ranked among the sixty-four best people in Bluffton and that some sort of competition would ensue hopefully with me being crowned Ms. Bluffton.

Funny right? Well, it got me thinking.

If we had a contest for Mr. or Ms. Bluffton, who would be the victor?

So, without further a do, I nominate the following for consideration:

Jacob Preston. Salt of the earth. Great guy. Bluffton’s “tallest potter” is one of the most kind and welcoming folks that I have met since my journey south. I see him everywhere and each time I do I truly feel like a part of this community.

Kim Abbott. As Director of Athletic Development for USCB, Kim will lead the charge to bring athletic teams to USCB’s New River campus and certainly spark some camaraderie and good ole fashioned competition here among our neighbors in the South. (A golf tournament to raise funds for the athletic program is slated for May 21 at Palmetto’s Bluff May River Golf Club.)

Doug Hancock. The first local I met. Doug gave me a tour of Bluffton via the May River and he narrated the entire trip, telling tales of all of the original Blufftonians as our vessel cruised past their backyards along the May.

Mary Vaux. We met quite by accident, but formed a quick bond tending to her daughter Emily’s last minute wedding details. Mary brought Joe and me into the fold of her family friends, having only known me for a few weeks. Mary has a huge heart and is involved in everything that is good about Bluffton.

Jim Wheeler and the two guys named Bill. These are the guys I start most mornings with at the Bluffton Coffee House. They are always good for some local gossip, a great story and of course many a column idea. Thanks boys.

Bill Herbkersman. I have to say, I like the guy, a lot. He is accessible, he responds to email; he is one of the few down to earth politicos that I have met. Now, this doesn’t mean I am a convert, but yes I may even vote for him next time around.

Sharon McMahon. Wife, mother and middle school math teacher. Need I say more? Ok, she is also my sister, but I am always amazed by the amount of time and energy she puts into her students. She really cares. It is her and the hundreds of other educators that we should thank, rather than complain about in anonymous Voxes and blogs. (I knew I could find away to get a Vox dig in. Mission accomplished.)

And Mom, since my opening paragraph was intended to tease you, you deserve tribute as well. As I said at your retirement dinner … “Often times you hear people say, ‘oh no, I am turning into my mother’, well I couldn’t think of anyone I would rather become.”

So, here is an idea folks, let’s pledge to spend at least today, maybe even a week thanking and paying homage to the Blufftonians that we are lucky to have. Let’s leave the complaining on the shelf if just for a little while and focus on what matters. Our neighbors, our friends, and preserving our state mind.

And until Donald Trump arrives in town with his Miss Universe posse in tow, I’ll be practicing my elbow-elbow-wrist-wrist-Miss America-wave in the hopes that I will wear a crown one day. And of course, I will continue to wish for world peace.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Reunited, It Doesn't Feel So Good

Bluffton Today column, March 16, 2007

Lately I’ve been hearing a Peaches & Herbs song playing on a loop in my head, “Reunited and it feels so good, reunited ‘cause we understood …” It is driving me crazy.

You see, one day last week I came home to find an email from in my inbox. The email indicated that I had received a "Classmates Email" from an ex-boyfriend, who by the way, shall remain anonymous in order to protect the innocent.

I couldn't resist, I had to click.

The subject of the email from said ex was, "Just wondering" and went on to read, "Are you the Courtney Hampson who used to live in Brick, NJ in the 90's? If so, I think you may know who I am? If you are, how are you doing?"

Suddenly it all came rushing back; this guy was a semi-nerd then and is clearly still a bozo today. I mean seriously, if you took the trouble to go to the website, look up the year you know I graduated high school and the town you know I lived in, and found my name there, chances are it is me, right?

Anyway, I was at a crossroads. Do I ignore his email or do I respond and tell him how wonderful my life is today, sans him. I of course, chose the later. My reply went something like this …

“Yes, I am the Courtney Hampson who lived in Brick, NJ and graduated in 1991 and yes, of course I know who you are.

I am great! I live Bluffton, South Carolina (Hilton Head area) with my husband, Joe. My mom and Sharon and her husband all live here as well. We love it in the South. We had a beautiful new home built. We are close to the beach and of course lots of golf. I have an amazing job in marketing, I write a weekly column for the local paper and I am teaching classes at the college level…”

Basically, my message was eat your heart out buddy, I am so much better than you ever imagined.

I’m not sure if it worked though. I am on day sixteen of the watch, and still no reply from the ex. (Did I mention that Joe thinks I am kook for even visiting the website?)

My dismay over why he chose not to respond got the best of me and I felt the need to explore further so I delved deep into his Classmates profile. And, oh boy you won’t believe what I found. His favorite music is the latest mix-tape that he made. (Alert, alert, alert!)

Now, making mix tapes was pretty hip in the 80’s, but it wasn’t cool in 1996 when I dated him (yes, he still made mix tapes in 1996) and I am pretty sure it is definitely not cool now. I mean does anyone still actually produce tapes? Are they even available in the stores? As I pictured him holed up in his garage with a boom box, that got me thinking…

Why did I embark on this mini-fact-finding-mission to discover more about a guy I dumped over a decade ago? More importantly, why are millions of people each day using these sites to reconnect?

Is it an honest desire to find someone from your past and catch up? Or is it the chance to finally one-up that girl who dumped you in the 9th grade? I haven’t found the answer, although I continue to be intrigued by the phenomenon.

As I penned this column and talked with Joe about how ridiculous the concept of is he gently reminded me about my little encounter with, which I had blocked from my memory. He apparently finds my craziness mildly entertaining and thought I should fess up, so I will.

Last year, I received an email from saying “Someone is looking for you. Join now to reconnect!” I couldn’t resist. I logged on and swiftly dropped $29 for an annual membership to find out who was searching for me.

Well, sadly it Paula Siminski from the class of 1968. She graduated five years before I was even born. $29 down the drain.

I haven’t found an answer yet to the question of why we (me and three trillion members of and have this need to look to the past.

I am guessing that we all really want that Sally Field Oscar moment … you love me, you really love me!

Courtney Naughton is a Jersey Shore native who moved to Bluffton. Yes, the Courtney who went to Brick High School and graduated in 1991. If I dated you in the 90s, send me an email at You know I’ll reply!

Friday, March 09, 2007

di ma kre se

Bluffton Today column, March 9, 2007

I go both ways.

I’ll take a Republican here, a Democrat or two there, maybe even a little Independent if the mood strikes me. But despite my open political arms I am struggling with the politics here in the Lowcountry.

I had to hit the dictionary to make sure that I am not going crazy and that democracy is still government for the people, by the people, yada, yada. But, just to make sure we are all on the same page of our civics book.

de·moc·ra·cy (di-ˈmä-krə-sē) noun.
1 a: government by the people; especially : rule of the majority b: a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections 2: a political unit that has a democratic government

dem·o·crat (de-mə-ˌkrat) noun.
1 a: an adherent of democracy b: one who practices social equality 2. capitalized : a member of the Democratic party of the United States

We all know and understand these definitions, right?

Then, someone please explain to me why according to Tuesday’s paper, “Democratic party officials have said that they do not expect to field a candidate in the (Senate) race.”

Then, please explain to me why the Beaufort County Democratic Party never fielded a candidate to run for the County Council Seat (Bluffton) last November.

Then, please explain to me where the heck all of the Democrats are.

No offense to my husband and the ten other folks (all with twenty plus years on Joe) who actively support the party. But, if the basis for the Democratic Party is to support democracy, then how come they aren’t?

Field a candidate people! So, you never win, who cares? The little engine that could didn’t make it up the hill the first time out. I think you can, I think you can.

We know that Bluffton is growing by leaps and bounds. We also know that a good chunk of the folks moving here are thirty or forty some things with families looking to settle. We also know that many are arriving via a blue state.

Why are we sitting back and allowing the Republican candidates to duke it out? We now have three Republican candidates for Scott Richardson’s vacated Senate Seat. Don’t we even want to get in the race? Surely, there is a Democrat somewhere with some experience or desire.

You are killing me people. I am dying a slow, agonizing death as a result of democracy withdrawal.

Surely I am not the only one thinking this (thank you Mom for your continued support). What is it going to take to get a little political action?

Basically people hate politics, I get that. But, people in Bluffton LOVE to complain. Well, complaining is not getting you anywhere! Stand up, have a voice, be seen and be heard.

Here is your chance.

Meet me on Tuesday, March 13 at 5:30 p.m. at Pepper’s Porch for the Democrat Club South of the Broad event. Sounds like a membership drive people!

Who knows in a few months we might be able to say – we thought we could, we thought we could.

Courtney Naughton is a Jersey Shore native who moved to Bluffton. Email your Fox News worthy rants to her at

Friday, March 02, 2007

The Inconsiderate Truth

Bluffton Today column, March 2, 2007

I have to be honest with you. I am getting quite sick of the nasty letters to the editor, the even nastier anonymous VOX comments, incidents of road rage, and car vs. dog hit and run accidents. Shame on us. What is happening here and why is everyone so angry?

Now, before you get all up in arms about my accusations, calm down. The inconsiderate vibe seems to travel well beyond our borders. Earlier this week I was in Savannah for dinner where the diners at the next table complained about the menu, the wine list, and the prices to the waitress while she stood by patiently and with a smile. What makes people think that they can say whatever they want and never consider hitting the edit button?

Oh, it gets better. From dinner we moved on to the Johnny Mercer Theatre to see Harry Connick, Jr. in concert. Harry started the show at eight o’clock on the dot. Twenty percent of the audience however was not as considerate. For fifteen minutes, late arrivals trickled in making noise along the way. Did I mention how many times a cell phone rang during his performance? Again, shame on us.

The inconsiderate truth is a nationwide epidemic, which leads me to my number one pet peeve.

Nothing drives me crazier than air travel. “Ladies and gentleman, we would now like to begin boarding our first class passengers for flight 452 to Newark.” Now, I know there are only a dozen first class seats, so how come 30 people are now hovering at the gate?

“Ladies and gentleman, we would now like to welcome any children flying alone or passengers who need assistance.” I see one child traveling and a man in a wheelchair, both of who have just been run over by 20 more passengers racing to elbow their way to the gate.

“Ladies and gentleman, we would now like to board passengers in rows 18-24.” By this time everyone is in line at the gate. Everyone but me, because I follow the rules and I am in row eight, so I wait.

By the time I board the plane and make my way to row eight, there is no overhead bin space left, because everyone at the back of the plane put their luggage in the front of the plane. God forbid they have to carry their luggage twenty extra feet. I mean, hello! You schlepped from the house to your car, from the car to the airport, from security to the gate, would a few more feet kill you?

So, I have to walk to the last row, to the only empty overhead bin and store my carry on luggage.
Now the plane lands in Newark and I have to wait for the entire plane to de-plane (are you picturing a small man in a white suit on a fantasy island?) before I can make my way to the back of the plane to get my luggage.

Last one on the plane, last one off the plane, because I follow the rules.

I truly don’t understand why people feel that they have the right to ignore the rules and treat people so poorly.

Breathe Courtney, breathe.


Now back to Bluffton. A few words of wisdom my dear fellow citizens:

If you don’t live in Rose Hill, don’t weigh in on their issues (anonymously), let them handle it. Why do you feel the need to comment on their issues?

If you are driving 278 and hit a dog, cat or any other creature for that matter, for crying out loud, stop your car and do something about it you heartless fool.

Further, if you are driving 278 behind a 90 year old woman with coke bottle glasses and a maximum speed of 32 mph, chuckle to yourself, remember that you will be that old one day and without cutting anyone off, pass her. (Also try not to follow the 90 year old woman to a parking lot where you will beat her up.)

Come on people, be nice. Didn’t your mama teach you anything?

Courtney Naughton is a Jersey Shore native who moved to Bluffton. She used to get soap in her mouth when she spoke out of turn. Email her at