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For nearly a week now Shelby County’s leaders most likely have been feeling like the loser on a romantic reality show or – worse – a jilted groom left at the altar.
They had put forward their best effort and wooed long and hard to win the hand of the lovely Harley-Davidson only to see that she couldn’t go through with the marriage.
She loved the proposal – she loved us – but the move to Kentucky was just too much for her.
Harley’s head won out over her heart.
Those must be the emotions with which we are left after Thursday’s agonizing announcement that Harley would not be moving its plant to Shelby County.
We knew it could happen – when you stretch for the best, you sometimes come up short – but we doubt most involved were prepared for the despair that had gripped their guts.
We had the brass ring in our pocket and the preacher all ready, and our beloved simply wouldn’t – or couldn’t – show.
Gov. Steve Beshear saw our grief and came to town on Friday to try to make it better.
He told us we still were admirable and handsome and that the right match would come along someday. He said so much of us had shined in our courtship of Harley that our reputation and image had grown immensely.
He tried every soothing word in his vocabulary to make us feel better, even rolling out the old line about having to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince or princess.
And he was right.
In all of these months of hard work, diligence and commitment, Shelby Countians proved themselves to be – if nothing else – a worthwhile suitor for the most coveted of hands.
We showed we had grown in our ability to communicate and to work together toward a common goal. We showed a new maturity as a viable marketplace and political force in state and national arenas.
That we outlasted all other suitors to find a place at the altar was more than most would have been expected.
Surely Harley would have hooked up quickly with the richer or more powerful. We were the ugly duckling in this game of The Bachelorette.
But when November dawned and the planned nuptials were nigh, there stood fair Shelby County in full glory, the chosen from among the dozens.
But as happens on that trendy TV show and all its clones, just to be chosen does not bring eternal love and bliss.
As much as the chosen one is loved and adored, he – and sometimes she – may not be the best mate for a happy life.
In Harley’s case, happiness was staying with the old sweetheart and not taking a chance. That sweetheart agreed to everything the company asked, and there was no way she could say no thank you with dignity. Harley did what it had to do. It stayed in Pennsylvania.
And we in Shelby were left to douse our sorrows, square up our shoulders and walk with composed strength toward the next opportunity.
If we can remember one thing from this process, it should be this: We should keep our tuxedo pressed, our shoes shined and our ring at the ready.
Someday soon, a lovely new mate will come along to be our partner for life.
And now we know we are ready for that day.