white point trees.jpg (copy) (copy)

Trees sprawl across White Point Gardens on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017. Michael Pronzato/Staff

We have a real opportunity here, Charleston.

Earlier this week, CNN broadcast a taped conversation between then-presidential candidate Donald Trump and his attorney talking about paying off a Playboy playmate — and our fair city apparently came up in the conversation.

Their plan was to buy the rights to her story about a 10-month affair she allegedly had with said candidate. Since such things are no longer shocking — or even surprising — a lot of people have focused on one of the future president’s puzzling non sequiturs.

“I think it’s probably better to do the Charleston thing, just this time,” he says on the tape.

Now everyone wants to know what “the Charleston thing” actually is.

People, we need to capitalize on this.

Sure, Trump may have been referring to a totally unrelated business deal or fundraiser. And maybe he didn’t even mean this Charleston. There are others, stupefying as that is.

But we can make this our own, a phrase that becomes a euphemism as entrenched in the popular lexicon as “hiking the Appalachian Trail.”

Which, come to think of it, is kind of ours, too.

Now we just have to decide what this one means — and trademark it.

This thing of ours

For many folks, “the Charleston thing” may be a skyline littered with construction cranes, or an epidemic loss of driving skills at the first sign of rain.

Or wearing a long-sleeve button-down with shorts, flip-flops and a visor as a statement ... of one kind or another.

Maybe it’s our refined way of griping about cruise ships, horse carriages and rickshaws, boring everyone with stories of our ancestors or relentlessly gentrifying peninsula neighborhoods.

On a political level, it could mean allowing a problem to linger — and grow worse for 20, 30 or even 50 years — without doing much of anything. See: finishing Interstate 526.

Or the phrase could simply refer to our ongoing conspiracy of painting everything black and telling people it’s actually just a really dark green.

Those are all Charleston things.

But, in the context of a covertly recorded phone call, “the Charleston thing” sounds like shorthand among thugs, a maneuver, a scheme.

You know, like seceding from the Union and throwing the country into turmoil under the pretense of states’ rights.

Because, of course, acknowledging what it was really about would make it hard to persuade boys and dirt-poor farmers to fight battles for the original denizens of the swamp.

But then, civil war is not one of the more flattering Charleston things.

A way of life

The best idea is to turn “the Charleston thing” into a slogan or a philosophy.

As in — Hey, forget your troubles, come to the coast and have some delicious Lowcountry seafood. Stroll along The Battery, spend the weekend at the beach, play a round of golf at Kiawah.

The world is in turmoil? Eh, look at it in a very Rhett Butler-esque way.

Frankly, that could be the Charleston thing.

Let’s show people that when we say “bless your heart,” we mean it. And not in the way then-Gov. Nikki Haley meant it when she tweeted it at Trump.

We could make “the Charleston thing” optimism and civility, showing the world how to get along and have a good time, even while suffering through withering humidity.

If we can convince the world “the Charleston thing” is an enviable lifestyle and an honorable disposition, then the president will say that’s exactly what he meant when he addressed paying the playmate $150,000 — in cash.

See, everybody wins. Just this time.

And if we trademark “the Charleston thing,” think of all the hats we could sell.

Reach Brian Hicks at bhicks@postandcourier.com.

Reach Brian Hicks at bhicks@postandcourier.com.