With all the hullabaloo (yes, that's how you spell it) with the Listen To Your Mother Show, my husband and my anniversary slipped by. I'm making it up to him here. Happy 17 years, Mark!
Bended knee at dawn on the beach? Serenaded by your love after having pebbles thrown at your bedroom window? Perhaps this was your story, not so mine. In true I can't believe this is my life style, here is my side of our Engagement Story: and, yes, it had destiny nervous for a few moments....
My not-as-of-yet husband and I had been dating for a bit over a year, and the subject of marriage hadn't been brought up. This was fine with me, as he had made no promises nor given any hints regarding a possible future together, so I couldn't claim to be misled or disappointed. He just wanted to date, and he was a polite and affable enough fellow that that would be alright.
He had a lot of gold stars in my book. He was: 1. well employed 2. always sober 3. smelled nice 4. had all his teeth, and they were in good condition 5. didn't have to purchase 2 airline tickets for himself when he flew. So, given all that, continued dating with no end in sight would be fine for the time being.
It was my birthday, and he had called to ask me out for dinner. I knew he'd have something special planned. At the time, he was traveling a lot, and our times together were mostly spent doing nice things at nice places with nice food. We all remember those days. When we existed only for ourselves.
Since I knew he'd have a spectacular dinner date set up, I let my mind wander to anticipating a romantic, pleasant evening. He was to pick me up at 6:30 p.m. As I sat and waited for him, I thought of how I was ready to be wined and dined and flattered and toasted to.
He arrives, and I immediately note that his face has such a look of concentrated concern, as if he's lost something. He is also unusually quiet tonight. I ask if everything is alright, he answers yes, but doesn't do much else to assure me. He is 20 minutes late, which is unlike him, but not wanting to start things off on the wrong foot, I say nothing. But, it's not a good start: his quietness, his late arrival, his short answers, his furrowed brow. Not good. As we drive in his car, I promise myself that I will nip this in the bud; he has to call if he's going to be late. Yeah, not the best thoughts to be having, I know. But it was all about me back then.
We are on our way to a restaurant, and he is quiet the entire ride there. I attempt conversation, but I feel as if I'm in the car with a coyote; all I hear is "yup. yup. yup." in answer to any question I pose his way.
"Oh, well, perhaps he has had a rough trip," I think to myself. I don't know. I'm hungry, I have to go to work the next day, and the dress I have on is new and adorable. With the pre-baby waist in it to match. I just want to go out, enjoy my meal, and celebrate my birthday.
We arrive at the restaurant parking lot, he parks, and then asks me to get out of the car and wait outside for him. I give him my Eddie Murphy face and just about say, "whatchoo talkin' 'bout, Willis.." but I refrain. Unusual request, to get out of the car by myself, but I do it. He usually gets out and opens my door...I'm now at the point of making my mental list entitled "Possible Red Flags...get out while the gettin' is good."
I oblige, and step out of the car-- and wait. I see him jostling around in his pockets and you don't want to know what I'm thinking. You just don't.
He then steps out of the car and begins to walk quickly, with the continual furrowed brow leftover from when he first picked me up. I quickly catch up to him, and try to walk along side--I attempt to take his arm, which makes him jump 20 feet in the air. Okaaaaaaaay...the mental list is now growing by yards, and has rapidly advanced to bullet point #3.
I let his arm go and just walk with him. We enter the restaurant, lucky for him, he does hold the door open. But when the hostess greets us, his tone is quick and hushed with her. He asks me AGAIN to wait a bit of a ways away. What in the world is going on? I'm starting to make my Eddie Murphy faces again. He and the hostess whisper back and forth, we're shown to a table, and seated. He keeps his hands in his pocket, I attempt to reach for his hand and he jumps again as if I'm giving him electric shocks.
He suddenly and abruptly gets up from his chair and says he needs to check something in the car. I have now entered "whatever" land. I have mentally checked out. I can no longer enjoy my meal, and start thinking, "OK. nice guy and all, but I just can't see what is going on between us...I'll just cut my losses, I'm still physically attractive and fertile enough to re-enter the dating game."
He returns, still with the hand in the pocket. I eat a silent dinner---he picks at his food. I feel so sad. I ask to go home early, since it's midweek, and his just returning from a long trip. This surprises him. Ooooh, so not good. We are that off sync? Worse yet, I think, "I can't believe he is HAVING A GOOD TIME???" All I can see is red flags. Red flags all over my brain.
He tells me he wants to drive to the lakefront. I say yes, thinking this is the least I can do, since I have decided this is the last time I'll be seeing him. We drive there, and the first thing I see is a white horse and buggy waiting. "Awww, this is so very sweet..." I say, knowing it must be my birthday treat and perhaps there's still hope? We climb in, I move to sit closely to him, and take his hand out of his pocket, in one last ditch attempt to convince myself his madness is just a case of jet lag.
He jumps out of his skin. Again. Alright, he's turned a bit "A Beautiful Mind" on me, that's alright...I can deal for a few more minutes. I'll be home soon, and then I know I'll have to give him "the call" tomorrow, for I'm on bullet point #7 at this time. I mentally prepare myself for the coming weekend of me by myself and Ben&Jerry's Death by Chocolate along with every single Love-Gone-Wrong video I can rent from Blockbuster. I've lived through life's disappointments before. I've had practice with those kinds of weekends-- I know I'll be alright.
He continues with his pocket patting fetish and I am ready to jump out of the horsecab by now, but it's going a bit too fast. It's also getting cold outside, kinda dark, the pavement would hurt, new dress, pretty shoes...etc.
I take a deep breath, close my eyes, and try to save the evening by relishing the sound of the clip clop of the horse's shoes on the quiet street.
And this is where it gets even stranger than it's been all evening.
He suddenly pulls out a small, white box. Just like that. With no announcement of "I got you something." I see the small white box, "Earrings!" I think. "For my birthday! And I'll bet they're super nice, too!" I am so excited, he just came back from Europe and maybe he picked up something there!
I smile and take the little white box and snap it open it and can't wait to see what is inside. Beautiful golden hoops? He knows I love hoops. But there are no golden hoops inside the box, because there is, instead, a perfect diamond ring sitting up high in the middle of a black velvet cushion. A ring, in a box, where a pair of birthday earrings should be. I am looking and trying to understand why I see a single, solitaire diamond ring in a box, in my hand.
All the weirdocities of the night now quickly make sense. All the perverted pocket padding this poor man did to ensure the ring hadn't fallen out, all the up and down and walking ahead so he could check to be sure the ring was still in the pocket. The poor guy probably filled his underwear at least 5 times that night from all the planning and the stress. Poor thing.
The rest of my memory takes on a surreal cast. I remember staring at the ring in the moonlight (really..it was a full moonlit night) and being so very surprised, and marveling at all the planning and secrecy keeping and THE CHANCE he took. What a chance, we had never discussed marriage, I could've said no, it was a risk.
I asked him later, to tell me the reason he had decided to propose in that way, with me not suspecting a thing. His answer was "if you knew it was coming, where's the romance in that? I wanted you to be so surprised, whether you said yes or no, I wanted you to be surprised."
Which I was, in more than just receiving the ring, but in him, and who he was, and how he made this plan of marriage more than just a proposal, but a memory.
And this reason is why this picture exists, showing me as a Mrs., when earlier that birthday evening, I had thought that he would be returning me home, vowing to stay a Miss.
My response, through grateful tears of relief: "Oh, thank god, I thought you were crazy." Which is, kind of, a Yes.