August 19, 2014 § Leave a comment
NEW TO YOU. I wrote this piece over a year ago as the final chapter of my manuscript (that is no longer a memoir, RIP). It’s only fitting I tell it now, on the 4 year anniversary of this blog. I was afraid you’d feel like I was no longer a bachelorette, so I held it close. I’m not a poser, but I believe my days as a true bachelorette are numbered. Please enjoy.
We watched the episode of Seinfeld where Jerry and guest star, Teri Hatcher, are pretend married so she can get a discount on her dry cleaning. Then Mister Red turns to me and asks, “Will you be my pretend wife?”
I quoted the 1995 film, Clueless, “as if?!” I capped it with an open mouthed blank stare even Cher Horowitz would roll her eyes at. “I’m pretty sure if I’m going to be anybody’s wife I won’t be playing pretend.”
There had been light discussion about rings and proposals since our shared Costco credit card had been in our wallets. But he totally brought it up first, so it wasn’t like I started giving him ultimatums about the wedding that had yet to be proposed. I didn’t even talk to him about it. I was still getting acquainted with it in my own head. And yeah, yeah, everyone says it happens when you’re not looking… blah, blah, blah. Idiots.
Did you know that the diamond ring marriage proposal was originally an insurance policy for deflowering a fair maiden? After she’s been poked, no one will want her, and if the engagement didn’t work out at least she’d have a ring to pawn off. That’s where the whole “two month’s salary” ring price came in. Kind of an elaborate prostitution scheme if you ask me. But then again, they aren’t called gold diggers and trophy wives because they are champion mineworkers.
My co-economical anxiety began to calm down. I had concluded sharing finances was the next step to being legally bound to my, and I use the term loosely, soul mate. I use the term loosely because I’m still not sure I believe in all the “every mitten has its mate” crap. But if I did, he’d be the left because I’m always right.
Mister Red asked me one Saturday morning while laying in bed, “why marriage? What would it mean? Would it be different?”
I had to think for a moment. I wanted to get married, but I wasn’t sure I had the best answer. My first thought was, ‘so you don’t run for the hills if I get fat.’ Truth. There is a sense of security in civil matrimony. Then I thought about marriage equality. The strength and security of same sex unions is still unrecognized by some states, yet those bonds stand firm with just vows to one another. I don’t want him to stay with me just because some lawyer might make it difficult to leave. I confessed my better answer.
“Because I want to be legally bound to you. I want to share everything with you. I want the tax breaks, I want to be able to visit you in the hospital, and I want to call you my husband out loud.” And then I revealed, “I already say it in my head sometimes. Is that weird?”
I was honest. A make-believe marriage was not going to cut it. I wanted the real legal deal. It seemed like he was gearing up for something so I told him when he was ready to plan the proposal he should talk to Miss Pepper, my ex-co-producer and reality dating show aficionado. After that it was as though I let a whole ant colony loose in his pants. Every two seconds he was checking in, “you still want to marry me, right?”
Mister Red would bring it up, but then abruptly end the conversation after getting irritable about money. I reassured him there was no rush. It would be better if we waited until my mother retired. Then she could plan the whole thing like she wants anyway.
Still he pressed. “But I wanted to do it months ago. I should have nailed you down by now.”
“You can nail me down anytime you want,” I said playfully, but that’s not what he meant. I had just gotten over my fear of sharing my money, ahem, our money. Truly, I’m in no rush, I get heart palpitations when I think about changing my last name.
We shelved the topic for a while after I got a phone call from my mother about the family dog passing. It seemed inappropriate to discuss eventualities with sorrows on the table.
My mother isn’t superstitious or even that spiritual, but she was raised Catholic and thinks it’s a good idea to say grace, pray, and go to church once in a while. You know, just in case. Way back before Mister Red and I were serious I told her of the coincidences between us, she just couldn’t listen.
“We’re born two days apart, same year. His parent’s met at Indiana University just like you and Dad. They got married in the same year you guys did. His dad’s from the east coast like you, and his mom’s from the mid-west like dad. His mom’s birthday is three days before yours, you all graduated in the same year, and they had a dog named Chelsea–“
“Okay stop it, I’ve heard enough. Too creepy.” My mom’s hometown is Chelsea. I guess it was a lot to take in. I had only known the guy for a week at the time.
Our family dog was named Murphy, ‘cause we’re Irish. My mom and dad had a little Irish wake for the beloved pet. The next day she was watching the news hoping her school day was cancelled due to unseasonable weather (and probably she was hung over). The only school closing was Murphy elementary. She was sure it was a sign from the dog in appreciation of the Irish wake. She thought that was creepy too.
The wedding that had yet to be proposed was back in the forefront of everyone’s minds when Mister Red and I journeyed to my hometown to attend another wedding. Los Angeles creates an environment allowing us to forget that most people in this country, maybe in the world, just want to love someone and have a happy, healthy family. In Tinsel Town it’s all about the big break. Small town Michigan has deep roots to its trees and so little transplants. Everyone had questions and expectations about our relationship, some of them putting the carriage before the baby.
“I guess you guys are next.”
“Have you thought about where you’re going to have it?”
“What would your dress be like?”
“I think I can find some maternity clothes in your size. How tall are you?”
I just showed them the back of my left hand to light heartedly poke fun at questions I didn’t know how to answer. People can be pushy when they think they know what’s best for you. However, I think it comes from a place called love.
We spent five days in the small town seeing family and friends, holding babies, toasting many drinks to many different things, and bearing witness to classy nuptials. My mother was able to hold her tongue about the wedding that had yet to be proposed, instead she rambled on about our late puppy.
By the time we left, Mister Red had gone cookoo for small town standards. My prettier half found himself indulging in something not abundant in LA. He could not stop talking about ring shopping and the names of our future children.
Isn’t it ironic that the first time I went out with Mister Red I had just returned from my hometown feeling the very same small townie sentiments? It was these same family values casting a spell on me when I summoned him in the first place. Back then I was hoping for a toasty fella antidote in escape of adult aspirations. Three years later, I had that same toasty fella inquiring about my ring size. Obviously, another plan backfired; the curse somehow swallowed us both into a domesticated wistful circle.
I had a hard time talking him down. What would take his mind off of matrimony? I couldn’t exactly bring him to yoga class to watch hot yogi girls handstand into down dogs when deep down I really did want him to propose. Instead, I agreed to ring shopping under the guise of learning my ring size, and also stipulating an acceptable sized diamond. The way he was talking he wanted to save up for several carats, but I didn’t want to wait forever for an eventual grandma ring. I’m one of those people who can’t have nice things anyway.
We were going to test some rocks after I taught a Pilates class, cause that was something I did in my new career. Mister Red, feeling extra attached, decided to accompany me to the studio. When we got there my boss politely brought us in on a little chit-chat.
“How was your weekend?” she asked.
“Good.” We answered in unison like a couple of four year olds at the dentist office.
“What do you have planned for the rest of it?”
Mister Red shot a look at me, “do you want to tell her?”
I froze and turned as red as his hair. Then, because I’m a bad liar and even worse under pressure, I blurted out, “We’re going ring shopping.”
I let her think it was a bigger deal than it was, most people are more excitable than me. I know he put me on the spot because he was just enthusiastic, but I was mortified and not ready to be sharing such truths.
Post Pilates and embarrassing myself in front of my superior, we were trying to pick a jeweler and also pretty hungry. Averaging the two, we picked something nearby a sandwich shop. And that’s how we roll.
When we finally got there I let Mister Red do the talking. Fortunately for me, my partner is a people person. Seriously, he’s a professional host, you should really hire him for your next event so you can attend your own party, it’s amazing.
This sales lady, Ruth, and Mister Red were chatting it up while she learned our names like all good sales people do. She helped another tall handsome man earlier by the same name, a firefighter. Blah, blah, blah, meanwhile I’m silently panicking as I glance around at all the sparkly things. My Nana is pretty into the bling so I’ve seen my fair share of glitz before, but I’ve never owned anything of the sorts.
So I was me and… I hardly said a word. Very passively smiling and nodding looking around trying to keep the butterflies down and my feet planted. As a little girl on Christmas morning, I reacted the same way, stoic and about to upchuck. Remember, I’m not a fan of a wrapped present or an expected surprise.
I did not behave like the average chick shopping for engagement rings. I was a deer in headlights. Good thing Ruth was reminding me of my name every 10 seconds or I would have forgotten.
I did know one thing about my future engagement ring, I wanted an emerald cut. It turns out to be the most expensive. What can I say, champagne taste, beer pocketbook. I was shown a couple of different cuts for the sake of size, and noticed they didn’t have at all what I wanted when Ruth interrupted my thoughts.
“Let’s try this one on, just to see the size of the diamond and how the cut looks on you.”
Ruth smiled and took my hand, which was shaking rather noticeably. “Ooooo! You have nice long fingers,” she said. This was news to me, but what was weirder than her remark about flanges was how the ring looked on my finger.
I was not ready to make a decision. We tried on several more, and I left more confused than when I came in.
I do not recall any of my gal pals going ring shopping. Either that, or it didn’t impact them like it did me. I didn’t know it would be so chilling. I was giggling nervously for at least an hour after. I told Mister Red we might need to go to a couple more jewelers to try on a few more rings before I felt totally comfortable. Later we met Sister Spills and her BF for drinks to take the edge off. Mister Red announced the news, of course. But why was this news?
“So did you tell your mom?” Sister Spills asks buying into the whole hoopla.
“Awe hell no. The last thing she needs is encouragement.”
I waited at least two weeks to tell my mom. I wanted to assure her it was not a big deal, we were just looking and I was petrified. Of course after our previous fights over the wedding that had yet to be proposed, she learned to keep her excitement to herself. A couple weeks later she shares with me that she purchased several bridal magazines.
“Just to look!” she says, “Just looking.”
Come to find out, she cleared the shelves of the season’s bridal magazines (which are the size of encyclopedias). I was beginning to think she’d have the cake baked before he’s even down on one knee.
I got a little lightheaded picturing Mister Red on one knee. I began to doubt I’d ever be ready. Maybe I wasn’t the marrying type? Maybe I’m just one Barbie who doesn’t come with a Ken? I’m like forever Skipper.
I thought back through the events of the ring browsing and remembered what Ruth said when she met Mister Red, “A tall handsome firefighter by the same name came in just yesterday.” My late grandfather was a tall handsome firefighter. Creepy? I tried to find other signs of reassurance in dead relatives. My grandma Lily had passed before I turned 21, she always said she’d take me to Vegas, Red had taken me to his hometown of Las Vegas many times. My paternal grandfather always winked at me. If Red didn’t wink at me there would be none of this. Getting creepier?
If my mother is allowed to think the dog sent her a message via an elementary school closure it’s acceptable for me to believe I was given my grandfather’s approval from a zealous jewelry dealer. In fact, it was probably my dead grandfather who made it his personal deceased business Mister Red and I meet. I began to relax about the whole thing because it was clearly meant to be. People condone it from the grave.
Before I started comparing Mister Red’s behaviors to my dead cat (midnight snacking), I worked up the courage to set a few things straight regarding my hand.
“If you’re going to propose there are a few rules.”
“Okay…?” He didn’t expect rules.
“You can’t let me see it coming. Buy the ring, but then don’t get all dancey and excited and blow the whole thing.”
“I can’t be expecting it, I’ll have too much anxiety about the whole event to be happy, and it will be weird and then we’ll have this awful engagement story about how I had bad lunch face.”
“Alright, I’ll try.”
“No, you cannot let me know. AT ALL.”
“Okay, you got it. What else?”
“Whatever you do, don’t do it at a restaurant. The whole eating thing… no, not while on one knee and a napkin on my lap. Don’t let me say ‘yes’ with a napkin on my lap!”
“Got it, no restaurant. What about a baseball game?”
I shot him a glare. “This isn’t the time for jokes.”
“I wasn’t joking.”
“You don’t even like baseball.”
“I know I was joking.”
“Just don’t let me know it’s coming.”
“But you’re going to say yes?”
He didn’t like that, but it didn’t deter him. He knows I’m going to say yes. We’d skip the ring, the planning, and the wedding to elope if my mother didn’t tell Mister Red she would murder him if he let that happen. She literally said she’d kill him.
A couple of weeks later I was asked to be a bridesmaid for the 6th time, and it stung just a little. “Always a bridesmaid,” I sulked. But wait, I’m petrified of this whole event, I curl up into a ball when discussing the wedding that has yet to be proposed. I shouldn’t be jealous, it should be more practice so I don’t run scared screaming when it happens to me.
I don’t know if I’m ready, or if I’m not ready, or maybe it’s just gas. I do know that Mister Red is the fork to my spoon, the butter to my toast, the plug to my outlet. Who else is going to throw pens at hipsters in traffic, watch 60 Minutes, and call his Dr. Dad every time I have a bladder infection? He makes a good companion, even if he doesn’t have enough money to buy me a rock just yet, and my dead relatives agree.
Maybe we won’t have a million and ten babies, maybe we won’t be rich, maybe we’ll just continue to look horrible on paper and fight uphill battles on fixed gear bikes. Maybe he’ll wait seven more years to propose and drive my mother nuts. Maybe that’s just fine. It’s not the ring that matters. Rings can be given back, pawned off, and traded in for hard cash.
I only needed to know one thing.
“Can you see yourself with me for the rest of your life?” I asked, whole-heartedly.
“Sure. If I squint,” he said with out batting an eye. It really is his personal mission to make me laugh. I can’t help but love the man with a sense of humor, and he does have a grin like a Ken doll. If his head doesn’t pop off I think we might actually make it down the aisle—
Before the end of time.