Now, I could, and maybe will one day, bore you with long stories about how much I love this girl and so forth and all of the reasons why I’m prepared to make her the official mother of my two cats in both the eyes of the law and the Lord. But for now, let’s focus on the engagement process itself. This was an adventure, at least by my standards.
Like so many adventures, it all started on Columbus Day. I was off from work and my girlfriend’s father was over at the house helping me install some outdoor lighting. Of course, by helping I mean he was up on the ladder doing all the hard stuff while I stood idly on the sidelines, occasionally holding the ladder to make myself feel important. He’d just made some crack about how I was never going to marry his daughter and I saw my in. Essentially, it went like this: “Har-har, funny you should mention marriage … can I marry your daughter?” It’s graceful transitions like that which have endeared me to this family for nine years.
Amazingly and for reasons totally unknown to myself, he said yes. As far as I could tell, the next part of this process involved me actually buying a ring. I considered bringing my sister in on this step, but I’m a bit of a lone wolf when it comes to many aspects of my life, so I elected to forge ahead solo. I did what anyone my age does when they need some: I turned to the internet. I went to the websites of all of the major jewelry stores whose commercials I could remember, but I wasn’t happy with what I was seeing.
I didn’t just want your average diamond engagement ring because that wouldn’t be me or her. We’re both far too weird and socially awkward for something as traditional as a diamond. And hell, it might be nice to put something on her finger that some poor African guy didn’t get an arm cut off over.
After striking out online, I hopped in my time machine and during a lunch break, I went to the nearest shopping mall to look in what the elders call “brick and mortar” stores. I arrived in the mall, went upstairs to the first jewelry store and … walked right by it. I saw the second one approaching and … I walked right by that one too. I went downstairs, out the door and back to work. Now, don’t mistake this as cold feet about the engagement. This is the usually level of internal anxiety that I feel whenever I try to do anything remotely out of my comfort zone. Just the thought of having to converse with strangers about my personal life and ring sizes made me feel queasy.
The next day, I was determined to overcome that queasiness. I went back to the mall, went up the stairs and … walked right into the first jewelry store I saw. The nice lady behind the desk asked if I needed any help and like the cool-as-a-cucumber person I was pretending to be I squeaked out “No thanks!” I walked around the store, so nothing of interest and left, heading in the direction of the second and final store.
I approached and then walked in. The nice lady behind the counter asked if I needed help. Again, I said “No, thanks.” I walked among the cases and then my nightmare happened: a guy behind the counter asked if I needed help. I repeated my “No, thanks,” but he pressed on. “What are you looking for?” he asked. “What’s the occasion?” I replied with a “Just looking,” but he wouldn’t be dissuaded. “Anniversary? Birthday?” he inquired. “No reason!” I tried, but still, he pressed on. “Just buying for the heck of it, best reason to buy. What were you thinking of getting?” I had no interest in telling anyone what I was there for, let alone this son of a bitch who had apparently had his ability to take a hint surgically removed. I wanted to leap across the counter, boot him in the gut and hit a Stunner on him, then mount the counter and hold up my hands so his co-worker, who I’m sure was tired of his crap too, could throw me some beers. What I actually did was mumble something like “I dunno” and then wander off.
To be continued ...here