Tuesday, August 2, 2011

I'll Marry The Shit Out of You: An Engagement Story

Now that a date is set (May 12, yes, THIS COMING May) and it's really sunken in, I think it's time to tell the story of our engagement.

John and I both took an extra day off for a nice, long fourth of July weekend. He spent the first half with his family and then came down to Sea Isle for Sunday through Tuesday.

I called him on Saturday afternoon and he answered with "Hey there..." I was immediately suspicious of this atypical greeting and the conversation that followed a little strained. After hanging up, I told my dad, "Something's going on, something's up."

"Why?" my dad asked.

"John said 'hey there,' when he answered the phone," I told him.

"Oh, God, this is bad, what are you gonna do?" my dad replied before rolling his eyes and going back to his book.

I found out a few days later that in fact John had been in the middle of telling his family about his plan to propose when I called. I felt somewhat vindicated in my reaction to the "hey there" and will forevermore think something is cooking if I get that greeting.

The next day, John came down and we had a normal day at the beach and night hanging out at the house with my family. On Monday, John asked if we could go for a ride around the surrounding towns so he could see some of the places he visited as a kid. We drove around Avalon and Stone Harbour and I asked him what they'd looked like in the seventies. I believe his answer was "go scratch."

As we drove through Sea Isle, I pointed out the church I'd always wanted to get married in. He pulled over and we jaywalked over and went up the steps to try the doors. The church was locked, apparently praying on federal holidays is frowned upon. That didn't stop me from pretending to walk out of the doors holding a bouquet above my head. John grabbed my wrist like a referee proclaiming a boxer victorious after a knock-out. I imagined how great it would be to do that for real- walk out of the church with John I mean, not knock someone out, although that would be pretty cool too.

The rest of the day was normal, we had dinner with my family and then John suggested we go down to the beach early to claim a spot to watch the fireworks. I thought nothing of it, especially since one-on-one time can be tough to come by at the beach house. We went down and started smoothing out a blanket in the sand. As I learned later, John had planned to propose right then, but a family with a bunch of "rotten kids" set up next to us and ruined the moment. I, however, was completely unaware of any sort of moment, I was just trying to anchor the corners with flip flops.

Our spot established, John walked down to the water and I followed. I stopped short of where he was because if my feet got wet then the sand would stick to them, and I just wasn't in the mood for that. I told him so, not realizing his plans were once again being thwarted. He came up to where I was and, apparently was about to go down on one knee when I turned my head and saw my family and, in John's word, started waving my arms like a chimpanzee to direct them to our blanket. I started back up the beach, leaving him with his hand in his pocket, toying with a green velvet box wondering when he'd ever be able to get rid of it.

John joined us on the blanket and we settled in for the fireworks. The Sea Isle fireworks seemed to have been set off in reverse, kicking off with a fantastic, grand finale-like display and getting progressively less impressive. This made it hard to tell if and when they were ending. We lingered, watching the amateur fireworks being set off by individuals on the beach and looking to see if neighboring towns still had some firepower left. Eventually, my dad said he'd seen enough and was going back to the house. My sister and her boyfriend agreed and they all left. My mom, however, hates to miss any sort of pyrotechnic display. We once stood in a Target parking lot for a solid 20 minutes watching a smoking car. She finally realized it wasn't going to burst into flames and walked dejectedly back to our car.

She stood in the sand, turning back and forth to try to catch the best that both the north and south had to offer. Things were starting to slow down, but she just strained her eyes to try to see further. I, on the other hand, was ready to get going as I was getting eaten alive by mosquitoes. I told John and he said he just wanted five more minutes of fireworks and then, I imagine, stared my mom down, hoping to telepathically tell her to give up and go home.

The message was not going through.

She was too busy searching out any remaining spark. "I think there are some more a few blocks down."

"No, Mom, I'm pretty sure that's someone trying to light a cigarette a few yards away."

"Oh, well, it's still pretty."

Finally, after I again complained of mosquito bites, my mom looked down at us said she figured she'd go back.

"Yeah, we'll meet you up there in a few minutes," John told her.

He looked over his shoulder a few moments later, as he planned to get to his knee and saw her there, lingering on the path over the dunes, gazing skyward, zippo flames reflecting in her eyes and he waited a few minutes longer.

"John I really have to go, I have bites all over my legs," I told him.

"Alright, I can take a hint, let's go."

I stood up and John turned onto his hands and knees to gather up the blanket, then just stayed there on his knees. I looked at him with a "let's go, guy!" look and started to walk past him to get my flip flops. He caught my hand and as I looked back, he said "well, since I'm already on one knee..."

I looked and he was, in fact, on one knee. However, sinc John has a long running and well-documented reputation for jokes, pranks and all around teasing, I replied with a very romantic "shut up." Then I saw that he was reaching into his pocket.

I had a basic idea of what the girl is supposed to do when the man she loves gets down on one knee and produces a ring, but when it actually happened to me, it didn't even cross my mind to give him my left hand, cover my mouth with my right and weep prettily; I'm not even sure weeping prettily is something I'm capable of.

Before he could even finish what he was saying, I leaned over, threw my arms around him and buried my face in his neck saying "Really?! For real? Seriously? Right now? This is really happening right now?!?!"

"You have to let me say it, give me your little hand," he told me.

"Oh right, ok, here, umm ok, ahhh."

"Will you marry me?"

"YES, Yes yes yes yes!!!!" I collapsed back into the face-in-neck position.

We both stood up and hugged for a long time.

"You mean it?" he asked. "You'll really marry me?"

"I'll marry the shit out of you," I answered.

And I will.