"There's only one hard and fast rule in running: sometimes you have to run one hard and fast."

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Stories of Marriage Proposals

[It's been a while since I did a personal post. People seem to like them.]

I saw the building where my parents met was torn down this week. I know that story; Dad's paycheck didn't reflect his recent raise and Mom was working in payroll (so she knew exactly how much he earned right from the start... clever girl). Then it occurred to me that I never heard their engagement story, presumably because it was as boring as the meeting one; still, it was during World War II and he was much older and was a widower with a son closer to her age, so I wonder how he popped the question.

Almost everyone who reads this blog is (or was) married. Tell me your engagement stories! I've never been married, but I've been engaged twice. Neither story is normal.

#2: Lori (2002)

I'd been thinking of marrying Lori since almost the moment we met, but there were obstacles. We lived in different cities and she was as attached to Chicago as I am to my home. I'd been taking care of my mother, who was in the moderate stages of Alzheimer's at the time. Marrying Lori was a package deal: I'd have to move, put my mother in a home (and sell the house I wanted to live in... and do happen to live in now) and take over Lori's father's business - marrying the bosses' daughter - a small publishing firm; I had no experience or training or aptitude for it and the industry is slowly dying.

I flew to Chicago and looked for the right time, but it just never seemed to arrive. It was getting close to time for me to leave when I said, "Lori, there's something I've been meaning to ask you." At that moment, I saw over her shoulder a photo of Dave, her late husband.... great, just great. I got down on one knee, pulled out the ring and asked if she'd marry me. Her response?

"Yes, I'll marry you. At 1:30 PM, September 5th at ______ Church. You need to approve the guest list, choose a best man, buy a new suit and write your own vows."

I loved that she specified "PM." That was pure Lori. "Honeymoon?"

"My father's present to us is a week in Eleuthera. You will like it."

"How long have you been planning this?"

"I booked the reception hall two years ago."

I ended up getting cold feet. It was too much change all at once for me. We canceled the wedding, but not the engagement. Every now and then, for years, one of us would call the other and ask, "Are we still engaged?"

The other story is a weird story. I'll save that for another post.


Glaven Q. Heisenberg said...

Yours is at least interesting. (Your engagement story, I mean. I want to make THAT clear.)

Mine? Boring as they come. We backed into it via stories of how we'd do things differently from the way all of Teh 'B.'s friends (who all seemed to be getting hitched at the time) were doing it. "O, we'd do THIS, not THAT"; "I'd never use THAT caterer"; "We'd pay for the wedding ourselves so NO ONE ELSE could feel they have a say in how we do it"; etc.

We realized at some point in all of that we have transitioned into being ringlessly engaged. No question was ever popped.

Anonymous said...

The girl I was living with one day asked me to marry her. There was a lot to consider, so I took my time and six months later said yes, on the condition that we have no children.

A little while later I took half a day off at work and met her at Daley Plaza and we got hitched in the basement of the City Building. When we walked out to the plaza I saw the Clark Street bus pulling up and our transfers had not yet expired, so I ran to the bus, while my new wife saw that they were giving away free Snapple next to the Picasso, but the line was long, and I told her let's save some money and get on the bus, so she reluctantly passed on the Snapple.

On our one year anniversary I bought her bottle of Snapple, but my face turned red when I saw that I had accidentally given her the diet version of the drink.

She left me last year.....

Biki said...

Great story ! It that what is called a "control freak" ???

Colin said...

No interesting engagement story here ... at some point it sort of dawned on us that we were already basically engaged, so we went ring shopping and made it official.

I have a theory that the strength and longevity of a marriage is inversely proportional to how interesting the engagement story is.

wildknits said...

Better than my engagement story (like others, simply fell into it) is the story of picking up our marriage license. Our wedding was to be at a friends cabin outside Hayward, Wi (on a cranberry bog).

We had driven up in our VW bus (1971 poptop) and were hanging out at the cabin, visiting with our friends and doing some maintenance on the bus (a constant with old VW's) when it caught on fire. Gas fire to boot.

Call was placed to the volunteer fire department while we started a chain to haul water up from the pond in an attempt to control the fire.

First vehicle to pull up.... VW Beetle! But by then we had the fire out ;->

Drove the bus for quite awhile with scorch marks at the rear air vents.

Helen said...

this is good stuff. I've been away from blogs for too long... i am not sure which story i like best but if i ever have one to share i think i will have to share it in Steve's blog post comments - it seems appropriate.

PiccolaPineCone said...

my engagement story is too mundane to share but i am starting a chant: "second engagement story!", "second engagement story!". hmmm, it's not a very catchy or hythmic chant, perhaps that's why no one is chanting it with me. but, regardless, i would like to hear it.

word verification: spillit

(no, not really)

Jean said...

Great story, Steve (and I like Wildknits' story too! Old VW's are awesome!).

I've never been married or engaged. In fact, with the girl I was closest to being engaged to, the mere discussion of marriage was all it took to end that relationship! (Which, in hindsight, was probably a good thing)

olga said...

First time? We dated for a year, but back in Soviets there are no engagements or extra rings. After 1 month of separation (while each worked in Siberia camps building roads, different places), we reunited and simply went to city hall to apply for a license (3 months wait). On the way back home, walking by the garbage container, I said I'd like an official prorposal. He said something like "so, whatever, lets do it?".
Somewhere midway that marriage I met my first ex-boyfriend while visiting Russia. He was a millionare and a head of Moscow mafia by then. I spent a month back home, and he and his "people" drove my family around at the snap of my finger (no back thoughts here!) On my return, one of his "right hands" found my phone at work (which I never gave anyone) and said if I come back and marry dude (who was also married by the way) I'll get $2mil and anything I want. Come to think about it, my then-husband was a graduate student with a $15,400 stipend...I hung up.
My last time we dated 2,000 miles away by flyign to races together (as you know). For my birthday we went to GC and I hoped to hear the question there (most romantic place by my definition). He did it 2 weeks later, when I visited him at his place, in the middle of the night. No question was asked, and I kind of stumbled upon his preparation with rose petals and put a ring on my fingers:) I stil tease him on no proposal. Not to mention we got married on the trail:)) One day, when we kick the kids out of the house and move out of this insane place, we'll get it right...

joyRuN said...

Hehe - I guess she was wondering what took you so long.

Mine's not all that. I was hungover in bed & asked him to come over w/ Gatorade. He walked into my room w/ the Gatorade, but then I saw he had something else too. So I kept hounding him to show me what he had - turned out it was an engagement ring.

Kathleen said...

My husband took me out to dinner on my birthday. We went back to my apartment and were talking and cuddling on my bed (in my small couch-free apt.) when he asked.

Then, he got mad at himself because he's a very proper guy and he said that when people asked where he proposed it would be the bed. I told him we didn't have to tell people; we could just say we were back at the apartment.

Interestingly, he has completely blocked out that part. ("I didn't ask you to marry me on your bed!!!!")

I also didn't say yes right away. I told him I needed to "think about it." In truth, he had sort of surprised me with the proposal. He had thought we had talked about it enough previously that I would expect it. I was used to men I was dating talking about marriage and I didn't take it too seriously.

Plus, I would never say yes to a job offer right away, and this was a bigger life decision. The next day, I said yes. No, I'm not particularly romantic, which has its disadvantages (I think about marriage proposals) and advantages (I don't expect flowers or big gestures. Ever.).

To this day, we cannot watch a movie proposal without him making some crack, "See, she did it right. She didn't make him wait 24 hours."

SteveQ said...

@Biki: I was concerned that I'd never make another decision in my life.

@Colin: The other story really proves your point!

@Wildknits: I have a VW microbus story, too... Yours is better.

@Olga: When my friend Scott married a woman from Russia, I learned a lot about the different traditions, but somehow his story didn't involve the mob!

Mark H. said...

Very short summary. Fast paced and long ago:
July - placed personal ad in Twin Cites Reader and K responded.
August - proposed and got a Yes response from K.
November - Married K.
That was 20 years ago and so far, so good!

RBR said...

We had been together for 8 years (both dating and living together, but I think you know that story) One night we were watching "A Perfect Murder" the one where the guy hires his wife's lover to kill her, and Eddy says, without even looking at me, "You know, we can't get married if you do not pick out a ring"

The one time we went to look at rings together he had to leave the store because he looked like he was going to puke. I have a picture from our wedding day that has a similar expression.

Anyhoo... my buddy and I went and picked the ring, he went and bought it (in his defense he upgraded the center stone) I came home from work one day, covered in kitten shit from a particularly gruesome day in veterinary medicine, and before I had even set down my bags, he says "Here" and hands me the ring.

That was my proposal. His penance (besides being married to my crazy ass) is that I tell this story at ANY given opportunity.