Monday, October 24, 2016

Semi-Decent Proposal

One year late in the spring I am at the beach, and find myself in what can only be described as the world’s most heinous piano bar. The pianists, if I may use that term loosely, are spouting distasteful sodomy jokes (are there tasteful ones?) with disconcerting frequency. Perhaps they mixed in a few other jokes as well, but much like an imagined prison stay, it’s the sodomy you remember.

I am sitting between the girl I’ve been courting for quite some time and my ex-best friend’s wife, wracking my brain for a way to get the former to leave so the latter and I can have a couple of minutes alone.

You may be wondering, much like I was at the time: how did I wind up here?

It all began with a boy, a plan, and a healthy dose of absentmindedness.

First, the plan. We’d go for a walk on the beach, a place sewn into both our souls. I’d kneel down and propose in Spanish — she had lived in Spain for four months — reciting the words on the folded piece of paper I had kept in my wallet and rehearsed so carefully. Granted, it wasn’t any elaborate plan, but it was mine. I’d even gone old school and ask her Dad's permission. He, the jeweler, and I were the only people who knew anything at all about it.

We were on our way to the coast, thirty minutes into the five-and-a-half-hour trek when it hit me. (Apologies in advance for the language.)


A pause.

“Crap! Crap, crap, crap!”

“What’s wrong? Did you forget something?”

“Uh…. no.” An obvious lie.

“Are you sure? We can go back.”

“No. It’s fine.”

But it wasn’t fine. My non-elaborate plan had but one tiny flaw: I must not forget the ring!

We couldn’t go back for it. Even if we did backtrack, adding an hour to our trip, when I came out of the house, she’d be expecting me to be carrying something. Try as I might, I couldn’t think of anything to pretend I had forgotten that might seem worth going back for.

And so, we continued southward, past the familiar rolling hills north of Birmingham, my mind a million — er, thirty — miles away.

I could propose without a ring. She would be confused, at best; disappointed, at worst. Else I would have to wait until we returned and come up with some other probably even less elaborate plan. My heart sank into the pit of my stomach.

I texted my ex-best friend’s wife: “You will not believe what I did!”

And now four people knew.

(It seems worth noting here the reason he is my ex-best friend is simply because we drifted apart once he got married and then went off on some radical religious tangent. Nothing too sinister.)

They happened to be coming to the beach that same weekend. She was full of questions: Was there anyone who had a key to the house? Yes. The girl who would be coming by to feed Tony DiNozzo, my third-born Betta.

OK, so I guess it was just the one question. They would conspire. She would retrieve the ring from my underwear drawer — the place all men keep their valuables. I assume — and bring it South.

They would arrive Saturday afternoon. We would be departing for home Sunday morning. It would be tight, but it could be done. I was almost confident.

I had one last directive:

“Make sure you don’t get the wrong ring.”

“There’s more than one ring???”

“I was engaged before.”

Obviously, bringing the wrong ring could turn what I was naively optimistic was going to be a decent engagement story into one that would be… well, probably not even an engagement story at all.

Saturday evening, the prospective Fiancee Bone and I grabbed some seafood at Kenny D’s, then drove across the bridge to Okaloosa Island and the aforementioned Sodomy Saloon, the rendezvous point suggested by my now ring-bearing friend. It had taken some convincing on my part. It being our last night on the beach, the Prospective One wasn’t overly keen on spending part of it with my ex-best friend’s wife. But I persuaded her. Or more accurately, annoyed her about it until she relented. This is how I operate.

We got to the door. I nearly turned back. Cold feet? No. Ten dollar cover charge. Which, if you’ve never dated anyone, meant twenty dollar cover charge. I figured it up, it came to about a dollar forty-three cents per sodomy joke. I don’t know what the going rate is, but that seemed a tad high.

We must have sat there at least forty-five minutes. She who bore my ring and I casting glances at one another, trying to figure out how to make the exchange. (Which, as it turns out, you cannot do through glances alone.) She who may hopefully someday bear my child growing more agitated with each excruciating moment. Finally, an idea. My first.

“Do you need to go to the bathroom?” Prospective fiancee always had to go.

“No.” Of course.

At that point, I swear I began to see smoke. I’m not sure if it was from the bar or literal steam rising from her increasingly infuriated (and oh so adorable) head, but considering it was a non-smoking bar…

Then Ring Bearer excused herself to go to the restroom. I sat there for a good thirty seconds, clueless.

Oh! It hit me. "Um, I guess I’ll go, too.”

There was a lobby outside the restrooms. Ring Bearer wasn’t there when I went in. Thankfully, she was waiting when I had finished making my deposit. We made the swap. I pondered how many transactions just like this must have taken place in this very spot. Probably not many.

By now, it had gotten to be the sleepy side of 10 p.m. With a bit of a drive still ahead, I thought it would be too late to suggest a walk on the beach once we got back to the room. She would be suspicious. So instead, I suggested we go for a walk on the pier not far from the bar. Just the two of us. (I'm pretty sure that part was integral.) She agreed.

Partway down the pier, between people fishing and... other people fishing, I stopped and leaned against the rail. We chatted for a bit, looking out over the ocean and back towards the hotels and lights along the shoreline. It truly was gorgeous, out here, away from all the sodomy.

When I caught her looking away, I pulled the ring box out of my pocket. When she turned back I smiled and, gazing into those eyes so full of love — although maybe not quite as full as they had been a couple of hours ago — said, “Has anyone told you lately they want to spend the rest of their life with you?”

I then proceeded to kneel, and right there next to a sign that read “No fishing or diving,” I jumped right in.


She said yes. Eventually. Turns out at first it was so dark she couldn't see the ring. But I did get the Spanish right. Later she asked what I would've done if I'd dropped the ring into the ocean, you know, since it was right there and all. I had honestly never considered that, not surprisingly. We would be married about 80 miles down the coast a little over a year later. I volunteered her to be in charge of the rings.

"Someday somebody's gonna ask you / A question that you should say yes to / Once in your life / Maybe tonight I've got a question for you..."


  1. "I figured it up, it came to about a dollar forty-three cents per sodomy joke."

    Never thought I would read that line in a post about a marriage proposal! Outstanding right up as usual. I miss your humorous posts and hope these last couple are a trend starting up.

    I don't know if you ever listened to Paul Harvey growing up but about here he would say, "And now you know the REST of the story!"

    1. Thanks, Ed. I hope so, too. Oh yeah, I heard a few Paul Harvey segments back in the day.

  2. Wow Bone! You really know how to show a girl a great time. ;) I think she forgave you.

    1. Oh yeah, turns out that was nothing compared to what happened the night before the wedding :) :-O

  3. Definitely one of my most favorite things you have written. I'm so happy that you are posting again! It makes me want to write something.

    1. Thanks for the very kind words. As Yoda might say, "Write something, you should."

  4. Are you SURE you didn't "forget" the ring on purpose to get a better story out of it? Seems like something you'd do :)

    1. Eh, I seem to get myself into these situations plenty, without any added effort.