As we walked along the rain-drenched bricks, I checked my pocket to make sure it contained the precious cargo. Still there. I tried to make normal conversation as we got closer to the river.
“Wow, this tree is historic,” I muttered. (Actually, that counts as “normal conversation” for me.) We continued down the uneven sidewalk until we reached the riverside. I checked my pocket again. Still there.
As we approached the water, I struggled to hide my hands, which trembled like an old man trying to thread the eye of a needle. I hoped she didn’t see the square bulge in my pocket, hidden somewhat by my strategically placed keys and cell phone.
We stopped walking. Showtime! I handed her my cup of coffee. (She would later question why I would hand her a scalding cup of coffee at this monumental moment, to which I had no real answer.) I slowly got on one knee, pulled the trinket from my overloaded pocket, and said, “I think it’s about time we got married.”
This was met with one “Okay,” a chorus of “Oh my God”s, and some sort of dance, which consisted of arm flailing and spinning. I fully expected her to spike the coffee like a football and do the Ickey Shuffle.
After the awkward flailing had subsided, I finally was able to get off my knee and deliver the prize to my lady. We embraced/kissed/cried for the next five minutes. We were both shaking, overcome with joy, anxiety, love, hope, happiness, joyous anxiety, and hopeful happilovinessity. Immediately, she began to call everyone.
She started with her mom, who was actually surprised. Then, her dad, who stated that he couldn’t wait to have my babies. She proceeded to text and call all of her friends, procuring a bridal party before I had told one person. I had never seen fingers fly over a keypad faster in my life. Engagement rings are apparently like speed for women. She didn’t take her eyes off her ring for about eight hours.
The next day we drove up to New Jersey to tell my family the news. While her family had been surprised, my family was not. Upon entering my sister’s house, she immediately grabbed my new fiancée’s hand and started to squeal a squeal that I would become familiar with over the next couple weeks. The standard response that weekend was a congratulations, followed by a hug, and “it’s about time!” Everyone expected it. Not a single person was surprised — not even my 3-year-old niece, who claimed her role in the wedding by saying, “Maybe I can be your flower girl.”
I was in a haze the entire weekend. I experienced a sense of complete joy, and the feeling of stress leaving my body. I had finally done the deed. The stress of finding a ring, spending loads of money on said ring, carrying around the ring in my pocket all day, and picking the right moment to ask her, was over. All the stress was done.
Or so I thought.
After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Admiral Yamamoto wrote, “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant.” The sleeping giant that I had awoken is named “Wedding.” Apparently, there’s something called a wedding ceremony, and I have to be a part of the planning of this ceremony. Why didn’t anyone tell me this?
I cannot believe how many things need to be done for a wedding. Some things are hard to decide, while others are harder. First, we had to pick a date, which seems pretty simple. It’s not. We knew we wanted summer of 2009, but couldn’t decide on when. At first, it was June. Then, July. Then, August. Then, July again. At last, we (I use this term loosely) decided on August 8, 2009, because the eights are lucky in most cultures.
I was hoping this would be the last of my involvement in the decision-making process. Sadly, once again, I was wrong. The litany of things to do is:
- Book church
- Book priest, rabbi, shaman, or snake-handler
- Find and book reception hall (Hooters is not acceptable, apparently)
- Create guest list of friends and family to invite, which may include people I haven’t seen in 15 years
- Decide on bridal party
- Find three more friends for male half of bridal party
- Pick colors for the wedding (cammo is not a color)
- Pick theme for the wedding (“Under the Sea” is not appropriate)
- Book a caterer by eating a lot of food and cake
- Book a DJ, band, barbershop quartet, or chanters
- Find a florist
- Take allergy medicine
- Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
- Get marriage license
- Get blood test
- Get colonoscopy
- Decide on wedding invitations
- Find a dress and tuxedo
- Force bridal party to find dresses and tuxedos
- Figure out what is not on this list, but should be.
- Cry, pee pants, and hide in corner
- Get married
- Live happily ever after
At least I’m looking forward to number 25.