February 17, 2010

The proposal story

We thought it'd be more convenient to have our guests RSVP to a wedding website rather than via return cards, so I found a template online and set it up (you would think someone who worked for a company who builds websites would be more creative, no?) and there are all these pages of STUFF to fill in, like an "About Us" page, which - really? Like someone who knows absolutely nothing about me is going to be at our wedding. And even if there is an aunt or uncle on the other side of the family who doesn't know a whole lot about me save for the fact that I am marrying their nephew, really they're going to want to read a cheesy bio? Is there a quiz later?

What I am trying to say is that the pre-made sites are kind of lame and we did the best we could with what we had. We tried to make the words on the pages sound as if we were talking to our guests and I think we did a decent job of making our voices evident. See if you can tell what SK is like by his written words...

The story of the proposal does not begin with a romantic, moonlit meal on the coast of Jamaica. It actually begins several weeks previous on what was supposed to be a standard, mid-week meal with Cheryl's parents at the Saltgrass Steakhouse sometime shortly after Thanksgiving. Standard. Tommy and KJ. Cheryl and me. Food and drink.

Dinner went as usual with the women electing to entertain with the news and social judgments of the day, and the men choosing fewer words than sips of bourbon or whiskey. When dinner ended, the women left to go shopping and I figured I'd be on my way home until Tommy invited me to have another drink at the bar. My response was cool and in the affirmative, but my heart raced. Though I had planned on doing it later, now was the perfect time to ask Tommy for his approval to propose to Cheryl. Not that I'm a fan of tradition-- which will be evident from the horseshoes and ping pong that will be at the wedding--but asking the father's approval seems to be a great way to fool everyone into believing that I'm a great guy. Which I am to be sure.

The prospect of asking Tommy's approval to propose marriage to his daughter filled me with a trepidation verging on paralysis. Fortunately, I didn't have much time to think about it once we were sitting in the bar and, of course, I was swimming in the bravado afforded me a couple whiskeys. What exactly was my fear? Was it a fear of physical violence? Would Tommy literally beat me mercilessly for even thinking I could marry his daughter? The thought may seem ridiculous, but a person can only hear so many samurai sword jokes before the myth becomes truth. Was it fear of rejection? That too might seem ridiculous as I had been, in a sense, a part of the family already for some time (a fact evinced by the booby mug given to me one Christmas-- a rich family tradition), but there is a significant disparity between the tacit appreciation Tommy and I had for one another and the vulnerability inherent in explicitly asking for his approval-- his acceptance. Either I'm cool or I'm not. No getting out of there without the answer.

The conversation was pleasant as we spoke about family, focusing most of our attention on our admiration and hopes for Cheryl's younger brother Kevin who is in the Air Force and will most likely be deployed to Afghanistan in the coming months (the justification for such a hastily planned wedding--gotta make sure Kevin can be there). I'm sure there were other topics of conversation, but they don't exist in any part of my memory as at the time my sole focus was to find some witty segue into my primary concern of the evening.

Something to be understood: Heroes have the ability to fight against the inertia caused by fear in the face of various conflicts. The hero maintains the acute ability to act appropriately and effectively, but, more importantly, to think quickly in order to triumph over myriad adversaries.

As it turns out, I am no hero.

I could think of no witty transition and ended up settling on something quite the opposite of clever, "Well, enough about (whatever we were talking about), I need to talk to you about something." Yep. Brilliant. No time to turn back now.

I laid forth the plan for the proposal and Tommy listened with what seemed to be amused solemnity. Here's me at the tail end of explaining my plan, "... and that's when I'll ask her to marry me, but I wanted to get your approval first."

Tommy responded immediately with a tension-easing, jocular, "Do you know what you're getting yourself into?"

I laughed, relieved by his humorous response.

"No. Really. Do you know what you're getting yourself into?"

Oh. Not a joke. Less relieved.

The conversation turned into a rational discussion between a father who truly loved his daughter and wanted to be sure she'd be cared for and the man who would be doing so. It caught me off guard, but it was perfect. All topics were up for discussion. He asked questions about children and family and Cheryl's disposition which can be, at times, cantankerous (to be polite). (As a side note, Angry Cheryl will be perfectly manageable as I've learned several coping strategies for such behavior by watching Tommy deal with Angry KJ. In short, I am to shut up my mouth, nod my head in compliance, and let the storm blow itself out.)

My answers were apparently sufficient as immediately after the interview Tommy shook my hand firmly, smiled slightly, and said he would be pleased with the marriage. I was so filled with euphoria that I didn't even have the common sense enough to ask Tommy if he wanted to have another drink to celebrate. Oops. There'll be plenty of time for that though. I was out the restaurant shortly after, filled with confidence and sure that no other part of the proposal would be tough. Asking Cheryl would be no task. And it wasn't.

Fast forward to New Years Eve Eve and Cheryl and me in Jamaica. After a frustrating 12 hours of traveling we were still dressed in our stinkin' travel clothes, but at least at our resort sitting in an outdoor restaurant right on the water. The moon was bright and full. The breeze was cool and soothing. The water smelled clean and tumbled in lightly. She had no idea. I asked. She said yes with tears in her eyes.

We spent the rest of the evening making phone calls to family and friends. By "we" I mean she because while she called, I watched college bowl games. It seemed a fitting beginning to the engagement; we often enjoy each others' company while doing completely different things. It's cool. And though I was watching the games, I really just enjoyed listening to Cheryl laugh as she spread the news of the proposal.

Was I nervous when I asked? My hand was shaking a bit and my heart was beating fast, but I'm sure I wasn't nervous. It was one of the easiest things I've ever done in my life. I have no fears for this relationship as the thought of Cheryl always fills me with the most profound sense of happiness and contentment.


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