Monday, September 2, 2013

The Second Proposal

The story of my husband's proposal is a funny one, and I'll try to write about it this week, but for my first September post, I want to share the second proposal -- the time I proposed to him.

It was a late night in Vermont, back in 2003. If I remember correctly, we had gone up to Joan's house to see new pug puppies. Joan is my sister-in-law's (Kim's) friend. (You can read about Kim's pug adventures and her life as a writer/photographer/all-around-amazing gal here: www.pugsandpics.com.)

The four of us were headed back down the mountain at about 9pm -- Mark, Mark's mom (Betsy), Kim, and me. We hadn't eaten dinner, so Kim suggested an old-fashioned diner in the center of an old town square that she drives through on her way home from Joan's. I've always been a fan of all things vintage, antique, and home-town-friendly, so I felt right at home wandering into the old diner, pulling up a rickety chair, and grabbing a sticky menu.

We visited for awhile, then a waitress came to our table. She could have walked right off the set of Fried Green Tomatoes -- plaid dress, apron, slightly disheveled hair, friendly face. The special was meatloaf, mashed potatoes (with gravy, of course), and maple-glazed carrots. To this day, this is still one of our favorite family meals and brings back fond memories for me, regardless of what happened after I ate it.

We didn't have to wait long. The waitress showed up at our table with hot plates. We all dug in and continued our conversation. The meal was outstanding -- meatloaf perfectly seasoned, mashed potatoes as fluffy as heaven's clouds, salty brown gravy, offset splendidly by the sweet maple glaze on the carrots. I devoured all of it then ordered a slice of homemade apple pie. Oooh-wee!

Those of you who are regular readers know that I've had a recent run-in with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome, to the layperson). What you may not know is that I've had random bouts of it my entire life. So, why on earth I would decide to eat all that food on a late night road trip, in a back-woods diner, is still a mystery to me. The meatloaf simply beckoned, and... I answered the call.

Halfway through my apple pie, I felt that familiar gurgle and warm dread pass through my intestines. I knew I was about to be extremely and violently ill. Gulp. I didn't know Mark's mom and sister very well at that point in our relationship. And, though Mark and I had known each other for 2 years, I still hadn't reached that comfort level where there was complete disclosure about all of my stomach issues.

I daintily excused myself.

A hand-painted, wooden sign directed me to the restrooms. I stepped down a few stairs and into a long corridor. I can only assume that the building was so old that it originally didn't have an indoor bathroom. It appeared that, sometime in the 1920s, someone had slapped up some uninsulated walls and attempted to make a hallway that led to one closet-sized "washroom." In the corridor, the air was cold. I suppressed a chill that tried to creep up my spine. The floor was crooked, and I walked drunkenly to the very end of the hallway.

The doorknob was ice cold too. I grabbed it, swung the door open and gasped. The horror! The bathroom wasn't exactly clean. The toilet leaned to one side, or maybe it was the floor. I felt disoriented and grabbed for the wall. I tried to focus but was distracted by a grinding noise above my head. I looked up to see a yellowed ventilation fan. I think it was coughing. But, worse than all that, stuck to the side of the fan was a wasps' nest about the size of a softball. Wasps were swarming everywhere.

I can't blame them for being angry. I imagined that there was some kind of wasp uprising when they found out where Willy Wasp had decided to construct their nest. It looked like they were trying to make the most of it, but they were not thrilled to see me enter their domain.

Also, I'm terrified of wasps. I've never been stung, and my ever-expanding list of anxieties includes dying from bee stings. I never should have watched My Girl that one time my parents weren't home.

Before me was the golden throne, my buried treasure, fame and glory, and the only thing standing between me and that was... wasps. The dirty toilet seat didn't matter any more. I fought back tears then ran out, back to the table where Mark was.

"Hey Mark?" I said, pleadingly.
"Yeah?"
"Um, the bathroom is..."

Kim and Betsy looked up at me expectantly. "It's just, um... there are wasps, and... Mark, I need you."

Once we got away from the table and into the corridor leading to the bathroom, I grabbed him by the shoulders. "Listen. It's bad in there." I prepped him for battle, "I'm not sure there's anything you can do, but I have to... use the bathroom, quite badly, and I just don't know what to do." Tears filled my eyes.

He said calmly, "It's okay. I'll go in with you."
"It's the WOMEN'S restroom!! You can't do that... that's... not allowed."
"It's fine... it's 10pm on a Sunday. No one's coming in here."
"You can't... what if you get in trouble?"
"Let me just check it out."

He disappeared inside the bathroom. I waited outside, expecting to have to explain the situation to the next woman who ventured down the hall to use the restroom. No one came. I stepped inside.

Mark was investigating. "Yep, wasp nest."
"I'm really afraid of them."
"Well, just go pee, and I'll swat them."
"That's just it... I'm... not feeling well."
"Oh, well ok. Just go."
"Seriously??! I don't think I can."
"Well, this is your only option."

I quickly put down some protective toilet paper on the not-so-clean seat and proceeded to get violently ill while apologizing to Mark over and over... and over again. He swatted wasps as they flew in my direction.

Finally, I just broke down and sobbed.

"Hey... hey, what's wrong?" he said softly, swatting away.

And I bawled a long soliloquy that went something like this... "I'm just embarrassed... and happy. No one would do this for me. No one. Ok, maybe a select few family members, but you have to understand, I don't think I could do this with anyone else. I don't think I could go through life with anyone else. Because this is life, you know? (sob, hiccup) Will you marry me?"

We laughed. He said, "Yes, of course."

We went back to the table, where I finished my apple pie. Then we headed home, back down the winding mountain roads from where we came, and into an 8-year marriage and parenthood together.

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1 comment:

Janice Gifford said...

LOL, such a funny post!