It was a year ago today. Or I guess, to be more accurate, it was a year ago tomorrow, but just past midnight. Thanks in part to my favorite librarian sharing the link with almost everyone she knows, the story has been read more than any other I have posted, but the full story has never been told. The big date is now less than a month away, November 26th. The day after Thanksgiving. Black Friday.
This morning, Maureen and I visited this little Italian lady who is a jeweler and a friend of a friend. We had not even thought about our rings until one night a couple of weeks ago when we were sitting on the couch and I casually said, “So what are we going to do about rings?” Suddenly we found ourselves at the mall suffering from an acute case of sticker shock. Have you seen all those ads where you can bring in your unused gold for big bucks? Well that is just great for those who are trying to unload gold, but for those of us in the market for a couple of gold rings, the record high prices are not all that welcome. So after talking to a few people and hearing on more than one occasion, “Don’t worry about it, I have a guy,” we finally found a pair of matching, very plain white gold bands for a very reasonable price.
As Maureen and I sat at the kitchen table eating lunch today, she was trying on her new ring for about the tenth time, and when I looked up she was in tears. “Don’t worry, these are good tears,” she said to me through a running nose and sniffles. It was in that moment that I decided the full story of that night one year ago needed to be told, along with a little confession. I guess I should start with the confession.
The ring is a fake.
Oh, not the ones we picked up today. Those are real. And exactly what I would want. I was a little surprised when Maureen picked them out. She had told me so many times that she already felt like we were married, so I guess the fact that all she really wanted was something to look at to confirm what she already felt makes all the sense in the world. Those rings wont leave a stain on our fingers. Unlike the other ring. It’s a fake, and it did stain. And it fell apart. Exactly like I was afraid it would, and that is why it sat in my desk at work for as long as it did. You see, I was having money problems. To some extent I still am, but the light at the end of the tunnel is so close we can almost touch it, and after more than two years of fighting with my bank, the mortgage is fixed, and the new loan takes effect in December.
Quick side note. Next time you hear one of those loud mouthed extreme conservative types shouting about the scam that was the stimulus package and that it didn’t help the everyday average guy, you can tell them it did. Without that program, I would have lost my house. I lost half the equity in the divorce, and then the value of the house dropped by more than $50,000. If it were not for that program, I would have been just another statistic.
And that brings me back to the ring. I couldn’t afford one. So I bought one on the internet. It’s not like I ordered it from Ray’s House of Rings. It was a wholesale deal, and there was absolutely nothing of real value to the ring. But it looked pretty on my computer screen. And then I got it in the mail. And I thought it looked cheap and fake. So I stashed it away in my desk at work. Where it sat for way too long. I was embarrassed that I had even ordered it, and so I convinced myself I would hold off and we would get married when I could afford a better ring, and in my mind, a more stable life.
It was some time after that, Maureen and I had one of those late night “conversations” about us. It was a nice night, and we didn’t have the kids, so we decided to sit on the deck and enjoy a couple of adult beverages. When the weather is nice, and sometime even when it isn’t, we can sit out there for hours just talking. Usually about nothing in particular, but that night we found ourselves going down that path were at some point, neither of us were going to be happy, and I was probably not going to sleep. And I didn’t.
The next day at work, I pulled the ring out of my desk. It still looked cheap, but I also knew I couldn’t afford anything more. After a few days of fumbling around with it, I finally decided I needed another opinion. A woman’s opinion. So I showed the ring to a female friend at work. And she told me it was beautiful. But it was a fake. And she told me it didn’t matter. So I showed it to another friend, and she said the same thing. It wasn’t the price of the ring, it was the intention that was important. So I did what any true blue American male would do in this situation. I put it back in my desk drawer and decided to think about it some more.
It was a Friday night, and Maureen was working, so I got in the car and headed home. As I was driving down the Stevenson heading back towards home, I was flipping through the radio stations and stopped on a song I knew, not really paying much attention and still thinking. A new song started up, and at first I wasn’t really listening. I had never heard the song before, but somehow, and I know how crazy this is going to sound, I felt like there was a reason why I stopped on this station. It was not one of my preset stations, and the format was not what I would normally listen to. But here I was listening to this song I had never heard before and realizing it was speaking directly to me.
The song was about brand new relationships, and that first kiss. What the singer referred to as the last first kiss, because you have realized that this person could be that one. He sang about how she looked in the moonlight and the butterflies in the stomach as they first kissed, and most importantly, how it was a chance worth taking. And as I listened it suddenly just hit me. It didn’t matter that the ring was a fake. I had to give it to her because she was a chance worth taking. And I had to do it that night.
So I turned the car around, and headed back to the office to pick up the ring. And I sent Maureen a message about meeting up after she finished work. I knew where I wanted to go, back to the place where we had our first kiss, and I wanted to ask the big question right on that spot. I tried get her to come up with the location on her own, dropping not too subtle hints until I finally just blurted it out. I could tell she was somewhat suspicious, so I tried to play it cool. We met up, and we ate, and we had a few of those adult beverages. When I thought the night was over, I headed to the bathroom and took out the ring. I didn’t want to be fumbling with it at the big moment, so I slipped it over my pinky and folded it into my hand. I had already paid the bill, so I though I would just grab Maureen and head out the door to the big moment, and much to my surprise, she had ordered us a couple more beers.
She said she was such a nice night, and that she didn’t want it to end too soon, so what was I to do? We had a few more beers, the whole time with me hiding my right hand under the table. I think she sensed that I wanted to get going, so we finally abandoned our half full bottles and headed out into the night. Whenever we go to this restaurant, we always park in the same place, so I knew we would be stopping at our spot for a quick kiss on the way back to the car. After the kiss I just lifted my hand in front of her face, and it had the effect I wanted. It was like it appeared out of thin air, and I asked her if she would marry me. And she said no.
So maybe that song was a bunch of baloney. Maybe she didn’t think this was a chance worth taking. As I stood there for a second trying to figure out how to put the crappy ring back in my pocket with some shred of dignity still in tact, she was suddenly taking the ring from me and giving me a big kiss. And the rest of the story as they say is history. The wedding is all set for next month, a dress has been ordered and fitted. My son and I got new suits for the occasion, and both Molly and Stephanie got spiffy new dresses. It was a chance worth taking. The song was indeed right.
Oh, and about that song. I had no idea what it was called or who sang it, and I couldn’t even figure out how to look it up. But then fate stepped in once again, and I found the song completely by accident. But I still can’t tell you about it just yet. See, much of my life with Maureen has revolved around music, and I always knew I would be singing something to her on our wedding day, but I didn’t know what until I found the song again. There are so many songs that I could have chosen, but they all already have specific meaning and memories. I want this one to be a new memory, and since I am about 99% sure Maureen has never heard this song before, I am hoping it will have the same magic as that fake little ring did on that night one year ago today.
God I hope I don’t screw this one up!