|December 17, 2000
Give Me a Ring
"You're probably wondering why I've asked you here this evening," David said with exaggerated formality.
We were sitting at a candlelit table at one of the East Bay's most elegant restaurants. The occasion was my forty-third birthday. Our dinner orders had just been placed, and now we were sitting there nibbling on warm focaccia bread, making polite comfortable chit-chat about weather and menu choices and the view. Or we were making polite comfortable chit-chat about weather and menu choices and the view, until this particular moment.
"Unaccustomed as I am to public speaking," he continued, "I just want to say that I hope you're having the best birthday of your life."
"I am," I replied quietly.
And it was true. In spite of all my bellyaching about how much I "hate" birthdays, this one, so far, hadn't been too awful. They'd surprised me with a cake at the Totem Pole Company. Jaymi and Joel sent me flowers. I'd had a lovely surprise phone call from my sister, and e-mail from my mom, my readers, my online friends. Franz left the office three hours early, forcryingoutloud. As birthdays go, this one had been not-completely-terrible.
Something told me it was about to get a whole lot better, though.
David reached into his coat pocket and withdrew a small white box. If all my basic motor functions hadn't been on auto-pilot at that moment, I probably would have forgotten how to breathe.
"Terri," he said, "Would you make me the happiest man alive and be my wife?" And he flipped open the lid and placed it on the restaurant table in front of me.
Inside the box: my engagement ring.
I clapped a hand across my open mouth and blinked at him from across the table -- shocked, ecstatic, terrified, wildly happy, vaguely nauseous -- several bazillion different, interesting emotions simultaneously -- and then I tenderly replied:
"Let me think about it for a minute."
Let me think about it for a minute.
Jesus H. Christ on a gratuitous mid-season cliffhanger.
After everything I've been through, the past couple of days ... after weeks and months and YEARS of hoping for/waiting for/praying for/hinting for this incredibly important once-in-a-lifetime moment ... I respond to my marriage proposal with "Let me think about it for a minute"?? I swear to god, I wasn't trying to be cute or funny or mysterious. It just popped out of my mouth without warning. (And yeah, I know: the Secra Puppet said the exact same thing here on this website, just a couple of months ago. That's merely a coincidence.) But David didn't seem to mind. He sat there and looked at me with those big beautiful translucent-blue eyes of his, patiently waiting for me to process the question ... waiting for me to formulate a response ... waiting for me to swallow that big unchewed lump of focaccia bread in the middle of my throat.
"Ask me again," I said finally, choking a little.
"Will you marry me?" he repeated, without hesitation. And I opened my mouth to say Yes, David -- my soulmate, my partner, the one true love of my heart -- I will marry you ...
... but I didn't have a chance to get the words out, because at that precise moment our little waitress appeared from out of nowhere and began to busily set our bleu-cheese-and-almond salads down on the table. Something about the vibe at our table, though, must have set off her special *Waitress Warning Radar.* She took one look at the open ring box sitting in front of me -- and at the intense expressions on our faces -- and she gasped.
"Oh my god!" she said. "I'm so sorry! I can come back!"
But we assured her that no, it was OK, leave the salads, she wasn't interrupting anything important. Just your typical marriage proposal, in progress. She slammed our salad plates onto the table and scampered off like a gun-shy rabbit at a shooting range.
(Or like a waitress afraid of blowing the rest of her tip.)
"Ask me again," I said, and he proposed for a third time -- quickly, before the waitress came back with the fudking PEPPER GRINDER -- and this time I looked him squarely in the eyes, and with all of the love and joy and tenderness in my heart I said "Yes."
Yes, I will marry you.
(What took you so long?)
Meanwhile, beneath the table I was frantically trying to stuff the ring onto my left ring finger. To my dismay, I could barely squeeze it past the first stubby knuckle. (Size nine. SIZE NINE. I must have written 'size nine' on my website a bazillion times in the last year, right? Now we know for sure he isn't reading *FootNotes.*) It was like trying to cram a Lifesaver onto an uncooked Ballpark Frank. I didn't want David to feel hurt or disappointed or stoopid for buying the wrong size ... I didn't want to do anything to spoil the romantic mood ... but then again, neither did I want to conclude my birthday/engagement night in the local emergency room having my ring (or my finger) surgically removed.
In despair I held up my hand, with the ring parked at my knuckle. "It's too small," I said sadly.
"No no no," David said. "We have to get it resized."
"All of the rings in the jewelry store are a size 7," he explained. "You buy the size 7 as a sort of 'placeholder.' Then if you need something smaller or larger, you take it back to the store and the jeweler resizes it for you."
Oh. OK. Duh.
Having never received an engagement ring before, I will admit the protocol is all brand-new to me. (Think about it. In the movies, do you ever see the hero tenderly slip the ring onto his intended's finger ... but only as far as her first knuckle?) But I said OK, that would be fine, and I slipped the ring onto my pinky finger instead. It was the loveliest thing I had ever seen. I spent the rest of dinner looking at it ... touching it ... admiring it .. smelling it ... turning my finger this way and that, watching it sparkle in the candlelight ... wondering if it would be gauche to scratch our initials into my waterglass with the diamond.
"We're engaged!" I said to David in wonder, over and over again.
After dinner, we walked out to the Berkeley Pier and shared our first real *engaged couple kiss* in the moonlight, with the holiday lights of San Francisco as our backdrop.
I doubt that I have ever felt a moment of such perfect, pristine joy.
"We could stop at the jewelry store right now," David said, as we walked back to the car. "They're probably still open." I was dying to get home and start spreading the news ... plus I still had a pile of presents to open, from Jaymi and from my mom ... but I felt that the sooner we got this resizing stuff over with, the better. Yes, it meant we'd have to stand around in a jewelry store for fifteen minutes while the jeweler tinkered with the ring. But so what? In the long run, it would be worth it. So we made a mad dash from Berkeley to the far side of Alameda, and got to the mall in record time. The jewelry store was still open.
We proudly handed my ring to the sales clerk, saying "We'd like to have this resized, please." She measured my ring finger (I actually wear a size 8-1/2, not a size 9!!) ... she checked all of David's receipts and paperwork ... and she said "No problem." And then she put the ring into a little plastic bag and said, "It'll be ready next week."
It would take at least three working days to have the ring sent out to be resized, she explained. This wasn't something they did in-house. And since this was a Friday night, dropping it off now meant that it would be at least Tuesday before the ring was ready.
I felt positively bereft. I'd been in possession of my engagement ring for less than an hour ... and now I was being forced to give it up already. It was like being mugged. "I know, you're disappointed," David said gently, and he took my hand as we walked out of the jewelry store. "But this way you'll have it with you when you go to TicTac for Christmas next week." I nodded bravely, shoving my naked ring-hand into my coat pocket ... and then I promptly burst into tears.
Thirty seconds later we were standing in the jewelry store again.
"I'm sorry," David said to the startled sales clerk. "She just got her ring tonight, and she doesn't want to part with it just yet. Can we bring it back in the morning?"
The ring will be ready on Wednesday.