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Monday, September 17, 2012

Just How Engaging Is Engagement?

Scurrying around, throwing my lunch together, I let the kitchen phone ring a few more times than usual. I needed to wolf down my lunch, get my uniform ironed, dress, and jump in the car to make the rounds to collect the others in the car pool. It was my turn to drive. At least, I had polished my shoes before going to bed last night so they were ready. The ringing phone stopped but only briefly. I ran up the steps from the basement laundry, wrinkled cotton uniform across my arm, and grabbed up the receiver on my way through the kitchen door.

“Well, hello there. You sound out of breath. What’re you doing?”

“Oh, hi! Yes, I’m running a bit late. I forgot it was my turn to drive.”

“Just stay right there; I’m on my way over.” My boyfriend had worked until closing at the hamburger joint the night before, but I was used to him phoning before I left for work. Still, he didn’t usually actually come over. Must be something special he wants to talk with me about today. I hoped it wasn’t anything sad or bad… like his father was seriously ill or something. I stepped up my pace and had the uniform nearly finished when Curt arrived at the door.

After a quick hug and a kiss, he held out a little box to me. “What’s this?” I turned it over and then shrieked out a delighted exclamation. “Curt, you got it! It’s the very one we looked at so many times in the Mall!” I was so excited, I trembled and was about to put it on my own finger.

“Hey, wait a minute here! Shouldn’t I be the one to slip that on your finger?” Now, it was hard to see which of us was trembling more. I stared down at the beautiful engagement ring, a strip of yellow gold in the center of a white gold ring; the solitaire diamond now decorating the top of the fourth finger of my left hand. It was simply gorgeous.

“Oh, Curt, I love it! We need to decide on a wedding date, don’t we?” All thought of work, making a sack lunch to take with me for my supper, and driving around to collect others vaporized, replaced with dates dancing through my consciousness.

“Shouldn’t I, at least, ask you? I realize it is probably a moot point at this stage but doesn’t the guy usually do some kind of a proposal before couples talk about dates?”

We had talked about getting married so often. Our friends were already in the process of their own wedding planning; it just didn’t seem like there was any question but, okay, for formality sake, let’s go with the down on one knee scene.

“Yes, of course, Honey. Go ahead and ask me; I’m listening.” I might have been listening but, my eyes were still on the diamond ring.

Curt opted not to go quite as far as the floor and one knee, instead turning to me, he took my hand in his. My gaze left the ring and tilted up to find his face. Looking into my eyes, now glistening, he said nearly in a whisper, “So, will you marry me?”

“Yes, yes!” I threw my arms around his neck and we enjoyed a long kiss with our embrace. It was August 13th.

I went to get each of us a strip of paper and a pencil from the junk drawer in the kitchen. We decided to pray that the Lord would give us a date for the wedding, then we asked God and waited. Soon, each of us began writing and I started giggling like the newly-engaged twenty-year-old I was. Once we had written a date on our own paper, we exchanged them. December 27 was written on both slips of paper. Since we had never discussed what month, let alone what day, we might think about getting married, we believed this was the right date for the wedding… December 27 was proclaimed the wedding day. The one thing we both liked about the date was that it was close. Neither of us had ever thought about a winter wedding; I, personally, had always pictured a summer wedding, but December it was.

The next Saturday, we enjoyed a lovely celebration dinner at a restaurant in the city, which turned out to be memorable not just for the engagement. Dustin Hoffman and other actors were dining there, as well, because the movie Little Big Man was being filmed not far from the city. The restaurant even let me take one of their large red menus home as a souvenir of our special occasion.

Both of us wanted our parents to have a chance to get to know each other so we planned a picnic. It was a lovely August day and the temperature was not uncomfortably warm. My one lasting memory from this event was Curt’s father’s remark when watching me toss a ball to Curt, “Hey, look at that. She doesn’t throw like a girl!” All those years of playing catch with a baseball had paid off after all!

Another memory is double-dating with my parents. We went to the movie A Lion in Winter. It was a little weird to be on a date with my parents but made me feel older, too. I just wanted them to have more time to get to know Curt.

My best friend in high school was in her final year of nursing education and her guy was a Senior in accounting. They would be married after graduation in early summer. Joyce and Rey, my roommate and best friend from university’s second year, already had their wedding date, September 13. I made plans to return to Colorado for a few days in September. In America, the bride and groom invite special friends and, often, siblings to be a part of their wedding party. The girls stand at the front of the church with the bride and the men in line with the groom. There can be as few as just one for each of the couple (Maid of Honor and Best Man), but usually there are additional folks dressed in matching formal dresses for the ladies and tuxedos for the men. I would be in Joyce’s line of attendants, and I looked forward to the few days with her before the ceremony. No doubt, she would have some pointers for me as I planned my own wedding!

The passing of time brought other experiences not nearly as joyous, one of which remains a painful memory even today. Perhaps, I should have paid more attention.

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