Tuesday, October 12, 2010

In which Calvin proposes by burying a ring in a tin of Snickers

We had been dating for three years when Calvin proposed. We had been talking about marriage for a while, but it was time to be formal. We were so smug: all those people who were still uncoupled! They would die alone! But not us. We had even named our children.

Oh, karma can be nasty. After I broke off our engagement, I was uncoupled for many many years. Calvin married a few years later, but it took me much longer, which gave me ample opportunity to contemplate and regret my smugness.

I had already quit grad school in English, not that I don't think knowing how to read Sir Gawain and the Green Knight in middle English wouldn't have made me even more employable.

Calvin was in his fifth year of college, not because he was slow but because he was majoring in electrical engineering and in physics. Apparently, there is not a lot of overlap between those fields.

It was Christmas 1985. I didn't have any vacation, but this was old-time employment where we got the Monday before Christmas Eve, which was Tuesday, off. We also got Veterans' day, Columbus Day, and Washington's birthday. Plus a turkey at Thanksgiving. And the coffee and donuts cart came around at 10. And everyone left work at 4:30. The good old days. Except I don't miss the smoking in the office. At all.

Calvin was in Austin with his family. We drove up to Waco for the state 3A football championship. Our friend Randy was from Daingerfield and his high school team was playing. Daingerfield is a small mill town in northeast Texas. Randy's parents didn't go past 8th grade, I don't think, and his dad worked in the steel mill. Randy, however, got his PhD in chemistry at Harvard, which makes you wonder what his parents could have done with the same opportunity.

If you watch Friday Night Lights, you know a little bit about how important high school football is in Texas, especially in small towns. Dillon might be a 3A school. Who knows? My high school, Converse Judson, was a 5A school, but my senior year was a big fat waste of time. I only went there my that year and it was not, as my friend Leigh coaches me to say, my favorite. I didn't care at all about their stupid football team.

But I did care about Randy's school's team and a statewide championship is a big deal no matter what, which was why we were driving 100 miles to sit in the cold and watch a football game.

But this story is not about football (although Daingerfield won, which is cool). It is about a marriage proposal.

On the drive back from Waco to Austin, Calvin casually asked me to hand him the tin of Snickers in the back seat.

Calvin did not usually carry large supplies of candy bars with him, so I was suspicious.

He had in the past threatened to give me an engagement candy bar rather than a ring because he teased that the chocolate would last longer. Which, in the end, was prophetically correct.

He asked me to give him a candy bar, but I refused. "Get it yourself," I said. I was really suspicious.

He kept insisting - he wanted me to dig around in the tin.

This was not how I wanted to be proposed to. I was not very gracious.

But I did as he asked. And found a box. That contained a ring.

"Stop the car!" I demanded.


"Stop the car!"

He stopped. "What's going on?"

"Get out."

He didn't want to, but I insisted. I got out with him.

"Now get down on one knee and propose properly!" I said.

Are you thinking this is when he should have put the ring in his pocket and said, "Forget it?" Because you would be right. Really. Who gets bitchy about how she is proposed to? I could have been a lot nicer. But I was young and full of visions of moonlight and roses and romance novels and it didn't seem right.

Instead of telling me to take a hike, he did as I asked, kneeling on the graveled shoulder and asking me to marry him, which was more than I deserved.

I smiled and told him yes, then admired the ring, a diamond solitaire, which I had never thought I wanted, all the way back and then on my drive from San Antonio back to work in Houston, where the VP saw it and groaned that they had been so excited to hire a bright young woman and that they wanted me to be a VP someday, not married, which confused me because I did not see the two as mutually exclusive.

A month later, after reserving the church and buying a dress, I broke up with him.

1 comment:

  1. Now you have to tell us why you broke up with him.


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