Thursday, March 25, 2010

In which I get an engagement trash can

We have decided to get married. When is this - summer 2007? Oh sure Primo has been in loooove with me for a long time and I am crazy about him, but we are both a little skittish about this marriage thing, he because he did not have a good experience with Isabel and me just because I have dodged some bullets already.

I am not unmarried because nobody has ever proposed to me. Oh no. I am unmarried in my early 40s because I treasure my independence. I like living alone. I don't like compromise. Several boyfriends in my past have wanted to marry me. Several, I tell you. But fie, fie with them.

Primo is the first I have wanted to marry.* He does have his weirdness, but he doesn't do things like leave all the cupboard doors open so the cockroaches won't have a place to hide. Or mash the little ends of soap in the corner of the bathtub.

Everyone does odd things and I have my own weirdnesses - I always keep a safety pin around so I can get gunk out of my teeth because one of my paranoias is that I have something stuck in my teeth but it's really not paranoia because I have very stuff-prone teeth so often, there is something there - but maybe true love is when you find someone whose weirdness you can live with. The boyfriend with the cupboard/soap thing was wonderful in many ways, but I just couldn't take all that gray slimy soap in the corner.

But Primo - well, he's different. My life is better with him than without him. I miss him too much when he's gone. So OK - I'll marry him.

We start talking about rings. Primo sort of wants to buy me a ring.

I don't wear rings. I wish I'd known that before I spent $200 on my college class ring, which has not seen my hands since 1987. I could have paid my rent with that money.

I don't like them. My hands aren't that nice. I have icky nails, unlike my mom and my sister, both of whom seem to be able to extrude ceramic from their fingers. Rings get in the way. I do too many things involving my hands to want a ring. You can't wear a ring when you garden. When you work with weights. When you do housework.

I don't want it. I especially don't want Primo to spend thousands of dollars on a ring. "We could go to Paris for that money," I tell him. "Or put it toward our mortgage." I'd rather have a grand trip to Paris to look back on than a ring any day.

He's frustrated. He wants to do something.

"Get me a decent trash can," I tell him.

I hate the trash can in his kitchen. It's only about 14" high and you have to push the lid with your hand to open it. I hate bending over to open it or lifting my leg 16" to mash the opener with my foot. I hate bending over to peel onions into it. I hate the little bags it holds. I hate it.

"I want the fancy trash can like Leigh** has," I say.

Leigh has the nice, tall, chrome, foot-operated trash can. It doesn't break your back to peel onions. You just step with your foot to open it.

But it's not cheap.

OK, it's about $60. But it's a trash can.

I try to put that into beer units for Primo so he can relate. He and I have different ideas about how much to spend on everyday items. I think it's worth it to spend a little more to get higher quality in something you will use every day. He is more of the "buy cheap" school (except for car accessories and wine, but even his cars have all been used - he is not a spendthrift). I tell him buy nice or buy twice.

He wants to wait until he can find the trash can on sale. That's fair. I don't see the point of paying more than we have to.

But it doesn't go on sale and doesn't go on sale and doesn't go on sale. We know this because Primo scours the ads in the paper every Sunday. He will even find a lower price on something he already bought and go to the store to get the adjustment. Target does that, you know. Primo is not wasteful with money.

After nine months of watching, though, the darn trash can never goes on sale. By now, I have sold my house and moved into Primo's apartment, so his trash can has become a real issue.

One evening, he comes home with a big box. It contains the trash can. "I got it for you," he says. "And it wasn't even on sale."

I know he loves me.

* Except for the jerk in grad school, but I just thought I wanted to marry him. Then I learned he was a total creep who thought the rules didn't apply to him. I will have to tell you that story. Let's just say for now that he might actually be a psychopath. Not a murderer, but someone without a conscience.

** Leigh is the friend whose presents got peed on at her bridal shower by the hostess' neurotic, yappy dogs. The hostess was a psychologist. The dogs peed on Leigh's presents. The hostess still did not put the dogs out. Psychologist heal thyself is what I said.


  1. I have an engagement ring, which I have not worn in years. Mostly because I don't like it, but that's not something I'll ever confess to my husband. It's not a traditional solitaire and, in fact, the band has an odd swooping design that makes it impossible for me to wear this ring with my wedding band. Husband hated traditional diamond solitaires and the pressure to buy them, so he went non traditional.

    Several years after we were married, he got me a traditional solitaire so that my wedding band wouldn't look so plain (I was wearing my engagement ring on my right hand all those years.) Actually, my parents found the ring at an antique shop, bought it, and sold it to him for a good deal. They couldn't bear the fact that I didn't have a traditional solitaire. He and I could not have cared less, but he bought it anyway.

    Unfortunately, it's a cut of diamond that I'm not wild about (marquis). I wore it for a few years until we had our first child and I accidentally gouged her with the solitaire a couple of times. I stopped wearing it then.

    Since then, I've been wearing my wedding band and a simple channel diamond band (small diamonds -- nothing fancy) and love the combination. I look married, but my rings don't get in the way when I garden, clean, or cook.

    At some point in the future, I'll probably sell the solitaire, along with a few other fancy over-the-top rings that my parents have given me over the years. I might also have my engagement ring re-set so that it cant be worn with my wedding band. But, frankly, it's not a priority right now.

  2. Maureen - can you just feel the Hallmarkness of the whole thing?

    Jen, more proof that diamonds are not a girl's best friend. A paid-off mortgage is. Or at least in my mind.

  3. I found this blog by following the link you posted in CH's column. I love this post, and I am sure that I am going to enjoy reading through this blog. What wonderful story-telling, what a find!

    1. Alicia, thank you so much! It makes my day to read such a nice compliment!

  4. Came here via "Ask a manager." This story about getting a trash can for an engagement present (when it wasn't even on sale) made me go "Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwww." That was so sweet of him.

    1. Thanks, Bug! Primo is a sweetie. Usually.

      PS Thanks for coming!

  5. Also came here via AAM.

    My story's very similar. Engagement ring? No. Wanted to spend our money on something measured in room count, not carats. Wedding gift: stepladder. Very romantic, when you know that I am quite short, he was about to deploy overseas, and he was truly worried about my safety in getting to the top cabinets while he was gone.

    1. Susannah, I love your story! Jewelry is really nice, but it's even better to have someone think about what will really make our lives better. Here's to Engagement Household Supplies!

  6. I know this is six years(!!) after the story, but also came here via AAM and this one totally resonates. I have no engagement ring - my Kitten and I both hate diamonds - but we spent good money getting really gorgeous custom bands done by a local craftsman. Eight years later, I still have no need of diamonds, thankyewverramuch, but the bands make us both happy still.

    Money well spent is a new electric wok so he can cook his amazing fried rice, or house finally purchased so we don't have to move again, or a paid-off credit card so we have an emergency resource. Diamonds are for drill bits. *nods emphatically*

    1. Diamonds cut glass and I usually don't need to cut glass. But I always need to throw out trash or make rice. I like your attitude, Rebecca.