July 17, 2003
When you last left me, I had just proposed to my long-suffering girlfriend, Alison, while on the beach with a pimple. She said "yes," and we agreed to start fighting about the wedding plans as soon as possible.
The day before I popped the question, my life was a relatively quiet place. Sure, I had business on my mind -- a friend's separation was providing an unpleasant distraction, and the Lakers' uneven play in the first round of the playoffs was cause for concern. Nevertheless, my brow was unfurrowed, my demeanor tranquil. I was not exactly the Dalai Lama, but I want to go on record that I did not have a single gray hair on my head.
That was then, this is now. I should look like Steve Martin by the wedding.
Going together in a relationship is like shopping for a house -- checking out the bones, getting dreamy about all the possibilities.
Getting engaged is like going into escrow. Drop to a knee, ask a question and the next day you're trying to figure out exactly what it's going to take to make this "fixer-upper" livable.
Like escrow, I can still get out of it on a technicality, like finding mold during the inspection period. I just discovered that Alison has a cracked tooth. She might as well have a leaky roof. I want the seller to either fix it before I move in or lower the asking price. And, on top of that, I just found out that she might not be as naturally blonde as I'd been led to believe. I cry foul! She's been rolling back the odometer the whole time we've been dating. I would send her back to the factory like a car on recall, except I really love her.
On the other hand, she can do the same with me. Hard to believe, gentle reader, but I, too, have my faults. I've been able to keep most of them hidden from her for the past year or so, and that's how we managed to get a "yes" on the whole "will you marry me?" thing. There is a lot to be said for deception, so perhaps I should be more forgiving.
Everybody around us is so happy. They're positively thrilled for us. I find happy people so exhausting, don't you? We went out for dinner with one couple to celebrate, and my face hurt from smiling at my good fortune. I don't know how much of this happiness I can take.
People ask me, "Are you getting excited? Are you nervous?"
No. Why should I be? Just because I'm forsaking all others for a bottle blonde with a bad set of chompers? It could be worse. She's got a job. And she has a really good DVD collection, which I get for free! It turns out to be a pretty good deal for me, actually.
We got engaged on a Saturday. The bride's side, her mother and sister, are very well organized. They had their outfits for the wedding selected by the following Tuesday. My sister, who is also my best man, picked out an outfit, about which my mother said, "Don't you have anything nicer?" So now my sister is back in therapy with nothing to wear and the clock ticking ever louder to the "big day."
One nice thing about being a guy is that wedding plans just seem to take care of themselves. Initially, Alison asked me if I cared about things like the flowers, invitations and things like that. Under normal circumstances, the answer would be "yes." I certainly would have an opinion. But these aren't normal circumstance. I'm interested in problem-solving, and by recusing myself from the decision-making process, problems mysteriously solve themselves.
So now, one of the only things left for me to do, besides nodding my head in assent, is to show up in a suit. But, fear not, I am not left on my own for this.
When we were at Alison's condo, packing up the rest of her things to move into my -- I mean our -- house, she cried out, "Oh my God." Alison is not a Valley Girl, so I knew it could be important.
"What's the matter?"
"I have a tie for you," she said. I don't wear ties all that often, so it seemed a little strange. She said that when she graduated from high school, Uncle Dick -- aka Dick Carroll, the founder of Carroll & Company in Beverly Hills; a wonderful, warm, funny man and a great friend of my family, as well, who passed away this spring -- gave her a maroon and navy "rep" tie, the University of Pennsylvania colors (where I also went to college), wrapped in the school's distinctive red-and-black box.
And so she handed me a long, narrow box, with a nearly 20-year-old elastic gold ribbon still on it, and told me what Uncle Dick told her: "Some day you will meet the man of your dreams, and you will give him this tie."
Like I said, these things just seem to take care of themselves.
J.D. Smith is in escrow @ www.carteduvin.com.