In my last Singles column, "Change of Heart," I left off with one important question for my girlfriend, Carrie: "Will you marry me?"
Did she say yes?
Well, let me back up a bit.
A few days before the column came out, I drove over to Carrie's parents to ask for their blessing. Carol and Roy were watching "24" when I got there, so I waited until the commercial break -- odd priorities, but I suppose it's more riveting watching Kiefer Sutherland trying to stop the explosion of a nuclear warhead than watching me trying to stop the nervous trembling in my right leg.
Roy stood. Carol took a seat. I dove right in.
"You guys know I love Carrie very much, and I'm going to ask her to marry me. I'd like to get your blessing."
They both seemed to gasp slightly, but then Carol gave me a hug and began repeating the phrase, "Oh my God!" Roy stiffened his body and seemed to freeze slightly. He didn't give me a hug. Luckily, I did see some blinking. Carol teared up a little, and I answered all her rapid-fire questions about the ring, and how I was going to propose.
And then suddenly, she admonished me for coming in the middle of her favorite TV show: "You better save it on your TIVO for me."
Roy relaxed a little, "It's too bad you couldn't come on a Friday, when there's nothing on TV."
I laughed, although I'm not sure he was joking. Carol hugged me again, and they quickly ran back to catch the last 10 minutes of their show.
The next day, Roy called me to meet him for lunch. I got a little nervous as I drove over to meet him. I get along well with Roy, but wondered what kind of warnings would he have for me before I married his daughter. Although he's a peaceful man, I imagined him chasing me through the house, swinging his belt if ever I hurt his baby girl.
It turned out he just wanted me to know that he was happy for us. "I don't show a lot of emotion," he confessed. "Do you believe how Carol was acting?" he asked me, referring to her "overemotional" display of teary eyes and a hug. I nodded knowingly. I mean, this is my future father-in law. As we left, I thanked him for lunch. Then, just before getting into my car, I grabbed the guy and gave him a big, fat hug.
The morning that the column came out, I drove over to The Jewish Journal office to get a fresh copy of the newspaper. Jumping back into my car, with a new parking ticket flapping on my windshield (so maybe I don't always read the signs), I drove over to the Farmers Market to pick up some food.
I really wanted to take Carrie on a picnic, but it was still drizzling outside. I stayed optimistic and went to Loteria, our favorite Mexican place to get two of their finest burritos (considering the cost of the ring, I contemplated buying one burrito and splitting it in half).
I picked up Carrie from work and, amazingly, as she walked out the door, the rain suddenly stopped. I quietly thanked God. We drove to a nearby park and spread out the picnic.
"Oh, before you eat, guess what?" I said nonchalantly as we sat down. "I wrote another column in The Jewish Journal," and gave it to her. Of course, given my last columns, she didn't know what was coming -- especially with this one titled, "Change of Heart."
She took one look at the title and said, "Uh oh." I hovered nervously behind her, waiting to pop out the ring. As she read, she occasionally looked up to laugh or nod her approval. And then I saw her body stiffen as she got to the last line. She froze, just like her dad.
"Oh my God," she gasped, just like her mother.
I grabbed the ring, got on one knee and asked, "Will you marry me?" She cried and answered, "Yes."
We kissed. Two pot smokers nearby clapped. I waved back to them.
Then Carrie went through a rainbow of emotions, the likes of which I have never seen. She laughed, she argued, she protested, she cried, she smiled, she didn't know what to do with herself.
Suddenly she stammered, "Ar ... re you sure about this? We've been arguing lately."
We had been arguing, but mostly because I was sneaking around trying to deal with the engagement preparations. We've never really had secrets before, and the months I was planning all of this were hard for me. It's strange to not be able to discuss one of the biggest decisions of your life with the woman you love. But Carrie had always wanted to be surprised.
Carrie started to cry. "I love you so much. Of course I want to marry you," she said.
"Then why are you crying?"
"I guess I don't really like surprises," she said. Speaking of which -- she hadn't even looked at the ring on her finger.
"Do you like it?" I asked.
"It's beautiful," she said. "Is this real or is this cubic zirconia?"
Was she kidding me? "Cubic zirconia? I sure wish I had the option...."
Seth Menachem is an actor and writer who lives in Los Angeles.
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