Monday, February 26, 2007

The marrying man

The last time I asked someone to marry me, I was 23 years old. Actually, that was the only time, since Tim is the one who proposed to me.

The first time, I was too allergic to the future to think about what I was doing; after considering it for about 15 seconds, I walked into a jewelry store at 1:00pm and walked out 45 minutes later, a small box in one hand and a $2500 invoice in the other.

I was scared, actually frightened, by the debt. When she unceremoniously dumped me and kept the ring, fear turned to anger--but it amazes me how much drama such a small amount of money created. It burned at me for years, as if I had bankrupted my retirement account.

But that was several jobs and promotions ago. Now, $2500 means nothing. Tim and I refurnished our family room recently, and after dropping $2000 on furniture, and $1500 on an LCD HDTV (which rocks the house by the way, more on this later), we splurged on a fancy dinner ($97, inlcuding tip). That night, I slept like a baby. In fact, I slept better than usual, knowing that we had taken steps toward improving our home.

After proposing, Tim did not ask me for a ring. It was almost like she did not care, or that she wanted it to be strictly my idea.

When you are in love and planning to get married, you want everyone to know it. You want to talk about it, turn it over in your mind all day long. Having said that, it's easy to get out of hand. Some guys think this is a contest. "Bob got his girlfriend two carats, so I'm buying three for mine!" I want to buy her something extravagant, because I love her and want her to have the best. She doesn't deserve to be cheaped out on. However, I think anything over $10,000 is ridiculous to spend on a ring. I'm going to keep the price below that level if I can.

Tuesday, 11:30am
New England Diamond Exchange

"This is a gorgeous one," Ira says, pulling a ring from it's black felt bed. "See? It talks to you!" he purrs, turning it this way and that under the sharp fluorescent light.

Tim slides it over her pinky. "Hmm," she says.

It's far too small. Her hands are dainty, almost little-girl like, but the band is narrow and the stone unsubstantial.

"I think we need a bigger one," I say. Ira and Tim look at me. "Are you sure?" Tim says, reaching for the tiny price tag.

I pull the ring away. "She's not allowed to look at price tags. Okay?" I say to Ira. He smiles and nods.

He takes a step to his left and pulls another ring from the display case. She slides it over her finger and we all fall silent.

The band is platinum, and thicker than the others we've seen; the stone looks big and heavy, and its shine is clean and flawless. It doesn't matter how beautiful Tim is; the ring demands your attention, insists that you stare at its perfection.

I watch her as she studies the ring, as if she were a jeweler herself. "Can I see that... magnifying thing you put in your eye?" she asks.

"Sure," Ira says, handing her an eye loupe. He and I smile at each other; she is hooked and we both know it.

"What do you think?" I ask, finally.

She leans to the side, trying to read the price tag. I snatch it in my right hand. "Nice try."


"Do you like it?"

"Oh my God," she breathes, just like she does during intense sex.

"How many carats is this, Ira?"

"Two and a half."

I need to know how much it costs, but it's important that I not look shocked, no matter how high the number. I glance at the price tag with a nonchalant smile.

So much for my $10,000 limit. But the ring is perfect.

"We'll take it."

Monday, February 19, 2007

Taking the "adult" out of adultery

"Why are you calling me?"

"Merry Christmas to you too. Butthead!"

Krista is just like a rebellious teen who gets scolded and laughs it off. Did she not hear the anger in my voice? Did she forget that she agreed not to call me, except in an emergency?

"I'm serious, Krista. Don't call me."

"Issh," she sighs. "Pretty obvious what you're after."

"Don't even. Don't even. I was totally honest with you from the beginning."

"What about Tim? Were you honest with her?"


"I need to talk to you tomorrow, Krista."

"Whatever. I just wanted to say Merry Christmas. Sorry you're being such a loser about it."

Tuesday, December 26, 10:14am
Steve's office

It might feel good to scream at Krista, but I know better. She knows enough to cause me major problems.

This is the nerve-wracking part, the part that comes long after the fun is over. Where the Kristas of the world are involved, I'll tell myself anything: That I'm perfectly safe, that she won't ever turn psycho, that I can disembark from this booty train whenever I want. Sometimes I'm wrong.

It's only now, weeks after we've awkwardly put our clothes back on, that restraint seems like a good idea. I can't believe I let myself associate with someone as immature as Krista. I even go so far as to read my old posts, looking for a line about a ridiculously hot body, or a perfectly sculpted set of boobs. I find nothing.

Krista was fuckable. She was there, and she was easy. Yeah, she's cute, and has a nice body, just like a million others. Unless this is the easiest rejection in the history of human interpersonal relationships, she wasn't worth it.

"Krista, Tim and I got engaged yesterday."

"Oh, cool! Great! Congratulations, Steve." Her voice sinks before the sentence is done, making the whole thing seem like a bad acting job.

"We have to stop seeing each other." Saying it out loud hurts; it makes me realize exactly how much of an asshole I was being.

"Seeing each other naked, you mean."

There's that teenager again.

"Uh, yeah. I guess so."


"I don't know what you want me to say, Steve."

"You don't have to say anything. Look, I like you, Krista. It's just, I really can't do this anymore. I shouldn't have done it in the first place."

"So it's all my fault then?"

"What? No! Neither one of us is without blame, Krista. And I'm actually starting to feel some remorse, believe it or not."

"Well, congratulations on your remorse."

"I... I, okay, thanks."


That was almost too easy. I wonder if Krista really is as aloof as she appears, or if the fun is just beginning.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

With sincere condolences to women everywhere...

In hindsight, this makes perfect sense. Tim is on the pill, which is about 98% effective. We've never even had so much as a scare, in well over a year together.

I am completely flattered. Tim is beautiful, hard-working, driven and talented. She impresses me and turns me on. But, nonetheless, a subtle ache surfaces now and again, a lonely raft in an ocean of joy.

I was getting used to the idea of being a father. My brothers both have kids; many of my friends do too. You don't have to ask a father if he's happy with his children; you just have to watch him wrestle around on the floor with them, or listen to the stories he always seems to have about them on Monday mornings. I know we'll have kids someday, but...

"Are you proposing to me?"

"I know you said you wanted to wait until we were living together for a year, but it's almost a year," she says, so quickly that I can barely make out the words. "And I'm totally okay with a long engagement!"


"We can do this, Steve! We can totally do this! We love each other!"

"Can I finish?" I smile.



"Oh my God!" she shrieks, and we hug tightly.

We call my dad first. "It's about friggin' time!" he says. "If you waited too much longer, I was gonna marry her myself!"

The call to Tim's mother should be interesting.

"Steve and I are getting married," Tim says into the speakerphone.


"Congratu...lations..." her father says in the background, his voice trailing off.

"Steve and I have something to talk about," Diana says.

"Tim asked me, Diana, not the other way around."

"Steve was less than honest with me," Diana says, completely ignoring what I just said.

"Mom. Do you have to ruin everything? I just told you we're getting married, and you're bitching at us?"

"I spoke to Steve a few weeks ago..."

"Mom, this was my idea, not Steve's."

"So Steve had no idea this was coming," she says, skeptically.

"None," I say.


"Mom, I'm marrying him, so just get used to it. I'm not gonna let you ruin my Christmas and my..." she buries her face in her hands.

"Diana, I think you ought to apologize to your daughter," I scold.

"Steve, I'm just trying to--"

"Diana! Apologize!" Marvin booms, so loudly that I scarcely recognize his voice. We all freeze.

Tim picks her head up. "Dad? Did that come out of you?" We burst out laughing, the four of us, and suddenly I know everything will be alright.

"I'm sorry for my display," Diana says. "Congratulations to you both. Steve, welcome to the family. We love you very much."


The more I get used to being engaged, again, the more I realize it was a really good idea. We'll take it slow, we'll get used to being married, then we'll start a family. Thirty-six is a great age to begin this chapter of my life, especially since I've gotten all of the misbehavior out of my system.

My phone vibrates. Krista calling, it says.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

I guess the pills worked after all...

Saturday, December 23, 2006
Steve and Tim's house

If she truly is pregnant, I have to get her to admit it. Why would she want to hold back information like that, anyway?

Maybe she wants to spring it on me for Christmas. Wouldn't that be cool? I give her a flattering ensemble from Bebe, and she congratulates me on being some kid's personal ATM machine for the next 18 years. Actually, 18 years would be a bargain.

I would confront her on it, but I'd hate to ruin the surprise. Besides, what if I am wrong? I never have seen any concrete proof...

Wait a minute.

It's been at least a week since we've put out any garbage. If she's taken a pregnancy test at home since then, I should be able to find it.

I sift through every trash pail in the house, then dump three overflowing Hefty bags on the garage floor and patiently sift through the rotting apple cores and the slimy skeletal remains of the rotisserie chicken we ate five days ago. Five unseasonably hot, chicken-decomposition- friendly days ago.

I breathe through my mouth as best I can, but the smell manages to find me in little wisps, and it's far from springtime in the Rockies. I have all I can do not to gag.

I finish inspecting the garbage; no discarded pregnancy test. Of course, she might have taken the test at a friend's house, or maybe she threw it away somewhere other than home. That's what I would have done.

But there is another way: My neighbor is having a Christmas Eve party tomorrow, and liquor will most definitely be flowing. I wasn't planning on going, but I'll take her, and see if she has anything to drink. She's always good for a shot or a glass of wine at parties like that, so if she sticks to the Diet Coke with lime, I'll be very suspicious.

Christmas Eve, 2006 8:15pm
Kevin's house

I'll wait for Kevin to offer her a drink. Can't look too obvious, you know.

"Steve!" Kevin shouts, lifting me off the floor in a drunken hug.

"Hey Tim!" he says, kissing her twice on the cheek, then staring at her.

She looks at me briefly with a sly smile, as if to say, "Charming friends you have!"


There are only about 10 people here, and the conversations have slowed to a near standstill. Normally, this is the point where I would bail, but I still have something to do.

"So Kevin, do you still brew that beer of yours?"

"I haven't for a long time. It's just Sam Adams tonight, I'm afraid. You want one?"


"Um, sure! Tim, I'm getting a Sam Adams. Do you want anything?"

"No thanks, hon."

Christmas, 2006, 7:45am
Steve and Tim's house

She sits alongside me on the couch, and we drink in the atmosphere one final time before opening the presents.

"Merry Christmas, Tim."

"Merry Christmas, Steve." She kisses me, sits slowly back down, then leans over and kisses me again, slower.

"Honey?" she says.

Here it comes. Finally, after all this waiting!

"I just want you to know how happy I am with you, how much I care about you. You helped me so much with my life, encouraging me when I was looking for my job..."


"We've been through a lot together--my surgery, your dad being sick--my mom mom. I love you so much."

"Me too!"

"I bet some married couples have not been through what we have. So, maybe it's time for us to be a married couple."


"Steve," she says, with a deep breath, "will you marry me?"