A Limited Engagement

While I'm usually a romantic guy, you can catch me at a bad time and find I couldn't care less.  I know a lot of people think of their birthday as a "special day" and want to be treated like a princess, but for me that's just another day with an excuse to have a fun time.  I think you outgrow birthdays, and so if you're going to celebrate them, it's just going to be a throwback to childhood, something to have fun with maybe.

My ex's birthday was December 13th, which didn't leave a lot of time before xmas.  By this point we had been dating for nearly four years, and we had talked a lot about getting engaged.  At that point, I was in the process of wrapping up grad school and we were a spring and a summer semester away from graduating, moving away, and finally getting real jobs.  In other words, she was going to get an engagement ring.

Of course, the week of her birthday I was in the home stretch of the busiest semester ever.  I was in a fast-paced program, so I was teaching full-time during the day, taking classes most nights, and somewhere in here I was supposed to get research done to write up my thesis proposal that was due that week, finals week.  I also had a couple finals to study for, of course.  While I didn't have a lot of time, I managed to sneak away to pick up a few presents for my girl's birthday.  I went out and bought an assortment of candy she liked, at least one of everything she enjoyed: Lemonheads (a reference to an early incident in our relationship), several Pez dispensers (which she collected), chewy Sweet Tarts (do they even make those anymore?), and a bunch of other things.  The cashier looked at me like I was nuts.  I told her I heard they had just cured diabetes.  She didn't get it.  Or maybe she figured I was serious.  Whatever.  I was too tired to care.

My not-yet-fiance came over to my dorm room the night of her birthday, and I "surprised" her with the assortment of presents.  I don't remember if I had some other things mixed in there as well (I'm thinking I bought her a cd), but when she unwrapped everything, she looked confusedly.  "I thought we were going to get engaged," she said and started crying.

Many of my stories about my ex feature moments like these where the reader says, "What were you doing with her?"  I have a few thousand such stories with exactly these sorts of moments, and I'll tell you I don't know.  Can I please just finish the story?  Thanks.

Sure, I said, we were going to get engaged, but not until xmas.  Certainly not now.  Not in my dorm room.  Not in the middle of finals.  Not when I had been out of my head without any sleep for the past couple weeks.  I had another couple finals still to take at that point, so give me a break already!

Unfortunately, guys aren't wired up to be able to deal effectively with crying females or we wouldn't have so much pent-up hostility we channel into other areas.  As a result, I ended up at the mall about an hour before it closed, looking at jewelry with her.  She found something relatively quickly (thankfully; but like I said, we only had an hour left that night), and we paid for it, though the ring she wanted needed to be re-sized.  That gave me another couple days to focus on school.

At the end of those two days, I was completely exhausted.  In addition to my finals and thesis proposal, I also had to submit a ridiculous amount of paperwork (requiring, of course, numerous signatures that were scattered around campus) confirming the teaching hours I had accumulated in order to receive credit for those.  I had little energy left and had been operating on for the entire week the amount of sleep most folks get in a weekend.  But the ring was finally ready.

We went to the mall and picked up the ring.  She was exuberant.  I was happy for her, but I was happier to have her off my case.  Had I been in the frame of mind to reflect on my attitude, I would have returned the ring, but at that moment, I pretty much didn't want to do anything but sleep, and this was my ticket to keeping her off my back so I could get some.

I let her wear the ring she wanted so badly rather than delaying it until I was able to concoct an appropriately romantic proposal.  I mean, our best friends had gotten engaged less than a year earlier.  They went to the edge of a cliff overlooking the countryside on the boundary of his family's property, then surprised her with the ring.  Contrast this with me standing in a mall ready to collapse into a bed the first chance I could.

My now-fiance (I guess) was thinking something similar.  "Are you going to actually propose to me," she asked.

I looked at her kind of seriously and said, "You want to get married, right?"


"Okay, then we're engaged."

It was kind of downhill from there.

Copyright 2007 Alexplorer.
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