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
day" and want to be treated like a princess, but for me that's just
day with an excuse to have a fun time. I think you outgrow
and so if you're going to celebrate them, it's just going to be a
to childhood, something to have fun with maybe.
My ex's birthday was December
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
At that point, I was in the process of wrapping up grad school and we
a spring and a summer semester away from graduating, moving away, and
getting real jobs. In other words, she was going to get an
Of course, the week of her
birthday I was
in the home stretch of the busiest semester ever. I was in a
program, so I was teaching full-time during the day, taking classes
nights, and somewhere in here I was supposed to get research done to
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
she collected), chewy Sweet Tarts (do they even make those anymore?),
a bunch of other things. The cashier looked at me like I was
I told her I heard they had just cured diabetes. She didn't get
Or maybe she figured I was serious. Whatever. I was too
My not-yet-fiance came over to
room the night of her birthday, and I "surprised" her with the
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
engaged," she said and started crying.
Many of my stories about my ex
moments like these where the reader says, "What were you doing with
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
Sure, I said, we were going to
but not until xmas. Certainly not now. Not in my dorm
Not in the middle of finals. Not when I had been out of my head
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
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
couple days to focus on school.
At the end of those two days, I
exhausted. In addition to my finals and thesis proposal, I also
to submit a ridiculous amount of paperwork (requiring, of course,
signatures that were scattered around campus) confirming the teaching
I had accumulated in order to receive credit for those. I had
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
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
proposal. I mean, our best friends had gotten engaged less than a
year earlier. They went to the edge of a cliff overlooking the
on the boundary of his family's property, then surprised her with the
Contrast this with me standing in a mall ready to collapse into a bed
first chance I could.
My now-fiance (I guess) was
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