I am nearly impossible to surprise, yet for my engagement nearly 22 (gulp) years ago, my husband Bob managed to pull it off.
Tempted by the inexpensive hotel rates that lure Philadelphians to Atlantic City, NJ each winter, Bob and I decided to invest in an unexpected weekend getaway.
"Are you going to propose to me in Atlantic City," I probed during the two hour drive to the shore.
"Lisa I already told you," he growled. "You are impossible to surprise, We are getting engaged on Valentine's Day!"
Surprised by his insistance, I believed him, and put the matter to rest.
We had dated for over two years, and I knew a proposal was imminent. However, Bob said he would not even attempt to catch me off guard since my keen powers of observation would most certainly foil any "surprise Lisa" strategies he might have planned.
In Atlantic City we spent the afternoon on the casino floor, and I watched the slot machine swallow quarter after quarter without spitting out any in return. In a panic, I urged Bob to leave, fearful that we'd lose all of our money. He angrily denied my request, and made it clear how much he resented my attempt to ruin his fun. An arguement ensued as we made our way to our hotel room and changed for dinner.
Getting engaged was the farthest thing from my mind.
The restaurant overlooked the ocean, however, the hostess stuck us in a corner far from the scenic view. Bob started to complain, but, not wanting to cause a scene, I told him to stop, and assured him our table was just fine.
The meal proceeded as planned and I forced the recent arguement to the back of my mind and began to enjoy our romantic setting. Suddenly, the waitress approached our table with a bouquet of a dozen multi-colored balloons.
"What's this for?" I asked, completely perplexed.
"Oh," she said, then paused, searching for the right words. "We sometimes give balloons to really nice couples."
I looked at Bob with suspicion. "Are you planning something?" I accused.
"LISA YOU ARE IMPOSSIBLE TO SURPRISE! I TOLD YOU WE ARE GETTING ENGAGED ON VALENTINE'S DAY!"
He seemed beyond angry and, not wanting to fuel another fight, I again put any thoughts of a proposal out of my mind.
Until we finished our meal.
The dishes were cleared, our tummies were full, and the only thing on my mind was the desire to order dessert. Suddenly Bob stood up, muttered the word "ok", put his hand in his pocket, bent down on one knee, opened a small box and said...........
"Lisa, I love you and I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Will you marry me?"
Despite the waitress nearly ruining Bob's monumental efforts to throw me off track (efforts that included staging an arguement), he had indeed, managed to pull off the world's biggest surprise!
Amid my tears and giggles, I said yes, and he placed the most beautiful diamond ring on my finger.
In the years to follow as our life unfolded, that symbol of our love rarely left my finger. (With the exception of pregnancy swelling that rendered the ring temporarily too small.)
Seven years after we said "I do", Bob presented me with an anniversary band that served as an exquisite complement to the engagement ring that started it all. Now I had two symbolic keepsakes that I rarely removed.
That is........until last week.
Several months ago, I had actually considered getting my rings made smaller since they slid up and down my fingers with ease, ominously threatening to fall off and dissappear forever.
Then came the surgery that hurled me into the next phase of life as a woman.
Bye bye menstrual cycle and hello swelling, bloating, and the overwhelming desire to sit inside the kitchen freezer All. The. Time.
Per the hospital's orders, I had removed my rings prior to the operation. Two weeks into my recovery, I attempted to put them back on. No luck.
I waited two more weeks.
With some effort, they slid beyond my knuckles, however, the gold band practically strangled my fingers.
Still too soon.
I waited a few more weeks and finally, the rings slid on with minimal effort, yet at certain times of the day I experienced a tightness that caused physical pain. This sensation happened most often in the morning, when my body had gleefully retained everything it could during my innocent slumber, forcing my fingers to become as wide as a cucumber. As the day wore on, the swelling would subside a bit, resulting in a decrease in the tightness and pain.
Weeks turned to months, and instead of worrying about returning to the days when I feared the rings would fall off, more often than not it hurt too much to even put them on.
I had two choices.
1. Stuff the rings in a drawer and never wear them again.
2. Take the rings to be resized and in the process, admit that change of life has taken its toll on my body, and I'll probably never be a smaller ring size again. (or clothing size either, for that matter.)
I entered the jewelry story with trepidation and waited my turn while a twenty something salesman helped a young couple pick out an engagement ring and a forty something saleslady spoke to a customer on the phone.
Please let the lady wait on me.
Please let the lady wait on me.
Please let the lady wait on me.
T'was not to be.
The young couple walked out of the store as Mr. Twenty Something greeted me with a smile and a professional, "How can I help you?"
He measured my rings, then measured my fingers, which had increased from a size 5.5 to a size 3,423. Somehow, I felt the need to justify my humongous fingers, to tell this man that they didn't blow up because I got heavier, but because I had an operation that threw me into the throes of menopause.
Instead, I attempted a smile and said, "Oh well, I guess my fingers grew over the past 20 years."
"That sometimes happens," he said without much emotion.
The saleslady would have understood. It comes with the bond of being female. She simply would have understood.
I walked out of the jewelry store with my naked fingers, feeling quite vulnerable.....and quite old.
Later that day during our weekly journey to the supermarket, Bob instructed me to hold out my finger. He then proceeded to take a plastic bag intended to store fresh produce, tied it around my finger, and proclaimed , "There! Now you'll have a ring to wear until your wedding band is resized, and men won't think you're single and try to steal you away, and everyone will still know you're mine!"
It certainly lacked the romance of that memorable evening in Atlantic City so long ago, but this "mock" engagement came with just as much love.
My change of life did not change his feelings, and that's all I need to know!
|My husband Bob and me on our wedding day, April 23, 1994|
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