Monday, May 14, 2018

Dear Sweetpea,

By now, you’ve had your ring for more than 24 hours and we’ve both had the chance to tell our story to our friends and family. Yesterday, you made me the happiest man in the mid-Atlantic by accepting my formal proposal to get married. (OK, it wasn’t all that “formal. There were no tuxedos or tiaras involved.)

There has been a lot going on over the last two weeks, including a lot of plotting and scheming, but it really started several months ago. Another guy in my department was about to start shopping for a ring for his girl, so we began a conversation that drew in several others in the area. These friends became my “panel of experts” on how to go about buying an engagement ring.

Initially, when I Googled “Baltimore Wholesale Jewelers,” I found a place downtown near Camden Yards. It wasn’t open on Saturdays and opened and closed within my usual workday, so I knew it would be challenging to get out there. I figured I’d use this week’s Orioles day game as an excuse. I’d take the day off for the game and stop at the store first.

But then a couple weeks back, it occurred to me that their limited hours would be a continuing problem, what with needing to come back for fittings, wedding bands, and whatnot. So I Googled again and focused on our neighborhood. I found one place with the same problem. But then on the map, I saw a couple other places nearby and they were open Saturdays. After consulting the Yelp reviews, I picked a place to start.

Remember that Saturday, two weeks ago, when you took the dog to your sister’s house for a visit, and I ran errands and got a haircut? That was the day I selected your ring.

The jeweler asked me what I was looking for and I gave him your criteria… silver-looking band, round or square diamond cut. He asked for my price range and then went back to pull out some samples.

First, he showed me a simple ring setting in white gold. I thought it was gorgeous… simple and elegant. That was the one; I didn’t even look at any others. Then he laid out 4 envelopes with diamonds in them, and we went through each, lowest to highest.

The first was .94 karats, very good cut and clarity, and ran about $6k. Right there, I knew I’d find something nice because that one was gorgeous. Next, he showed me one that was .95 carats and a little higher quality. To me, it looked just like the first one.

The third stone was 1.01 carats and a little lower in quality. And that one was gorgeous too.

The last one he showed me was 1.05 carats, 3rd highest category in color, 2nd highest in clarity, and outside of the price range I’d given him. But that was the one. I loved it.

I know the differences were imperceptible to the naked eye but I wanted to make sure you knew, when I showed you the papers, that I found you a top-quality diamond. I wanted you to be proud of it. I know you don’t flash a lot of jewelry so I wanted this ring to be a good one. 
 The quality ratings for your stone.

It certainly doesn’t hurt that you have tiny little hands, which will make the rock look that much bigger.

I asked if he offered financing, and he said he didn’t. That surprised me for a moment. I briefly considered getting a bank loan on my own, but then had a moment of clarity that was definitely on the top of the scale, at least a VVS1. I had the money in my checking account; why would I ever want to get financing and pay the interest charges? Dummy! Just write him a check… Done!

He had me put $2k down on my credit card, to make sure no one else bought it out from under me. I had no problem with that… just meant I got some serious Thank You Points.

He told me that it would take about a week and he’d give me a call when it was done.

I wondered if you noticed, later that day when we reconvened at your place, if I seemed brighter and bouncier. I felt like I couldn’t contain myself with the excitement of such a big moment. But I tried to just be cool, lest you catch on that something was up.

The one thing everyone wanted to know was how I was going to propose. I told the jewelers that the only place of any prominence with us was Jilly’s, the bar where we first met. They had some suggestions but I didn’t really like them… I didn’t want the ring coming in food or a drink, or to even let it out of my possession. And I wanted to be the one to give it to you.

So I mentioned a scenario that had been rolling around in my head, where I make a play off of what I told you the day we met, when I didn’t want to let you get away. Rather than spend the rest of my bar-going days wondering if I’d ever see you again, I reached for your arm and said, “Wait, why don’t we just go out?

Well, the jewelers loved my idea, as did everyone I told it to at work (and over the phone and via email. I really should have kept my yap shut. I totally broke my own rule of keeping big news quiet until it was over and done, lest something mess it up.)

But still, when I told people what I was going to do, everyone LOVED IT. Several people told me they got goosebumps. So I basically sent my idea through a Focus Group to get it woman-approved.

I went back to the jeweler the next Saturday but he said he had to send it out to be assembled because he didn’t have that setting on hand. He told me he expected it back by the end of the week. I’d been hoping I’d have a week to prepare my plan, which I was targeting for Mother’s Day. But all things considered, I didn’t really need that much time.

Thursday afternoon, when I was working from home, he called and said it was ready. I went to pick it up that evening and was thrilled. I thought it was absolutely beautiful and exactly what I wanted.
Then I wrote the largest check I’ve ever written in my life. Made me feel like a bigshot! Dude probably raced straight to the bank to make sure it cleared before I got out of the parking lot.

Who knew that my going to the Orioles game Friday night almost ruined the whole thing? I was at my usual pre-game bar with Sitcom Kelly and her Sitcom Sister, telling them about my plans. The bar manager, who’s been hooking us up with discounts for the last five years, was listening in. He asked if he could crash the wedding. (I said he could if he makes it to Pensacola next summer.)

Then you and I went to the Orioles game on Saturday and visited the same bar before the game. I was worried that the bar manager might say something, but he didn’t. But then, the bartender, who I’d never seen before that day, said to us, “So, I hear you’re getting married!
  Source

I almost shit. But I thought I recovered well enough.  I said, “Well yeah, eventually… but not anytime soon…" We laughed it off. Then when you left to visit the ladies room, I said to her, in a tortured manner, “I’m going to ask her to marry me TOMORROW.”

Poor girl was horrified. She said the bar manager had told her we were getting married. See, I knew I shouldn’t have been blabbing my plans around town. Almost bit me in the ass.

And speaking of bites in the ass, you gave me one Saturday night, didn’t you? After the game when we were back at your place having a drink and sitting on the couch, we were discussing our future wedding plans. And you said something like “Wedding plans? It’s not like I have any evidence of any wedding plans…” as you waved your ring-less ring finger in front of me.

I was like, “She did NOT just give me a “Put a Ring on it” move…” I was thiiiis close to stomping into the bedroom, retrieving the ring from my bag and going, “OK, fine. Here’s your evidence, SmartassHappy now?” But a plan’s a plan.

Earlier that morning, I had gone down to “our” bar and spoke with the bartender, the one who was there when it all started. As you know, she’s a very stately, white-haired, English woman, who looks like she should be teaching at Hogwarts. I had a role for her in this event and thought she’d be willing.

She totally was. And more importantly, she’d be on duty Sunday, despite it being Mother’s Day. She said she’d make sure my usual barstool was available. I asked her to ask us, when she had a moment, “Remind me again how you two met up?” I said to make sure she said to “remind her,” because she absolutely knew how we met, and you know that. But that was the cue for us to tell our favorite story. I was going to change the ending.

When we were together Thursday night, I planted the seed about going to the bar for a drink on Sunday, after we ran our errands. You seemed quizzical about it… While we do hang out at various bars from time to time, we don’t usually set it up in advance. But I wanted to get a stake in the ground.

And you agreed, thank goodness, even though I could tell it wasn’t very high on your list of things you wanted to do that Sunday. So thank you for that.

While you were getting ready, I was sitting at the table and decided to have a little fun with the ring, so I took this picture.
That’s your ring on your copy of the Sunday puzzles.

Then, when we were in the store and I had the ring deep in my pants pocket, I got the idea to hold up the ring behind you while you were facing away, and take another picture.

But I abandoned that idea because it just didn’t seem like a good idea to tempt fate and have you turn around unexpectedly. But it did make me regret that I didn’t think of it earlier. I could have taken pictures of the ring all over town and all over your house. But again, why tempt fate? I’d probably drop it down a sewer grate.

Finally, it was time to go to the bar, and to our good fortune, the bar area was completely empty. We got our seats; the bartender greeted us and got our drinks. About five minutes in, she came back over and began talking about her husband and how they came to America. And then, she brilliantly pivoted to use her line, to remind her how we got together here.

You began the story, which made me happy. I love watching you tell it. We usually tag-team it to provide both of our points of view. But this time, you blasted right through it. As you were talking, the bartender let out a little gasp and ducked down to grab her phone. She said, “I thought I heard it ringing,” and then set it on the bar.

I thought, “You sly dog… I know what you’re doing. You’re getting the camera ready.”

You continued your story but inside I began to panic. You were getting dangerously close to the part I needed to deliver. So I apologize for butting in so rudely, but it was unavoidable.

I jumped into the narrative and instead of recounting to the bartender how I said, “Wait, why don’t we just go out?” I turned to you and said, “Wait, why don’t we just… get married?

With that, I fished the ring out of my shirt pocket and held it under your chin, waiting for the joyful explosion… that didn’t come. I even waved it a little bit but you didn’t seem to be reading me.

Little did I know that you were first thinking, “Why did he butt into my story,” and then, “Hey, that’s not how the story goes…

But then the lights came on and there was joyfulness onto the world.

And most importantly, you said “Yes.

I tried to put the ring on your finger, but I knew it wasn’t going to go on.

Months ago, I found one of the rings you wear on your ring finger and traced the inside of it onto one of my business cards.
I brought it with me so the jeweler would have a good starting point. But alas, when I picked up the ring last Thursday, it didn’t even fit over the first knuckle of my pinky. When I checked it against the circle on the card, you couldn’t see the circle, which meant the ring was going to be too small.

So I tried, but we’ll have to go back next Saturday and get it resized. At least you have this week to wave it around to all your friends at work. Just stay away from sewer grates.

You told me later that you hadn’t really wanted to go to the bar that afternoon, but you saw that I really wanted to, so you just went with it. And I told you that’s one of the reasons I love you that way I do. You do things like that for me all the time and I want you to know that I recognize it and I appreciate it. And I’ll do my best not to drag you along to places you’d rather not go.

I want to make it my top priority to be worthy of you and your love. You truly make me want to be a better man.

I love you and I can’t wait to be your husband.

Of course, after all the time we just spent trying to figure out who was the fiancé, who was the fiancée, and where the accent marks go, we’d better practice with those titles for a while.

The Obligatory Clasped Hands with Ring picture.


9 comments:

  1. Beautiful story. Beautiful couple. Soul mates forever.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This story made me tear up and laugh out loud. I love that you had a focus group. Congratulations and best wishes. And if you need a flower girl...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've found it best to run any major decisions regarding my interactions with "the ladies" past a panel of female friends.

      Back when I was actively using Match.com, (early 2000s) I had a couple of friends I referred to as "The Sisterhood," and I'd run all my decisions past them... where to go, what to wear, when to call, what to say, etc. Now I have a different work group, but still some reliable voices to help keep me on the straight and narrow.

      Delete
  3. Congratulations Tony & Cary! I also teared up at the end. Beautiful love story with the best people in it! So happy for you both!!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Congratulations Tony & Cary! So happy for both of you, beautiful love story with the best people!!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I'm so glad you got to meet her! (And vice versa.)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Congratulations, dude! You're a lucky guy and Sweetpea didn't do too bed, either.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I'm glad you are loved and happy and I'm glad you found someone who brings out your best. Your a very good,sweet ,loving human..you deserve
    Love,fare well Dear Tony...Xo

    ReplyDelete

Comments are like crack to a blogger... Please help me get my fix by leaving a comment! And be sure to check back for my reply. Consider it the Afterparty!