Vow renewals are so en vogue these days that I began mulling the concept over, ultimately concluding that I’m not really in to it. My original vows seem to be holding up just fine. What I really deserve is a do-over on the actual marriage proposal…
I met my future/current/only husband, Jimmy, at my part-time job at Sizzler Family Steakhouse in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The year was 1980. What started out as any average day at a job waiting tables in the mall, turned out to be life-changing. My friend, a flaky blonde named Kirsten, came bouncing (and I do mean bouncing) up to me during our shift and said, “There’s a new guy on ‘Hot Side’ walk by casually and look at him, but don’t be obvious – come back and tell me if you think he’s cute.” (Kirsten was one of those girls that was only interested in dating guys that other females found attractive. You know the type.)
Perhaps feeling safe because I had a steady boyfriend, or perhaps my looming unforeseen destiny emboldened me – I looked the boy square in the eye, paused for dramatic effect, and said, “Yes, he’s super good-looking!” She squealed in mock despair. I’d like to say something prophetic like, “The rest is history…” But it really wasn’t like that at all. There was a long and winding road to the alter. (The long and winding road you’ve heard tell of.) My future/current/only husband proceeded to date every girl who worked in that restaurant, starting with Her Bounciness, before he ever took a notion to ask me out. I try to tell myself it was because I already had a boyfriend, but I guess it’s moot now.
I spent a good portion of the following year intermittently providing complimentary counseling services to all of the discouraged and downtrodden girls who tried their luck at dating him. I took notes along the way and by the time my golden opportunity arrived, I had garnered plenty of wisdom and insight to draw upon. Add to that a splash of gumption and a dash of intestinal fortitude and the rest truly was history.
Jimmy’s “timing” proved providential in that he asked me out on a night I just happened to be mad at my current boyfriend. We had our first date, if you could call it that, on a rainy Friday night in July of 1981. Michael Jackson was performing his “Thriller” tour downtown at the Centroplex. Jimmy and I were probably the only two teenagers in Baton Rouge without tickets to that concert. Instead, we bought a bottle of Andre Cold Duck at 7-11 and drove out to the lakes at LSU to talk a little and make-out a lot*.
He maintains to this very day that he didn’t even realize we were “boyfriend and girlfriend” for at least another 6-9 months. We didn’t have Facebook statuses back then, so it was admittedly hard to know. Nonetheless, it still hurts my feelings, because I broke up with my boyfriend the very next day and married Jimmy in my heart.
Two years later, when we were both 20, we were strolling casually through the same mall where we met. I can’t remember what we were there to buy originally, but when we walked by a jewelry counter filled with diamond engagement rings, Jimmy stopped walking, jerked his impeccably feathered head over in the direction of the jewelry case and said, “You want one of those?” Understandably overcome by the romance and sheer epic-ness of the moment, my memory is somewhat hazy, but I know I set a world record in diamond selection. We were officially engaged within 3 minutes.
The beautiful, oh-so-poignant moral of this story is that the quality of the proposal does not define nor determine the substance and enduring nature of the commitment.
But still, given the length of this marriage, the least he could’ve done was gotten down on one knee. I’m clearly within my rights to insist upon a “re-do,” but since I barely survived his last knee surgery, we place quite a premium on our joints these days. So I’ve graciously decided to let it go.