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She proposed to me before I proposed to her. Kind of.
We were trying to get her dad to co-sign my new electricity account, so I wouldn't have to put down a deposit. He was justifiably reluctant. "Honey, I don't think so," he told her. "Next month you guys break up and I'm left as a cosigner for some guy you used to date."
"Dad," she told me she'd said, "I'm probably going to marry this guy."
Well, this sort of put the brakes on her story. Marriage was not a subject we had addressed. Suddenly Cindy felt embarrassed. This was an obvious indiscretion. I fell silent and looked away, unwilling to fall for the bait.
"Hey, I'm not trying to pressure you into anything," she said, "that wasn't my intention. It's just that I think we have something real here, don't you?"
I fidgeted, stalled.
"Sure, it's real, but lets not jump into anything here," I said.
"I'm not looking for a proposal," she stressed, then paused. Her eyes opened wide and they locked onto mine. "Maybe I'm proposing to you."
I was dumbstruck. I felt my back against the wall, I couldn't breathe, there was no room to move, nowhere to hide.
"Do you want me to get down on my knees?" she asked, with a smirk.
This was too much.
"Okay, okay, enough of that," I said, waving my hands dismissively at her. "I'm not about to get cornered into a decision like this. When the time comes, and I feel ready to take that step, I'll make the proposal and you can either accept or not. Until then I'd like to get one thing clear. I may not be a huge traditionalist nor a staunch conservative, but when I dance, I still prefer to lead."
We left it at that.
A couple of months later, while we were helping a friend move and we were sweaty and dusty and smelly, I sat her up on an empty table and asked for her hand in marriage. She said yes.
We set a date for October, calculating paychecks and weekends. Halloween. We would drive up to Lake Tahoe on a Saturday, buy the marriage license, and get married on Sunday. I would take two days off work and we'd return on Tuesday.
Right away we decided not to have any family or friends there. It would just complicate matters. Besides, my last relationship had ended over stress related issues brought about by wedding arrangements. I didn't feel like going through that again.
Through a travel agent (this was before the internet) we rented a lovely cabin in the woods; hired a reverend and a photographer, set a time and packed our bags. Then off we went in our rented car.
To anybody who's never been in the Lake Tahoe area, particularly in the fall, you have no idea how breathtaking the world can be. The colors that bounce off the lake's smooth surface, the thick forests and winding roads, the majestic houses built deep inside the brush. It's hard not to keep a permanent silly smile on your face when you're there.
Our cabin was lovely. There were pine trees all around us, and the grounds were covered in cones. Cindy had a blast collecting the nicest among them, when we'd go out for walks.
On Halloween she sent me out to find a flower shop. Anything to make a wedding bouquet with.
I looked everywhere. All the flower shops were closed. Finally, in a grocery store, I found some assorted gladiolus. That's it.
I was dressed and ready, and I didn't want to be around Cindy while she was getting dressed. That would just drive me up the wall. I timed things so I would be back at the cabin with only a half hour to spare. When I arrived she was still in her bathrobe. She hadn't even showered yet. She'd been working on the decorations, putting candles and ribbons everywhere. I wanted to strangle her on the spot. The reverend, the photographer, and the neighbors from a nearby cabin who were going to serve as witnesses would be arriving within the next thirty minutes. And I just looooooove to socialize!
She snatched the gladiolus out of my hand, and with some wild flowers she'd picked up outside, she made a credible bouquet. Poor thing.
The doorbell rang prematurely and Cindy ran into the bedroom to get showered and dressed. Everybody arrived early. I started handing out beers and telling bad jokes. We talked about anything you can think of. I kept saying, "Oh, she'll just be another couple of minutes." And, "I'm sure she'll be out any second now!"
They stopped believing me after awhile, and started looking at their watches. Pretty soon we ran out of beer, worked through most of the rum, and I began to eye the champagne. Finally, an hour and a half after the scheduled time, she poked her pretty head out the door and called me over. "I'm ready," she said. "Start the music!"
I put everybody in their spots.
Due to our distaste for regular wedding marches, and thanks to our somewhat bohemian tendencies, we decided on Ravel's Bolero for our wedding theme. I placed the boombox above the fireplace and pressed play.
What we neglected to keep in mind was the fact that Ravel's Bolero begins low, then grows through a magnificent and slowly paced crescendo, until you have a fortisimo blast blaring out in the end.
Well, the piece was playing but you could barely hear it, and Cindy kept cracking the door open, darting me mean looks that shouted "do something!" So I kept raising the volume, until she was able to hear it.
She was a vision. It was at that moment when I finally realized what I was doing. I was tying myself down to one person. I was vowing to never stray, and to honor and protect her, and defend her against an ever more menacing world for the rest of my days. I was getting married. And I was marrying the most beautiful woman in the world.
Eleven years ago...man, how time flies!!! Really now, have you ever seen a more beautiful bride?
She was glowing, and smiling my way. I knew she was nervous. No longer children, her and I, we knew much about heartbreak. We were taking a giant leap of confidence into eachother's arms. And we were doing so willingly.
However, by the time the ceremony got under way, the music was so damned loud that we couldn't hear a word the reverend was saying. So I had to leave my bride's side, turn down the volume, then run back next to her.
We exchanged our I do's, were pronounced man and wife, and kissed for the first time as a married couple. For months afterwards, we couldn't stop ourselves from referring to one another as "my wife" or "my husband." We were so thrilled to be able to say it, and to feel such pride in our spouses.
It was a long time ago. We've been through many ups and downs, but such is life. I still wouldn't have missed it for anything in the world.
This is the "Top of the wedding cake" picture!