When Mitch and I started dating, he was 18 and I was 21. Even at the time I could not freaking believe I was dating a teenager. And I’d like to say that, just so you know, Mitch was super mature for his age, but really? He wasn’t. He was really nice, and really sweet, and really genuine– but he was still just eighteen.
We had a rocky relationship for those first two-ish years. But, even so, when people ask me when I ‘knew’ I was in love with Mitch, I have come to the conclusion that I think I always knew. Lets be real– I spent three years spending almost every Friday and Saturday at hockey games. Me. A girl who hates sports, thinks aggression is lame, is not a fan of the cold, and gets frustrated while learning the rules to card games. If THAT’S not true love, then it doesn’t exist, friends.
I’ve all ready detailed about our make up/break up situations and how we had an extended break up, followed by a beautiful little love scene in which we decided that we were In It To Win It. So I pretty much knew that we were set. But still– if I may– even if it is stereotypical and a little silly and a little materialistic, there are few moments in my life quite as exciting as when we were walking past Zales at the mall and Mitch said, “Hey…. do you want to go in?”
Mitch bought my ring in January 2008 and asked me to marry him in March. What happened during those two months? Well I’ll tell you.
First, he had to ask my Dad for permission. This is funny, because, first of all, it’s not like my Dad really could GIVE permission. I’d been out of the house for 6 years at this point. Mitch and I were living together. And I’m not exactly the poster child for Honoring Thy Father in any case. If my Dad had said No, probably Mitch would have come home and ratted him out and my Dad would have gotten quite the phone call from his Little Princess that night. But Mitch is Mitch. And even though he certainly wants to do everything HIS WAY, he also wants to make sure that everything gets done THE RIGHT WAY.
So he called my Dad and asked him if they could have breakfast. This is one of those moments when I wish I could have been a fly on the wall– I’m sure that my Dad woke my Mom up and told her and she fretted around the house, because come on– what else could this mean?
Mitch and my parents haven’t always had the best of times. As aforementioned, when he came onto the scene, Mitch was 18. Do you remember being 18? I do. I thought I knew EVERYTHING. And have you met my parents? Because, the thing is, between the two of them, they actually DO know everything. I’ve been bringing boys home for many years before I met Mitch, and trust me, it’s not for the faint of heart. The word Vivisection comes to mind. But, you know, I was all in love and everything. So when I brought home my teenage, conservative, Junior Olympian (this is true!) boyfriend from North Dakota to meet my ultra-liberal, know-everything, hippie parents, things didn’t always go so well.
Luckily my parents have a fantastic sense of humor, and have never held a grudge in their lives. And also luckily, Mitch and I eventually loved each other enough to realize that we weren’t marrying each others families. The only person he needed to worry about being compatible with was me.
My mom has told me that she knew that This Was It long before he proposed to me. One night, almost a year prior, while Mitch and I were broken up (AND I was dating someone else) my brother and I got into a drunken argument after he made a quip about Mitch being a giant. I screwed up my face and glared at him and said, “Knock it off. Because I’m going to marry him.”
So it wasn’t a huge surprise when Mitch came calling. But still. I’ll bet it drove my Mom crazy that she hadn’t been invited along. But I bet she also wouldn’t have wanted to be there. She’s too Scandinavian for emotional displays. Especially first thing in the morning.
So Mitch and my Dad went out for breakfast at a little diner in my hometown. They sat down and ordered coffee, and Mitch lead with, “So…. how’s it going?”
And my Dad replied, “I approve.”
But that didn’t stop Mitch from giving his speech anyway. I don’t know what he said, exactly. Neither of them will tell me. But according to my Mom, my Dad was so touched– “so humbled” were her exact words– that when he came home he went into his room to think for awhile.
Must have been quite the buzz kill. I kid, I kid.
So now he had the ring, he had permission– I’d picked the damn ring out, so it’s not like I was going to say no– so all he had to do now was ask.
His first attempt was that weekend, at one of my brother’s concerts (have I told you that my brother is a rock star? He is. More on that some other time). He had the ring with him, and we were out on the dance floor, and he was going to be all, you know– I love you so much and you’re so wonderful, and oh let me tie my shoe, or something, and then whip out the ring.
Only…. well…. see…. the thing is…. there were lots of people…. and…. we’d had a lot to drink…. and…. everyone was watching…. so…..
His second attempt was Valentine’s Day. He made reservations at my favorite restaurant, bought me a digital photo frame, and loaded a bunch of pictures of us dating and kissing and loving each other, and then the last frame was going to be all “Will You Marry Me?” And stuff.
Only…. have I told you about Mitch’s time management skills? Not the best. Love him to pieces. But not the best.
So at 5:00, on the dot, he was at the bank, begging the teller to let him into the safe deposit box where I had put the ring a few weeks prior so that Mitch wouldn’t lose it (he’s also not the best at Not Losing Valuable Things). The teller explained to him that, sadly, she did not have access to that part of the bank.
“But….” he sputtered, “It’s Valentine’s Day.”And I’ll bet that in the movie in his mind, her heart grew three times its size, the teller broke down the door, and as the alarm sounded he grabbed our ring and made a break for it, through the rain, with heartwarming music swelling in the background. But the movie in the teller’s mind included her keeping her job. So it was a no-go.
I was only half-expecting him to propose that day. It’s pretty cliche, and I figured that he would think I was expecting it and that it would totally throw me off. So imagine my surprise when, on February 15th, my Mom called me and said,
“Has Mitch proposed yet?”
Um. No. No, mother, he has not. Why do you ask?
“Well he talked to your Dad a long time ago.”
Attempt number 3 was on some normal day in March. I came home from class to find Mitch making me chicken parmesan, all dressed up, candles lit, roses on the table.
“What’s all this?” I asked.
“Nothing.” He mumbled.
Did I mention that the meal was all ready finished? All ready plated? Cooling, in fact? And yet, my-then-boyfriend-soon-to-be-fiance was toasting bread and rolling it between his hands to make breadcrumbs. He had amassed a small mountain of bread crumbs all ready, and was working his way through the entire loaf of bread.
“Are you making more?” I asked him, staring at the feast of all-ready-breaded chicken in front of me.
“Nope.” He said, and continued to crumble bread. I don’t think he looked at me the entire meal.
The next morning, I woke up early for work. It was a teacher inservice day, and I was going to deep clean my classroom. So I was getting some supplies together, getting dressed in nasty sweats, and packing some snacks. Mitch came out into the kitchen and asked me what I was doing.
“Packing up.” I said, and launched into some story about how my kids liked to paint with their boogers, and even though the custodian was a very nice man, I wasn’t sure that those boogers were sanitized. I mean, I understood that they were NEVER COMING OFF THE WALL, but could they at least be sanitized? And in the meantime, there’s the green Jello that just won’t come off the FLOOR–
And then I stopped talking, because Mitch was doing this thing where he stood very close to me and stared at me without blinking. Like Max from Where the Wild Things Are, taming the monsters.
“I have something for you to take to work.” He said finally.
“Ok.” I said slowly.
He took a deep breath, and pulled the ring out from behind his back.
I did one of those girl things– one third sigh, one third scream, one third sob– and looked back up at him. He took my hand and put the ring in my palm and then said,
“I need to know. Are you going to marry me or not?”
Eloquence, always, with this one. Sheer poetry.