Thursday, May 29, 2014

Popping the Question

     On June 6th my wife and I will celebrate our 16th wedding anniversary.  16 years.  If we were a person we would be driving a car.  If we were a fine sippin' whiskey we'd be about ready for consumption.  If we were a dog, we'd be dead.  16 years.  That's a long time.  I still remember way back in the day when 6 months was an accomplishment when it came to a relationship.  16 years.  Lots of stuff can happen in 16 years, and I like to think that we have improved with age.  Kinda like some old cheese or something.  Maybe wine would be a better analogy, because old cheese can get funky.  I'm one funky white boy, but old cheese is not the best adjective to describe my wonderful marriage.  Today I want to go back to when it all began.  The day I actually proposed to Miss Cheryl, and the events that led up to that proposal.  16 years.  We're just getting warmed up.

     The marriage proposal is one of those things that can make or break you as a potential suitor.  You really need to think about how you're going to sweep her off her feet, and show her just what kind of awesomely romantic fellow you really can be.  Flowers and candy are to low brow for this event, and I have always fancied myself a romantic guy at heart.  I met Miss Cheryl in court way back in the day while I was working in Law Enforcement.  That's right I said, "court."  I always tell folks that she was arrested for resisting arrest and assault, but the truth is she was doing her kind hearted Cheryl thing, that I have got to know very well over the years, as a volunteer family violence advocate.  Bottom line is:  We crossed paths, went to Taj India for our first date, and the rest as they say in the movies is "history."  True story.  Well after almost a year together we walked down the aisle, but as I mentioned earlier I wanted to come up with a grand idea to propose to my potential bride.  Stuff was about to get real.

     My idea was to recreate our first date.  The first date consisted of eating at the best restaurant in the greater Birmingham area, Taj India, and then attending a movie at the famous Alabama Theater.  We didn't go to just any movie mind you, but yours truly took her to see "Breakfast at Tiffany's."  Audrey Hepburn at her finest.  George Peppard prior to his A-Team turn as Hannibal.  Great movie.  Kind of romantic too, if I may say so myself.  My plan was to do all that over again, and then work something out with the guy who played the "Mighty Wurlitzer" organ before the movie started so I could get up on stage and propose in front of all the people in attendance as a surprise.  She knew it was coming, but she didn't know when.  Technically it was already a formality, because we had already been ring shopping.

     Levy's fine jewelry was the establishment where we looked for the "estate" piece that Cheryl wanted.  She's not your cookie cutter ring type of gal, and she wanted something different.  Well, we found it.  However a road block stood in our way.  I was 25 at the time, and already had a good 2 or 3 years in the Law Enforcement field behind me, and I assumed that I was a pretty established guy.  Well we all know what happens when we assume.  Two months salary is what you're supposed to spend on one of these gimmicks, and I couldn't let De Beers and their "A Diamond is Forever" promotion down.  I've come a long way from stealing a ring out of Mama's drawer to give to the little girl down the street, let me tell you.  However, I may have been a little too confident about my financial footprint.  The guy at Levy's said that the ring would be a certain amount of money, and I surely didn't have that kind of cash on a Policeman's salary, so I did what most folks do and attempted to buy it on credit.  I told the guy that it wouldn't be any problem, because I had fantastic credit.  Which was a true statement, as far as making payments on stuff, and never being delinquent- but undoubtedly that's not all they look at.

     I figured that having a credit card at all those stores like McRae's, Macy's, Rich's, Parisian, Penneys, and even Hickory Farms would put me over the top.  You could imagine my surprise when the guy said, "I'm sorry.  You have good credit, but not enough for this purchase."  Here's the kicker- Cheryl had to buy her own ring.  Or at least, we had to use her credit, because she had much more than I.  Thanks a lot instant credit to buy Reeboks at the mall, a lot of good you did me.  Hold on a minute, I skipped ahead.  The reason we had to buy the ring at that particular time had a direct effect on my proposal ideas.

     Alabama Theater.  Roses.  Audrey Hepburn.  Breakfast at Tiffany's.  Sappy proposal in front of several hundred people while an organ played.  This deal was going to earn me points that would last for quite some time or at least until that Captain Morgan incident on the honeymoon- another story for another time.  What I didn't know is that my soon to be wife had such an affection for the ring that she had picked out, that she had took to visiting the piece of jewelry on her lunch break.  She even brought friends and co-workers with her to admire this ring.  The only problem was that it wasn't her ring, at least not yet.  The fear of someone else coming in at the last second and buying this ring out from under her was reason enough to get this show on the road, and so as I mentioned earlier we went ahead and bought the ring.  Cheryl would not wear the ring, because she said it wasn't "official."  Minor formality that was about to be remedied at all costs.

     I remember it well.  It happened in Hoover, Alabama on U.S. Highway 31.  I could have wrote a song reminiscent of the Allman Brothers mixed with a little "I Swear" by John Michael Montgomery.  The main lyric would be, "I swear by the moon and the stars in the sky, while rollin' down HWY 31......"  That's right, after all of this planning for a super duper awesome proposal at the Alabama Theater with Audrey Hepburn and Indian food.....I ended up proposing in my Jeep while driving down Highway 31.  Romantic son of a gun ain't I?  You bet.  Well it is what it is or it was what it was.  Bottom line.  Cheryl needed a ring, and we had to buy it pronto.  A man has to do what a man has to do, and I did just that.  The rest is history.  No roses, no Audrey Hepburn, no George Peppard, No "Mighty Wurlitzer" playing at the Alabama Theater, and no memory that will last forever in the annals of romantic proposal ideas.  Oh well, like I always say, "Best laid plans are the devil's handiwork."

     I have to say that even though I've been married to my wife for almost two decades, and we've had some ups and downs over the years.  I wouldn't change one single thing.  That unplanned proposal has led to two beautiful children, and a lifetime of happiness.  If I were to get hit by a truck tomorrow, it would be OK.  I've lived more in my 16 years with Cheryl Ann Bruess Perry than I could have in 100 years alone.  I'm one lucky fellow, and that's a fact.  16 years?  We're just getting started.