OTHER NIGHT, I TURNED OFF THE HOT WATER, dried my hands, and stopped washing
the dishes long enough to ask K. to marry me. She said yes. We kissed and
hugged, she admired the ring I gave her, and I went back to washing the
dishes, after which I cooked dinner -- mushroom and swiss chard risotto.
I'd wanted to wait a bit longer, actually -- till this
weekend, probably, when the weather might have been nicer. After all, no
sooner did I have the ring in hand than K. came down with the flu. I spent
a few days nursing her, but I can't say that it seemed a good idea to pop
the question while she lay in bed, achey and puffy-eyed, so I didn't. As
soon as she was better, the weather turned nasty ,and we got the inevitable
last snows before spring. The thermometer went below zero and the ground
was covered with slushy, wet snow and it didn't seem like a good time to
go for a walk in High Park or down by Sunnyside. So the ring stayed in
its little box, though I'd hidden it in a gramophone after K. pointed out
that she knew what it was, and that it was driving her crazy looking at
it when she used my computer.
To be honest, I'd been feeling quite guilty about not
popping the question as soon as I could, especially when I was in a bookstore
and suddenly recognized the song they were playing over the store speakers.
I love you so, I always will.
at you and see the passion eyes of May,
but am I ever gonna see my wedding day?"
"Wedding Bell Blues", written by Laura Nyro for the Fifth
Dimension. I'd always kind of liked the Fifth Dimension, in spite of "Let
the Sunshine In", though this song always seemed a bit of an anachronism
amidst the slicked-up peace and love vibes on most of their records. It's
a real old-fashioned plea for "the piece of paper", the whole white-dress-and-three-tiered-cake
ceremony, apparently so old school and oppresive in those groovy times.
I should know better than to believe those kind of generalizations -- they
were as false as the passionate declaration of my twenty-five year-old
self that I'd never get married.
in your voice I hear a choir of carousels,
but am I ever gonna hear my wedding bells?"
It's a pretty overwrought bit of verse, here on the naked
page (or screen, or whatever), aimed at the typical male, afraid to commit,
even though he might be utterly devoted in every other way. The singer's
perspective is understandable; she's stuck with old Bill through thick
and thin, and from the sound of it, old Bill hasn't had the best of luck.
He sounds a bit on the self-absorbed side, to be honest -- no raging
asshole user or anything, but a bit of a navel-gazer, a bit passive-aggressive
and conveniently happy to remind his lady love that she's a "free agent,
the master of your own destiny -- I'd never try to tell you what to do,
honey. I don't own you, and you don't own me." Laudable, sensitive new-age
guy crap that's really just a neat way of evading any responsibility for
though devotion rules my heart I take no bows,
Bill you're never gonna take those wedding vows."
Suddenly, I felt very guilty. Never mind that I fully
intended to ask the question -- and as soon as possible -- but, well, the
time just didn't seem right. Well, I guess the time is just never going
to be perfect, so I'd better get a move-on. After all, it's something she
seems to want, badly. I don't have any illusions about being the perfect
catch -- sometimes the luckless Bill and I have more than a little in common
-- and if she's willing to throw her lot in with me, it's the least I can
do to make it formal, to -- in the annoying parlance of the day -- make
And so I waited, one day, then the next, hoping for a
good moment, maybe after dinner, maybe if the weather clears up. Then I
get an e-mail from K. at work.
average unmarried female, basically insecure
to some long frustration may react
psychosomatic symptoms, difficult to endure
the upper respiratory tract.
words just from waiting around for that plain little band of gold
can develop a cold."
Guys and Dolls. Miss Adelaide's song to her wiseguy
beau, Nathan Detroit. Touché. Time to get my ass in gear. So I start
thinking about how to do it, what words to say, and I start doing the dishes.
I'm deep in my thoughts when K. comes home. I don't hear her come in, take
off her shoes, or hang up her coat. I'm still soaping the dishes when she
comes up behind me. I'm startled, and so I turn off the tap, collect myself,
dry my hands and...