Whenever I tell someone I have a fiance, there’s one question that almost always follows: “How did you two meet?” I think it’s because that’s the most stereotypical romantic comedy cute moment in a relationship, and they want to see how cute of a couple we are. Unfortunately, it’s a little hard to boil down our meeting to a single cute “I tripped and fell at her feet outside a flower shop and we were instantly in love” or “I pulled her from a burning building, dropped to one knee, and asked her to marry me then and there” type anecdote. But here goes, if you’re curious.
How We Met (And Started Dating)
We met almost 4 years ago because my best friend was dating her best friend at the time. Apparently (I found this out later), her best friend called her right after meeting me and said “oh my God, I just found the man of your dreams.” My now-fiance then looked up my Facebook profile picture and said “uh, I’m not so sure about that.” But at some point my best friend was coming over to my house with his girlfriend and asked if it was okay to bring someone else, and I said sure. I was pretty awkward the whole time – I was in the midst of building my computer when they showed up – and I was pretty sure she thought I was a dork. She asked me to show her the inside of my computer and I wound up explaining the different parts I was putting in and what they do, all the while thinking in my head “this is NOT how you flirt when you just met a pretty girl.”
I liked her pretty immediately after that, and apparently she liked me too, but neither of us knew it was reciprocal and we didn’t get together for several months. She dated another guy in the meantime, so I was unsure of how to get to know her better without intentionally or unintentionally impeding their relationship. At one point I went to a birthday dinner for her, and I wound up sitting on one side of her at the table while her boyfriend sat on the other; she wound up turned toward me chatting pretty much the whole night, barely talking to him. I didn’t get her a present (I only found out about the dinner about an hour beforehand), but I folded an origami crane out of a receipt and gave it to her, which she seemed to appreciate.
I moved into an apartment near UCSD with my best friend toward the end of the summer that year, so his girlfriend was over a lot, and my now-fiance came with her a lot. In retrospect, there were a lot of clues that we liked each other. She would come over in the morning and hang out all day, even when my best friend’s girlfriend wasn’t around. I was a research assistant in a professor’s lab that summer, but if she came over on days I was gonna go into lab I would usually just stick around and not mention I had planned to go somewhere. I downloaded Facebook Messenger on my phone just so I could talk to her during the day when I was away from my computer; we chatted for a bit and then I said something like “hey, I like talking to you more than I dislike Facebook Messenger, but I do dislike Facebook Messenger. Could I have your phone number?”
One time she stayed over pretty late and we decided to try to make something out of a pretty hard origami book I had; we settled on trying to make origami centaurs. We sat outside on the patio under the moonlight trying to figure out exactly what “crimp fold” or w/e was supposed to come next. At one point I had this feeling like she was thinking about kissing me (I later found out she was). But she didn’t, and I didn’t, and we finished our origami centaurs and she went home. A few nights later my roommate had a birthday party, and at some point during the festivities I became confident enough she liked me that I kissed her. Well, sort of. First I think I told her “I like you a lot,” which she reciprocated. Then I’m pretty sure I said something like “I’m going to kiss you now, if that’s alright.” We’ve been together ever since!
Let’s Talk About Wedding Rings
Okay, so there’s a lot that’s weird about wedding rings and engagements. We could talk about the De Beers marketing campaign that creepily inserted diamonds into this whole business some time in the 40’s and what that says about American capitalism and commercialism, but this isn’t the politics thread. I wanna talk about how weird the rest of the ritual around asking a girl to marry you is.
Here’s the ritual as I understand it. The guy sneaks out to a jeweler, and spends 2 entire months of salary on a little clear rock that’s cut to look shiny, along with a ring it sits in. He stashes this away while he plots an elaborate scheme to, when she least expects it, drop to one knee and pull out a little black box. As she brings a hand to her mouth and gasps, he asks her to marry him. And if he’s plotted an elaborate enough scheme, she says shrieks with shock and joy, and says something dramatic like “Yes, YES, A THOUSAND TIMES YES!”
A lot of this just doesn’t make sense. I promised not to get too much into how weird it is that we’re using diamonds in the first place, but two months’ salary is a lot of money, particularly when in the best case scenario, you’re likely to have a whole wedding to pay for in the not-too-distant future (let alone if you want to buy a condo or something once you’re married). Then he’s supposed to plot an elaborate scheme, like he’s trying to pass some kind of intellectual and logistical Feat of Strength to prove his worthiness as a a suitor. Then he’s supposed to surprise her with one of the most important decisions she’ll make in her life, and expect an answer after the span of a normal pause in a conversation. All of that is actually crazy.
You might think from the way I’m talking that I’m trying to justify the fact that I went some alternate route. I didn’t. I saved up a bunch of money, I bought a diamond ring for a little over 2 months’ pay, I hid the ring until after her birthday dinner I told her I’d give her a ride back to her car since I was parked closer. She got in, turned to shut her door, and when she turned around I had pulled out the ring. Because I knew going in how weird and crazy the whole proposal ritual is, but it also made her happy.
Here’s a weird part I didn’t know going in, though. It should be obvious that by the time you’re thinking of asking a girl to marry you, she is also thinking about it, and is on the lookout for when you’re going to ask her. In our case we had talked plenty about marriage, and she had even explicitly told me what kind of ring to buy, so she knew it was coming at some point. That meant she was always looking for signs that I was about to propose. And you know what crazy part of this process hadn’t occurred to me before? That magic little box you’re supposed to dramatically open while you’re down on one knee is bulky as hell.
That means there is absolutely no way you can keep that thing in a pocket. Even when I put it in the pocket of a pretty bulky jacket, the form factor was definitely visible. There was a little while where I was thinking about some real harebrained solutions like wearing a polo shirt underneath a sweater and keeping it in the breast pocket, or taping the thing to my side or something. I eventually settled on the car thing, partly because I thought she’d spend the whole dinner expecting me to propose and might have given up by then, but mostly because that way I could just stash the thing in my car.
The wedding is set for January 2019, so we’ve got a little while to prepare. Washington State coach Mike Leach tells me I’m in for a rough time, although so far I’ve found that if I actually take an interest in the wedding planning, instead of giving whatever answer I think will allow me to go do something else the soonest, it seems to go alright.
If this is unreadable garbage, sorry! That’s probably because I didn’t have a chance to edit it. That’s because she just arrived, and I have to go celebrate. Happy Valentines’ Day, TL!