Our daughter Casey got engaged on Christmas day, and throughout the year, I’ll occasionally interrupt my usual rants to bring you up to date on the wedding plans and whether or not I have hung myself yet.
But first, let me summarize how we got into this situation.
To use movie terminology (since Casey is a film teacher), the engagement had spent five years in development. Finally, some months ago, Casey informed her co-star Alex that if pre-production did not begin by the end of the year, the entire project might go into turnaround.
During the previous summer, Casey had asked her producers–literally, my wife Barbara and me–if we wanted Alex to officially ask for permission to marry her. I joked that he needed only to show me a pay stub since, at that point, he had never had a …what’s that word again?…oh, right–“job.”
But he became gainfully employed in September, and we pick up our story as the holidays–and Alex’s deadline–are approaching.
Sunday, December 22. Casey and Alex are at Alex’s parents’ second home in Vermont. It had been determined that Alex would let his parents know this weekend that he would soon be proposing. However Alex is a procrastinator, and now it was Sunday, and they were preparing to leave. Casey gave him a subtle hint that it was time for action. The hint was something to the effect of “I’ll take my time packing while you talk to your parents.”
Minutes later, Alex’s mother Laurie came bounding over to Casey yelling “Congratulations,” and Casey had to talk her down a bit, explaining that congratulations were not yet in order, since there had not yet been a proposal. Alex’s announcement had only been, to revert to movie terms, a coming attraction.
Monday, December 23. My wife Barbara and I are on the living room floor playing with our dog Toby when the door opens and Alex comes in. This is somewhat startling because we are not expecting company, and Alex almost never comes in the front door. He virtually lived with us for about two years, and he always came in through the basement where Casey lived until recently.
He dutifully holds out a pay stub and asks permission to marry our daughter. I hug him and say he didn’t have to make a trip just to do that. He replies that’s not really why he came; he needs our help with his proposal scheme.
It should be noted that proposing to our daughter is not all that easy. There are rules. It can’t be in front of family members, for instance. And there has to be a story. There doesn’t need to be flash mobs or helicopters involved like some of the proposals that go viral, but she wants a tale to tell. A simple drop to the knee ain’t gonna get it done.
Alex’s plan is to post on Facebook that they are engaged and have everyone Casey knows comment on this status change…all before Casey knows about it. Alex begins going into the details but Barb and I don’t hear them because we are too occupied vigorously shaking our heads “noooooooooo.” There is no way it would end well having everyone in their circle of acquaintances know Casey was engaged before Casey knew.
“That is not the way to propose to our daughter,” I say. “At least not if you want her to accept. Is there a Plan B?”
“I’ll have to think about it,” Alex replies, and leaves, pay stub in hand.
Tuesday, December 24. Like good Jews, we are having relatives over for Christmas Eve dinner. Casey is downstairs doing last-minute wrapping, and Alex announces his new scheme: he will take her to a Chinese restaurant in Manhattan tomorrow and propose on the subway. This actually makes some sense in a “circle-of-life” sort of way in that they met on a train. (Casey texted us: “There’s a 16-year-old trying to pick me up.” Alex, fortunately, has aged over the years; he looks at least 18 now.) However they met on the Metro North commuter train, which they would have to take tomorrow in order to get to the subway, so I don’t quite understand why he wouldn’t propose on that. But I hold my tongue.
I also don’t say anything about the inherent danger of slipping an engagement ring on my daughter’s finger while riding on the New York City subway system. I withhold this opinion not because it is none of my business, but because there is no ring. There is no ring because Casey hasn’t picked one out yet.
Alex has a stand-in ring, though, one that Casey herself made during her jewelry-making phase, which was right before her improvisational comedy phase and after her sewing phase. Later, Alex asks me if I think it would be a good idea if, when he presents this ring, he says to Casey, “Since we don’t have a ring yet, I thought I’d use this piece of crap I found laying around your house.”
I have no opinion on the matter.
Wednesday, December 25, 8:22 pm. Casey just called as an engaged woman! Barbara and I, for some reason, are not surprised.
Thursday, December 26. The kids, as we sometimes call them so as not to feel ancient, stop by early in the morning on their way back to Vermont, where they will be able to tell Alex’s parents that they can now congratulate Casey, although I suspect it will be somewhat anti-climactic.
Casey relates how Alex proposed near the big glass windows in Grand Central. He went down on his knee and then started fumbling through his pockets, removing keys and loose change before locating the ring, which he indeed presented with his “piece of crap” line. Casey now exchanges that ring for one from Barb’s grandmother, which fits her better, and looks more like an engagement ring rather than a craft project.
“So…” I say. “What do we do next?”
Barbara knows exactly what to do next. She spends the rest of the day on the phone.
Friday, December 27. I get an email from Casey: “Mom said I should make a page on the website theknot.com for when we make the announcement public. So I’m going through it, and there is a section for a proposal story.” This is followed by just such a story, which she would like me to proofread because she is the product of an experimental learning-to-write program in elementary school.
My reply: “Wait…it’s not public? What the hell was mom doing on the phone all day? Surely everyone knows!”
Of course, though, the news must be put online, because, in the Internet age, “everyone” literally means everyone.
Anyway, it was time for Barbara and Casey to start planning this thing…and for me to open my wallet.
See you soon.