7: Scrabble Surprise
7: Scrabble Surprise
Love is a game that two can play and both win.
We met at a ball — I was in an indigo blue gown, he in a dazzling tuxedo. The moment we locked eyes, it was magical. We sipped champagne, giddy as we listened to David Benoit play “The Way You Look Tonight.” The evening flew by as if we were in a dream, and by the end of the event, I felt hope for the first time in years.
Ours was a whirlwind romance. Everyone cautioned us to go slowly — we had both been through so much. And, despite my insistence that I really had no intention of anything serious, we quickly became inseparable. By the end of the summer, we had moved in together and achieved a peaceful harmony. Well, except in one department: marriage.
We had both been married before: he to his childhood sweetheart, who passed after twenty-one years of sweet union, and I to the father of my two children. Despite his desire to eventually marry again, he was in no hurry. I had professed for years that I would not remarry. Then, when faced with the idea of sharing my home, my life, and my children with another man, my traditional values pushed marriage to the surface of my mind once again.
I remember that first Valentine’s Day: I was getting ready for work when my man walked into the master bath with a little velvet box. My heart leapt into my throat, I started to tear up, and suddenly I just knew that life was about to be PERFECT! That is, until I opened the box. Staring back at me was a pair of the most beautiful diamond earrings. He looked at me with a grin from ear to ear, and I quickly tried to hide my disappointment. And, while I’m a fairly good actress, he quickly grasped the emotion I was trying to hide. “Hoping it was going to be a ring, huh?” he said. I nodded, putting the lovely gems in my ears. “It hasn’t even been a year!” he laughed. I nodded again, and thanked him for the earrings as I darted into my closet to get dressed, desperate to hide my tears.
Two months later, we moved our home south when he joined a new firm. I had vowed I wouldn’t move my children unless I was wearing a ring, but by then my heart was his. I just couldn’t stomach the idea of ending the relationship just because he hadn’t yet proposed. We created a new nest together and settled into our loft by the sea. We worked, played, and grew together as a couple and as a family.
As my thirty-eighth birthday approached, we began to talk more about further additions to our little family. I told him that I wouldn’t even consider having children after my fortieth, and that marriage was an absolute requirement if we were going to have a child together.
Our second Valentine’s Day arrived. That morning, I pulled on a beautiful red dress and heels as I prepared for the workday. I asked him if he needed me to come home early for any reason, and he just shook his head and told me he’d see me after work. Confused, and a little frustrated that he might not even have made dinner plans, I left for the office.
The day flew by, and I headed back home, eager to see what awaited me. I had always been a hopeless romantic, so I had gotten him a card and made him a beautiful scrapbook. I arrived home to find him in jeans and a T-shirt in the kitchen. I headed to our bedroom and asked him if I needed to change into anything special. He nonchalantly told me to throw on a pair of jeans and join him. I asked if we were going out to dinner, and he replied with a simple “no.” As I pulled off my beautiful red dress and grabbed my jeans, my confusion and frustration turned to disappointment and resentment. He walked into our bedroom, once again aware of the Valentine’s Day Disappointment Look, and smiled. “Throw a few things in a bag. We’re not going to dinner; we’re going to Mexico!”
For the truly mentally healthy gal, this is the point at which she throws her arms around her lover’s neck and screams, “Whoohoo!” and grabs her gear. And, while I like to think of myself as pretty together, his announcement was met by more of a glare. I packed my overnight bag, helped him grab a few things from the kitchen, and then climbed into the car. I sulked most of the way there, and didn’t even bother to hide my disdainful disappointment in the “quaint” little home he’d rented for the weekend (one step up from a trailer, and not nearly as nice as the other places we’d visited in the past).
Despite my foul mood, his smile didn’t leave his face. He offered me a glass of wine, threw dinner on the grill, and fed me Brie cheese from the cooler he’d packed. It may not have been what I was hoping for, but I softened with every kindness he showed me.
He suggested that we slip into more comfortable attire after dinner, and as I slipped on a red negligee (Hopeless Romantic again) in our bedroom, he prepared a beautiful fire and lounging area in the living room. He’d pulled a futon onto the ground, placed a Scrabble board in the middle of it, and poured us each a glass of champagne. To someone who didn’t know us, this might have looked disastrous — Scrabble on Valentine’s Day? But, to me, it looked like the perfect way to spend what could have been a nightmare of a day.
We shook the bag of letters and started the game as we had so many times in the past. Things started a bit slow, but soon gained speed. I was enjoying the competition, but also aware that the clock was heading toward midnight, and I was exhausted from the long day. I nearly emptied my deck and reached into the bag for more letters. I laughed to myself as I stared at the letters looking back at me. I spelled the word W-E-D, and he laughed as he took his turn. I pulled more tiles from the bag and laughed again, this time aloud. In the triple word space, I spelled the word V-O-W. Amazed, he pulled out tiles to complete a word of his own as I turned to grab my glass from the hearth. As I turned back around, I saw a little red leather box lying in the middle of the Scrabble board. I looked up at him, and he asked mischievously, “Where’d that come from?”
I gingerly picked up the box from the board and opened it to find the most extraordinary ring within. Tears ran down my face as my man offered the sweetest proposal a girl could receive. He kissed me tenderly, then as we separated, I glanced down at the tiles remaining in my deck: D-O-I-I. A warm smile crossed my face as I reorganized the letters and turned the deck to my fiancé. He laughed, eyes glistening, as he read them: I, I Do.
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