8: A Simple Proposition

8: A Simple Proposition

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Here Comes the Bride

A Simple Proposition

What a distressing contrast there is between the radiant intelligence of the child and the feeble mentality of the average adult.

~Sigmund Freud

“I need to see you tonight.” The urgency in the voice on the other end of the phone sent a cold chill curling up my spine. Why the man I was dating insisted on traveling thirty miles to see me on a weeknight, I wasn’t sure. I’d worked all day, taught at a nearby university that evening, and my only plans had to do with peanut butter and jelly and a flannel nightgown. But something in his voice was compelling. So I pulled on an old pair of jeans and a sweater and agreed to see him.

Ernie arrived looking worried. Something was up. As we drove in silence to a nearby sports bar, my mind raced.

Perhaps, I speculated, he wanted to break off our relationship. After all, I had been less attentive lately, consumed by the demands of my new business and my son. Maybe he had met someone else and was a good enough guy to sit down one-on-one and tell me the news. Whatever it was, one thing was clear: This was the night I was going to hear about it.

As we slid into a booth, and ordered two beers and a platter of nachos, I found myself chattering to fill the silence.

“So, how about those Celtics?”

“Can you believe how windy it is?”

“Tom Hanks, you gotta love the guy.”

Nothing I said seemed to warm him up.

Then, in a flash, he pulled a tiny box from his pocket. He placed it gingerly on the table in front of me without saying a word. For a moment, I hesitated. I looked around. The basketball game blared on the phalanx of television sets strategically placed throughout the smoky room. I glanced down at the salsa I had spilled on my faded jeans and smiled. Sometimes, life catches you when you least expect it.

Suddenly, I was the one who didn’t know what to say. I picked up the box and opened the lid. This was it. The moment that could last a lifetime.

I knew he was hanging on my every word. And the only word he wanted to hear was “yes.” But how could I say that? The commitment to marry someone isn’t that simple. In fact, at that moment, nothing in my life seemed simple.

Refinancing my house, for instance. Same house. Same bank. Just a better rate. But after the application, credit checks and reappraisal, there was still a mountain of documents to sign. All for something that seemed so simple.

Even buying toothpaste, at times, seemed mind-boggling. Did I want to whiten or brighten? Should I add fluoride or remove plaque? Did I want the kind more dentists use or was Big Bird’s endorsement good enough for me?

There I sat on the precipitous brink of what could be the rest of my life, face-to-face with the man who could be the one, if only I could say that little, three-letter word. So simple. Yet, so hard.

Disappointed by my silence, he drove me home. For the rest of that night, I dissected his proposal from every angle. Did I know him? I mean, did I really know him? What would it be like to live with him? Did his face turn red when he was angry? Did he snore? Where would we live? How could I trust in marriage again when it had failed me the first time? What would my family think? What would my friends say? Above all, what about my son?

For me, my little boy was the biggest question of all. In recent years, Geoff had grown accustomed to having me all to himself. What would he say? How would he feel?

From my purse, I pulled out the tiny box and showed him the ring. The look of doubt on my face must have been wildly evident even to a five-year-old.

“Mom, do you love him?”

“Yes.”

“Then you should marry him.”

In one quick exchange, my son had brought me back to the heart of the matter. Literally. With a child’s clarity, he reminded me that some things really are quite simple. Not nearly as complicated as we grown-ups sometimes choose to believe.

“Do you love him?”

In my complex world, I had almost forgotten that there are some things in nature that are elemental. Primal, really. Love is like that. If you truly love someone, then all the rest will fall into place.

And as I write this on the occasion of our tenth wedding anniversary, I have to say it did. And it does.

~Rita Lussier

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