17: I Love Lucy

17: I Love Lucy

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Here Comes the Bride

I Love Lucy

One of the things I learned the hard way was that it doesn’t pay to get discouraged.

~Lucille Ball

“Happy?” my brand-new fiancé asks. I smile and nod, pretty certain that I’ve never been happier.

Sitting mid-restaurant, puppy-eyed and giddy, we share a bottle of champagne and appetizers. It’s all very Disney’s Lady and the Tramp, minus the shared meatball. He tinkers with the sparkling diamond, which has found its home on my left hand in just the past twenty-five minutes.

I think through the past four hours, trying to rejoin reality... I want to remember it all!

I recall a phone conversation with my father; he had uncharacteristically failed to ask about my plans for the evening, and then sounded funny when I told him about them anyway. My boyfriend and I had reservations at the nicest steakhouse in town. I’d chosen a dress he’d never seen.

“Wow, you look great!”

“Thanks! You, too.” Dockers and a collared shirt, an extra effort, very handsome!

We went to church before dinner and arrived at five-fifteen for our six o’clock reservation. A typical Saturday night in one of the hottest spots — people crowded the corridor, the bar, and the tables inside the restaurant area...

The hostess giggled as she seated us early, making it clear that she had chosen a special spot, all the while looking cow-eyed and adoringly at John.

“Do you know her?” I’d asked.


“She acts like she knows you; why would she seat us so early?”

“She didn’t,” he’d said, though she’d done so, just as we’d gotten drinks from the bar. John had handed the bartender his entire wallet in payment. Both weird, but I’d had no reason for suspicion. He claims now that he’d been nervous but I hadn’t noticed.

By the time we got our appetizers, it was clear this was no typical evening: the most beautiful engagement ring I’d ever seen was brought out under glass.

John got down on one knee...

“Will you marry me?” he’d asked.


He’d reached for the ring box to put the ring on my finger, found it empty, momentarily panicked, then realized I was already wearing it!

“I guess that means you like it?”

“It’s PERFECT!” Tears blurred my vision.

Since we were already center stage, he stood up and announced to the entire restaurant that we were engaged. Pulling me to my feet, he threw our arms up in the air as if we had just won Olympic medals. People everywhere clapped. By that point, simultaneous laughter and crying had overcome me.

We called both families from the patio of the restaurant on John’s cell and planned trips to visit them the next day.

As we’d returned to our tables, he’d said, “You can see now why I wanted to get that out of the way before the steaks came... so I could eat my dinner!”

He confessed:

• He had gotten to the restaurant before picking me up and made arrangements with the manager, hostess, and wait staff.

• The previous night, he’d left work early, headed to my dad’s barbershop, and waited his turn for a haircut that he never intended to receive.

• Dad had given “permission for my hand,” a cliché that made me cry.


He had done everything correctly! It was all so romantic that it was hard to believe it was actually happening to me!

I heard myself babbling Lucille Ball-style... Nervous excitement had taken over. Relaxed, John ate his dinner as he’d hoped. Mine sat in a take-out box.

Now we’re nibbling on fancy sweets. He’s smiling like he’s just won the lottery and playing with the diamond he’s just put on my finger.

“You know,” John says abruptly, snapping me out of the dream-night video playing in my head, “it’s a little big; we need to get it sized as soon as possible.”

“It’s not that big!” I insist, waving my hand to prove that the diamond will remain on my finger.

As if on cue, it flies off and into a coin-size slot where the booth connects to the wall! Forgetting dress and heels, I wiggle to the floor and crawl around, searching like crazy. John meets me under the table and escorts me back to my seat.

“Oh, John, you scared me. Give it back to me.”

“I don’t have it, honey. It’s not on the floor.”

I look at him, through him, and try to laugh. “No kidding, give it to me!”

He’s pointing to the tiny entryway. “Gina, we both saw that ring fly! It passed right by my face and slid into that slot! You couldn’t make a shot like that twice! It’s in the wall!”

The waitress comes over again to congratulate us and see if we need anything else.

“I LOST MY RING!” I hear the famous Lucy whine come from my side of the booth.

“You’re not going to believe this,” John says. “She waved her hand and the ring — it was a little big — flew off her finger and right here into the wall!”

“Are you sure?” She’s as baffled as we are. She calls a busboy over, and he leaves and returns with a long stick of some sort. He is trying to swipe it toward the floor and out of the booth.

“You don’t understand,” John’s voice quivers. “It’s in the wall. I saw it. I’m sure it’s in the wall.”

Soon we are escorted to a different table where we watch busboys disassembling our booth.

People around us begin looking under their tables and passing the story amongst themselves. A woman in the crowd loudly accuses: “You’d think he’d get the right size!”

The manager comes over. “Are you sure you lost your ring? Could it be in your purse or in the bathroom or somewhere?”

John’s voice is adamant. “It is in the wall!”

“Okay, then, when the dining room clears, we will take the booth apart from the wall. You are going to have to wait; we are already disturbing our customers enough.”

We watch everyone slowly digesting meals. Time barely moves. We somberly swallow champagne and then dessert.

I ask: “Do you still want to marry me?”


(Whew!) “You know, my friends would say this was a typical ‘Gina’ thing to do. I can be a little I Love Lucy. You may be in for a lifetime of stuff like this.”

He melts a bit. “Well, I guess I’m warned.”

Eventually, only restaurant employees remain with us. The manager comes over holding a power drill. Two men pull out the booth.

Center wall, between plaster and paint, in the ridge that normally holds the booth’s base, my diamond stares out at us.

The manager looks relieved. “And there it is!”

“Can I kiss you?” I ask, reaching for it, appreciating the man who has put all things right again with his hand drill.

“You should kiss him,” he says, pointing to John.

John grabs the ring out of my hand and places it on my finger — and then we kiss.

~Gina Farella Howley

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