This coming weekend marks the 29th anniversary of when I asked Molly to marry me. And also, coincidentally enough, of when she said yes.
We started dating in the fall of 1979, after Molly’s Gift of the Rubber Ball let me know that she was available and interested. We’d been good friends for several years by then, and it wasn’t long at all before we had a pretty good idea that we liked each other a lot, and that we had enough common ground to think about throwing our lives in together. By January of 1980, I think we both knew that we were going to end up married to each other, which just left me with the question of how to execute the proposal. . .
I made at least one misstep – or at least, so it was perceived by Molly at the time. One evening, she was hanging out with me at the house where I lived (at the time, I was living with a family in the community; it was common, in those days, for single folks to spend some time living with families, especially if the singles were heading toward marriage in the somewhat-near future). We were in the basement, alone together, watching something on TV. Doing nothing in particular, really; just enjoying each other’s company. I had my arm around her, and it was just a very pleasant, comfortable occasion. And Molly decided that this would be just the perfect time, and the perfect scenario, for me to propose to her. Which I, not being privy to those thoughts of hers, failed to do. So she was kinda upset with me for a day or two afterward. We got that situation cleared up, without too much difficulty. And besides, I was developing my plan. . .
We had a regular pattern of going out together on Friday nights, and when I checked with her to confirm that we could get together the coming Friday, as usual, I told her that she should wear something nicer than usual, because I had something special in mind. A couple days later, I asked her if she had decided what she was wearing Friday night; when she said she had, I asked her what color it was (I didn’t explain myself for asking the ‘color’ question; it was so I could get her a matching corsage, but I didn’t explain that to her; I just left the question hanging, for her to wonder about). By this time, we both knew that we wanted to get married, and the proposal itself was almost a formality. So, my ‘telegraphing’ the plan for the evening was something of an ‘inside joke’ between the two of us.
I picked her up at the appointed time, and the women in her house fawned and fussed over us, and made us pose for pictures (so yeah – Molly had ‘no idea’ what was gonna happen that night; but her housemates were all taking pictures. . .) I pinned the corsage to her dress, and she remarked as to how it matched her dress. At which point, she suddenly understood the weird question I’d asked earlier in the week.
We went to a nice, fairly high-end restaurant (at least, fairly high-end for OurTown), called Mountain Jack’s (which, alas, no longer exists). Our waitress, seeing us dressed to the nines on a Friday evening, asked us, “Are we celebrating something tonight?”
To which I replied, “Not yet.”
The waitress, who was a pretty sharp cookie, came right back, saying, “Well, what if she says No?” Which gave me a split-second’s pause, because I really hadn’t considered that possibility, unlikely as I thought it was.
I didn’t wait very long into dinner (I’m not much for small talk, just to fill the time, and besides, the waitress’ comment made me want to get her answer on the sooner side) before I reached across the table, took her hand in mine, looked into her eyes, and asked her if she would marry me. Nothing flowery or elaborate; I didn’t get down on one knee, or even offer her an engagement ring. Just asked her to marry me.
And she said Yes.
And as odd as it might seem, that’s when we had our first kiss. Which was rather more awkward than I’d have preferred – we were on opposite sides of the table, and we both had to sort-of half-stand-up and reach our puckered lips across the table to each other. But hey, it was our first kiss. We’ve gotten better, over the years.
I don’t remember that much about the dinner; we just sorta basked in the glow of this 'new phase' of our courtship. We’d been pointing to this for a while, and now we’d done it – made our promise to each other, that we would make one life of our two, and, God willing, have a family together (if we’d only known. . .)
After dinner, we weren’t ready for the night to be over, but on a Friday night in February in OurTown, we couldn’t come up with many attractive spur-of-the-moment-type options. So we ended up going to a movie. We saw ‘The Electric Horseman’, starring Robert Redford and Jane Fonda (which probably tells you something about the caliber of movies that were out in the winter of 1980), but it didn’t matter all that much; we sat in the back, and mostly worked on our kissing technique. . .
So that’s the story of how I proposed to Molly. Nothing fancy, but it seems to have been effective. . .