Saturday, October 31, 2009

Name the Date

"Year of the Groom" is an ongoing series.

Alright, decision had been made, what next? Suddenly there was a whole lot of pressure. You want to dazzle her by making it the perfect ring, perfect night, perfect moment.

But I needed to balance that with another set of expectations and goals-- mine.

First and foremost, I needed to purchase the ring of fire. It was Labor Day weekendish. Now I had the money in the bank for my one carat white gold. But Uncle Sam was getting his greedy little paws on most of that. Would she rather marry a solid citizen later or would she rather marry a tax evader now? Granted the "tax evader on the run" kind of thing might play up my nerdy bad boy image. Let's face it, not the smartest way to say "I want to commit to a stable relationship with you." I wasn't about to purchase this with an additional lump on my credit report.

So I start looking ahead to other dates. I could save up for it in about four months. In December, I was expecting a large bonus from my job.

Tahoe, CA . We usually spend New Year's Eve or Xmas up in Tahoe. My mom has a cabin up there and we usually spend the week snowed in with nothing to do. We nap by the fireplace, play board games, read and watch movies. It's the best week of the year. I could take her for a walk out into the backyard where we would instantly be surrounded by a stunning snowscape of white capped pines. Downside, the snow is pretty deep there and the kneeling position might cause irreparable damage to my nethers, which I would need if she said yes. Also, as I have gotten older, I have become increasingly uncomfortable with "doin' it" in my Mom's house.

Houston,Tx If I could pull off a couple of freelance gigs, I could do it for Thanksgiving. We spend the weekend in Houston at her folks. There is a park down the street that she has been running on since she was a kid. Giant oak trees overlook a little brook that chases across the running trail. If you actually get down into the brook it seems very Texasy. All it needed was a pecan tree. The upside is that I could ask her Father's permission in person. This is just a formality these days, but Dad's really don't get to participate in wedding types things until the bill comes. You only do this once, I wanted to ride all the rides. Downside: Thanksgiving can be stressful for folks, I didn't want to propose when she might be cranky. It rocks your "perfection" bell curve.

Festus, MO About three hours east of St. Louis is a small winetown called Festus. I hadn't been and we were going to a wedding there. I only contemplated this for a minute as I reminded myself that proposing during someone else's wedding is tacky. It's about the couple getting married. Having never been there, I couldn't plan it down to the last detail, I didn't want to surrender the control .

This is a lot of waiting. It would better if we were engaged prior to the wedding, Thanksgiving and Xmas. I was brimming with nervous energy and didn't want to wait. I didn't think I could keep it a secret that long). Also it would better to be engaged for the holidays.

Just about every single guy I know had an unforseen circumstance derail this perfect moment. This is usually caused by the women involved. Flysh had set up champagne and took her to the beach to watch the sunset. "Drinking in PUBLIC?" she cried in her rural Alabama accent "like some white trash girl?" So he put it away, the sun was falling into the ocean. He stopped to drop to one knee and a bohemouth of a fat man with a tiny Chihuahua stepped in the sight line creating a perfect natural eclipse. The Brooklynite went up to him and told him to move his fat ass in the harshest curses of his native land. Lesson learned: CONTROL ALL ELEMENTS

In another case, a friend had convinced his gal to spend a quiet night at home for New Year's Eve. He had his arsenal of candles, champagne and strawberries placed around the house in very secret venues. He scheduled a quiet dinner with a close mutual friend. Around the time the third bottle of wine came around, the friend had her convinced to go to rave on a Sunset. He relented and soon she danced past the metal detector. He waited for her to make it out of eyeshot. He knew he would set off the alarm once and sure enough he did. Carefully he opened his jacket to show he wasn't reaching for a gun. Withdrawing the ring box he displayed it to the guards with the "don't fock" scowl. Holding a shh finger to his lips, he mock proposed to the guard. Mr. Don't Fock waved him in without cracking his facial persona. He managed to get the proposal off right at midnight. Fortunately, he had hidden the champagne where it would still be cold. Lesson: DON'T GO SOMEWHERE WHERE THE ACTIVITY COULD BE EAILY ALTERED.

There was a park where we hike occasionally on holidays. It's a nice little pond in the Hollywood Hills, they used to shoot the Andy Griffith exteriors there. This meant packing a backpack and picnic. I had never done this before so this would look suspicious. I wanted to take her completely by surprise. We go to a lot of Dodger games and fans pay off the Blue Crew to show them on the Kiss Cam. Then a guy proposed. Except for singing "Take me Out To The Ball Game" this is her favorite part. She hates being the center of attention and had already stated that should I decide to propose no JumboTrons would be involved ("It's nice when it happens to other people"). Besides Chavez Ravine is not an attractive place, even at night.

Her sister had bought us all Neil Diamond (her favorite) tickets for the Hollywood Bowl in about month for her birthday. Again, the decision was easy. Starry night, Los Angeles landmark, activity could be easily altered and I could maintain control of the situation. The four of us would go to dinner beforehand and I had a few tricks up my sleeve for rest of the night.

It only created one problem. I wouldn't be able to afford the ring I wanted by then.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Ring Recon

Six months earlier I had decided to explore the diamond market. SHE had been a little PMSy, drinking wine in the afternoon, knitting and watching “Titanic.” I can’t remember how the subject was broached but it we usually have an argument around the time when Kate lets Leo drown. Somehow I had said something or said something similar to the word “wedding” or “marriage.” Breading? Carriage? I dunno, but the response was definite:

“Yeah, so what’s the fucking holdup?”

Oh, SHE felt strongly about this. Well, I wasn’t about to cave to a blind demand but figured I should at least find out how much a ring would put me in the hole. My mom was coming into town on her way to Palm Springs to play golf with old ladies and young gay men. So why not ask a women who had experience in such matters?

Besides Mom’s dig this kinda shit.

I did a little half-assed research. Talked to some married buddies over at the Cat and the Fiddle during a Sunday afternoon over a beer or four. My friends and I don’t talk money much so I would have to be crafty. Also, I didn’t want to seem too obvious about my intentions so I would slip the question between inappropriate, lusty comments about the waitresses.

Check out those Hefewiezens! How much did you pay for your engagement ring?

Full on nipplage at 3:00.Is that more than a carat?

And the all important:

Does the two month salary rule really apply?

Unanimously, the two month salary rule DID apply, plus some. Each of them had paid between $4k and $9k for their rings. My next questions, “Where did you buy it?” The answers were what I expected DeBeers, Robbins Brothers and some mall shop I can’t remember.

I thought of HER, first thing after the day of our wedding. We are still both drunk on the whirlwind of the day before. Stumbling smiles, we make some in-a-bag coffee in the room while wearing those ultra comfy white hotel robes. Rose petals, a wedding dress and a Men's Wearhouse cumberbun are tossed about on the floor. She looks down at her two rings as her new bride tender smile turns into a scowl. “FUCK! I have to pay off half of this now!”

I wasn’t about to have my marriage start off like that. I took my Mom to the wholesale jewelry district downtown.

The Wholesale Jewelry district hasn’t changed a bit since the days of Chandler and Spillaine. It also hasn’t been given a good cleaning since then. If you could shovel out the homeless and the junkies, I’m sure you could still find a Private Dick’s office with 60 years of filing to get through. Odd, because in this four block stretch are millions of dollars of jewels. All you would need is a good sized hammer and a decent exit strategy and you could rip that place off blind.

Similar to Egyptian markets you feel as if life is cheap no matter where you turn, which should be kept in mind when planning an exit strategy. You also get the idea that everything was negotiable. Rock hucksters in rented booths stare back at you, attempting to hypnotize you with their bling.

The first guy we meet is Jerry and he shows me his card which on the back matches the clarity and grade of the diamond. After a while I can spot the differences, yellow diamond bad, clear diamond good. I had also learned in a "Sex And the City" episode that a pear shaped diamond was a definite no go. I didn’t need a “why” if the ladies on "Sex And the City" hated it, so did I and so would her friends and mom. Those were the folks I wanted to impress.

He showed me a few, some of which looked like crap an Armenian Great Grandmother wouldn’t even wear. Then suddenly there it was. .97 Princess cut G grade clarity (which I couldn’t tell from an E or F) placed in a classic white gold band. It looked exactly like the ring on the Luxury Tax space of the Monopoly board. I held it in my hand, didn’t know her size but that was the one I wanted. The rock was about the same size my friends had bought.

I must have tipped my hand. Perhaps my normal chitchatery subsided. My eyes may have glazed over or tear spit out of a duct or something. In a husky indeterminate middle eastern accent he said to me “You see the fire, don’t you?” Yes, I had seen the fire. It was as if a gypsy had placed three wishes on into that ring. Deep inside the ring there was something invisible that only I could see.

The ring retailed for $3600 and was going wholesale for $1300. $100 a month on layaway. No interest. Did I want to wait a year? Another "What is the fucking holdup" year?

Was I really going to buy the first ring I saw? Nada way, so we made our way off to a dizzying amount of vendors. In guy language that means about four. My mother sat their cooing at all the different cuts and shapes. I didn’t see the one with “the fire.” I couldn’t believe that the first ring I saw was the one that I wanted. They were all pretty, but where was the gypsy magic of Jerry's ring?

Here’s the problem. I had done a lot of freelance work the previous year and currently owed Uncle Sam $1700 due in September, none of which I had squirreled away yet. We went back to Jerry and I saw it again. No further deciding needed to be made. Jerry's gypsy magic ring was it.

When she saw how excited I was, Mom teared up a bit. She had one hand placed firmly on her purse in case I asked her for a loan. But I couldn’t take it. I couldn’t let Mom even think about picking up the bill. This was my ring, my decision and the start of my family.

So the ring could wait until next year. This was gonna take some time. I wasn’t ready yet, so I have a few months to figure this all out.

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Decision

I wanted to remember everything perfectly at this one moment. Our local homeless guy was sleeping in this morning on someone’s discarded teal mattress right outside of the security gate. The Santa Ana’s had rained pine needles across the courtyard. My air conditioner was releasing its moisture in syncopated droplets.

She was just inside probably on her second cup on coffee by now, knitting and taking her daily dose of her oh so dreamy Matt Lauer. In distance she was just on the other side of the wall, not even six feet away.

Earlier in the week, the guy who wrote “100 Things to Do Before You Die” died. I hadn’t read the book but I am pretty sure Number 100 wasn’t slip on the rug and knock your head on the coffee table. That haunted me and I spent numerous hours thinking about this guy, without even thinking about reading his book.

I was smoking first thing in the morning outside. I enjoy these quiet moments alone. Just five minutes to my thoughts, several times a day. Today I was thinking big thoughts and she didn’t know it but every stimulated grey cell was about to change her life too.

I always thought that when I would decide to propose, it would be out goofiness. Some over excitable nervous spontaneous energy spewing flowery poetry, perhaps with the guitar I never learned how to play. Then an immediate gunshot drive to Vegas fueled by overwhelming passion. The two of us flying together hand in hand soaring in the desert wind. It didn’t feel that way. I had been thinking about it a little, but not a lot. It felt adult, well thought out It felt solid and tangible, It felt easy. Done and Done. It just popped in my head. I hadn’t agonized for weeks weighing the pros and cons. It was simple, I want to marry this girl.

I stubbed out my cigarette, disguised my smile and walked back inside. She was twittering with a botched knit or pearl, and told me to be quiet until she figured it out. Her fingers bundled up against the needle backwards and forth. Lauer was prattling from the TV set and I notice the French press was nearly empty, almost all grounds. She smiled triumphantly has she figured it out. I could speak again.

Can I get you some more coffee?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

A While Back...

So A While Back…

Why now?

I have asked Lynne to move-in with me twice. One time was while I laid on a gurney in pain. The other was earlier this year.

On both accounts she said, “no.”

I used to have this tiny studio apartment in West Hollywood (just three blocks and three years from meeting Lynne) for $790 a month. One morning, I awoke to a homeless guy in my kitchen. I bolted up from my bed, which was oven-adjacent, clad only in my American Flag boxers and wedged myself between him and the knife block.

Now, I have won some fights and I have lost some fights. Despite the fact that I was looking quite the Superhero that morning, I wasn’t getting into a fight. In my 20’s, I learned a simple rule about fighting, “You can avoid the whole thing if your opponent thinks you are crazier than they are.” Don’t be a bad or smart ass - just be crazy.

So I start speaking in tongues. Not that I have any knowledge about it, I just starred chanting jibberish really passionately and worked in the phrases “Empower Me Satan,” “Forgive Me Jesus,” and the ever popular “With Strength from Isis’

The homeless guy protested, “I just took a shower with the hose in the back”

I responded in my throatiest, eyes in the back of diagaprahm voice “I have no towel service for you!”

Shortly thereafter I decide I was no longer cool enough for Hollywood.

So I move to Studio City to a one bedroom. Only a $100 bucks more a month, with gated parking and a dishwasher! Camelot, right? Safe, right? My landlord got murdered in the first eight months. Then bugs start showing up everywhere. My phones get stolen. The murder and the theft I can deal with, but no one likes buggies.

After a few years of this and meeting Lynne, I want to be closer to her. Sure, in a perfect world I was only 15 minutes away. But God Forbid should there be a good show at the Hollywood Bowl AND Universal City on the same night. Traffic boils over and many times I had to abandon my quest for love on short notice. This is not so popular with the ladies.

I wanted to be back in town. I wanted to be with Lynne all of the time. Easy right? Let’s move in together!!

So six months ago I asked her, again


To her own admission, the Catholics did a good job on her. Eight years of Catholic teachings had made her hesitant. Her sister living with an overly idealistic wannabe screenwriter for ten years had made her cautious.

When I tell people she refused to move in with me. The first question is “Is she really religious? What’s her problem?’

No, she isn’t that religious. She did however have a morale, that was blocking us.

This was the moral she put in front of me. “I have a $680 rent controlled West Hollywood one bedroom a block away from Target. I am not giving that up until we are all (waves her hands in circle motion around her head), until (insert Texan drawl) we are all settled.”

Like the homeless guy who walked into my apartment, I wasn’t ready for this. I had no bullshit parade to put on, I wanted something, I needed something. I had no plan like “act crazy.” I was on the fence and proposing by force wasn’t going to push me.

But I couldn’t argue with $700 a month apartment in West Hollywood a block away from Target. A girl has to have her standards. I love that about her.

So Mr. YOG, just fricking propose already.

I just wasn’t ready. Proposing for me had never been about doing something to make me feel happy. It has been always about making both of us happy. So I didn’t want to jump the gun.

So I got a year lease on a Hollywood one bedroom for $1300 a month.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

I'm In!

So on Tuesday Sept 2 I came into work a little late. I had a lot on my mind.

Now the office is a little cramped for space. One larger than medium sized loft style room to house all 0f the content managers (me and Woody), the tatooed love boy graphic design team, the great unshowered front and back end developers, a technical manager and a guy who I wasn't what quite sure of what he did.

So there isn't much privacy, any kind of personal message spoken aloud becomes an instant bit of office fodder being IM'd from one person to another. I open the desktop and turn on the IM and start typing to Woody.

Woody, my co-conspirator in content management crime and one of my very best friends for the last 13ish years, is already typing away working on something, probably not a work something. She needs a good 20 minutes and a large java to ease in. As usual, her fiery red hair is still drenched from the shower, so I know I am not that late.

She sits about 18 inches away from me. Ye,t I type important words, VERY important words. This is too important to be spoken aloud.

DaveCP: So October 1
Woody: Yeah?
DaveCP: Neil Diamond
DaveCP: Hollywood Bowl
Woody: Nice
DaveCP: Hoping for a clear night..

At this point, I realize something. I need to say it out loud. It's still "just an idea" until you say it out loud. It's just "sumptin ya thinkin' about" until you say it out loud.

I swivel my chair towards her, place my hands in a clasp at my knees assuming the Clinton powerful pose and my best smile Paul Newmans me.

"I am proposing to Lynne."


"Yup, I'm in"

Also aware of her lack of privacy, in her lowest alto, her eyes widen and says in a hushed tone "GETOUT!"

In retrospect, "I'm in" may not sound like the sexiest thing to say. However, you don't need flowery speech when you make the biggest decision you have ever made. "I'm in" means a lot in my rulebook, but I have always thought that loyalty is simple thing; either you are in or you're not. Loyalty is big, because there are so many things that shake it. But it easy "to get." For the most part, you can figure it out in 30 seconds talking to someone. You either get someone or you don't. Let's say it didn't work out after 10 years. Male, Female, Platonic, not so Platonice, whatever, there was something in the first 30 seconds you chose to ignore. In the first 30 seconds, you are in or you are not.

So, by the law of transitivity.. you don't know how hot "I'm in." is. Don' t pretend you know something I don't.

Even in my dwindling 30's, I have seen enough that living with someone the better part of 24/7 can destroy relationships. even those of the roommate variety.

It was odd to tell Woody first. We had tried the dating thing for a while twelve years ago but it just wasn't us. Twelve years ago, I never thought that she would be the first person to know about my pending attempt at nuptials. I also know the she never thought about it once and was equally shocked. We give each other a knowing "huh? whoda thunk?" smirk and shoulder shrug and are immediately back on our keyboards, IMing from 18 inches away.

Woody: "Do you have a ring?"
DaveCP: "Nope."
Woody: "Can you afford a ring?"
DaveCP: "Nope. Not the one I want to give her. You know, that whole three months thing..."
Woody: "That's fucking bullshit myth."
DaveCP "Don't care, I gotta month to figure it out. Want to know what I DO know?"
Woody: "What?"
DaveCP: "I've made up my mind and I can't wait anymore."

I had made this decision just 24 hours earlier, but you have to go back six months to really appreciate it.