Despite my current status as “crusty pelican”*, i can’t say i’ve always been incapable of normal girl dreams. Those pesky Disney Delusions run deep. For me? It was Cinderella. The Rogers and Hammerstein version – starring Lesley Ann Warren and a cast of unmemorable rabble**.
Despite being a fat and dumpy special kid, i identified with her – the youngest, treated like pond scum by her family. Now, we didn’t have a fireplace, and god knows they’d never let me in the kitchen to cook. More along the ‘teasing’ route, for being fat and dumpy. Hoping that there would be some bit of magic in my future that would transform me from ‘troll’ to ‘treasure’. Singing along to the album – “In my own little corner, in my own little chair, I can be whatever I want to be…” Even then, what i really wanted to be was “adopted”.
Looking back on life? Not exactly how it all went down. Let’s take a look at my marriage proposals, shall we? There have been two.
The first was when i just turned 19, starting my sophomore year in college. I’d been seeing TJH for about two years – one of several guys i “hung out” with. TJH was perhaps the most special – well, i seemed to shed more tears on his behalf, so that means he was “Number One”. Two years older, he’d enlisted in the Army and had already been through basic training and was moving up through the enlisted progression that year.
Apparently overcome by a cresting wave of romantic intoxication, he popped the question: “If I get married, I get an increase in my ‘basic housing allowance’. We could get married, and then I’d split it with you. We’d still be able to go out with other people, though…”. The most surprising part of this story? i thought about it for a couple weeks before saying “ummm…. i don’t think so…”. i was worried that it would screw up my educational plans….
In hindsight? My life might have followed a slightly different path. If he’d sprung it on me at a different point in the ol’ PMS cycle? Or if he hadn’t just started screwing one of my former roommates? It’s within the realm of the plausible that i could have spent the last 30 years living in a trailer, near Ft. Campbell, Kentucky. In classic “Vagina as Clown Car” style, i’d have probably dropped a bunch of little critters along the way…
The second proposal is the one i accepted. At the advanced age of 21. i’d been living with my now ex-husband, EJR, since i was 19***, and spent my 21st birthday dealing with an early miscarriage. Oops. A bit unexpected, for sure, but at only about 7-8 weeks, it wasn’t physically difficult. Once he was sure i was ok, he said “Guess we ought to think about getting married in case that happens again…”.
Hard to argue with that sort of logic.
We were seriously committed to each other by then – having purchased major appliances. When his family would visit, we’d gather both sets of parents for a pleasant, but uncomfortable, dinner. His parents spent the entire time apologizing to my parents because he wouldn’t make me an ‘honest woman’. My parents sort of shrugged it off, mostly amazed that i had a steady man – with all of his teeth – in my life****.
After a particularly awkward parental visit, i gently suggested to EJR that perhaps his parents would chill out a little if i at least had an engagement ring. He agreed, but we were poor students, so we didn’t have a lot of cash to burn. A friend of mine came to the rescue. Her dad “dealt” in gemstones, and she was pretty sure he could find me something cheap.
i went to visit her when her dad was in town. He was staying in his camping trailer in her side yard. i picked out a cute 1/4 carat diamond, mounted in gold, for $225.00 – cut the check myself. It was beautiful. At least to me.
Whew. That will appease the parents. Problem solved…
The Dirty Disney Secret: i wanted it. i wanted something. Not romance, not being swept off my feet, not being courted and cajoled. Just a fucking ring. Taking summer classes, i’ll never forget how good it felt to flash that thing during my Thermodynamics class. “See, guys? i’m not totally defective! SOMEONE WANTS ME!”
Well, at least for a little while…
* a moniker recently bestowed by my drinking buddy, Pickles. it will also be the name of my waterfront bar when i retire…
** i was a kid. i didn’t know that Ginger Rogers played the Queen, Walter Pidgeon portrayed the King and Celeste Holm was the magical fairy godmother… i just thought Lesley Ann Warren was the shit…
*** Shortly after the failed marriage proposal, i split with TJH. Met my now ex-husband in the laser test cells at work – geek love at its finest – and moved in with him after dating for a week. He was 26, working full time and taking grad school classes at night. Impulsive little thing, wasn’t i?
**** As far as my folks knew, i never dated until i met TJH. And Mom loved him, because he had a pretty smile and was polite. Dad tagged him as a shitheel, but didn’t say anything until after we split.