Let’s start at the beginning, shall we?
Over the 4th of July weekend, I flew down to Texas to visit my boyfriend. I arrived Friday night and early on Saturday morning, we loaded up his jet skis and headed out to the lake for a day on the water. Like two idiots, we decided sunscreen wasn’t necessary. So when we packed everything back up for the day and headed home again in the afternoon: we were burnt, soaked, and pretty worn out.
That’s why it seemed perfectly normal when he nonchalantly looked over at me in the passenger seat during the ride home and said, “Let’s just go out to eat instead of making dinner tonight. I’m just too tired to cook.”
That was perfectly fine until he added, “I have a place in mind that I know you’ll really like and we’ll probably do outdoor seating, if that’s ok.”
My god. No, that was not ok. Was this man trying to kill me? I looked at his dashboard thermometer gauge and it was a whopping 99 degrees at that moment. In Texas standards that means: a pretty mild day. In my world that means: stay inside, blast the air conditioning, and try not to drown in a pool of your own sweat.
But, I also reminded myself that I knew what I was getting myself into every time I came here. By now, I was prepared to have my makeup slime down my face and go through an entire stick of deodorant on each trip. I hate walking outside and becoming an instant soggy puddle of nastiness. I still haven’t figured out how these people stay alive on a day to day basis. Yet on the other hand, he hates the cold weather and he’s been up to Wisconsin to visit me in the dead of winter many times and never complained once. He even caught pneumonia in February, but didn’t hold that against me. Likewise, he knew what he was getting into. So go with the flow, right? The sweaty, sweaty flow.
“Sure. But I definitely need a shower first and you know how long that takes me to get my hair dry again,” (thanks again in part to the humidity, even inside with the air conditioning cranked on). Believe me, he cranks it to full blast so I don’t spontaneously combust.
He said, “That’s ok. I actually have some chicken I need to cook up when we get home because I think it’s about to go bad if I don’t. So go ahead and shower first and I’ll cook that up. Take your time.”
So as soon as we arrived home, he took out the chicken breasts and started cooking them. I knew they weren’t for me at all (since I had become a vegetarian about 4 months back) so I paid no attention. We were going out to eat, after all (to sit in the baking heat of outdoor seating….ugh!). So I got in the shower so I could at least start the evening looking and smelling somewhat fresh and clean.
I did mention it’s hot in Texas, right? So even while blow drying my hair in his air-conditioned bathroom, I still had to take breaks because the humidity is just thick, everywhere. Multiple times I shut the blow dryer off and went into the kitchen to get an ice cold drink. The first time, he was still stirring the chicken. Then next time, the chicken was done and just sitting on the stove. During my last “blow-dryer drink break”, the kitchen was cleaned up and he was in watching the Wimbledon tennis match on TV. It seemed as though nothing out of the ordinary was about to happen.
After an eternity, I got myself and my hair dried out and was finally ready for dinner in the coolest sundress I had packed. He took his customary five minute shower and was ready to roll.
We walked out to his truck and he opened my door (which he always does - like a southern gentlemen- and I always find to be sweet). We pulled out of the driveway and started out of his neighborhood in an entirely different direction than we’d ever gone before.
“Do you think we should have made reservations?” I asked. It was Saturday night after all.
“Nah, they’re usually not too busy. Actually we’ll be going past where I lived when I was younger, so I’ll take you by the street where I grew up.”
This impromptu tour-guiding happens nearly every time we go somewhere. Houston is big. Really, REALLY big. So there’s usually always something to see that I didn’t see on my previous trips. Seriously though, come on- where you grew up as a kid? Of course, we should drive by!
So again, nothing seemed out of the ordinary.
Not even when we pulled into an industrial park area which was pretty much shut down for business for the holiday weekend.
“We have to stop here right quick, too. This is my favorite place in the city. Except, it wasn’t like this at all when I was younger. This tiny duck pond was actually huge but since then they put a road through the middle of it, splitting it into two separate ponds and then built all these buildings up around it. None of this was here back then and I’d come here all the time.” I loved it already. I’m overly sentimental like that. Then I saw the ducks.
He knows I love animals. I really love them. I love them usually more than I like most people. So when he suggested getting out and taking a closer look at the ducks and the fish, I gave no second thought to the fact that we were probably trespassing on private property. We squeezed through the gate and stood at the water’s edge and saw the biggest catfish swimming along the bottom. The ducks kept their safe distance from us and I remember saying, “I wish we had some bread to feed them.”
He’s usually full of nonsense so I paid no attention when he turned to go back to the truck, saying, “Oh, I have some bread in the truck. Let me grab it, right quick.”
(“Right quick” is a Texas thing, I guess. It makes me chuckle each time he says it….which is quite often.)
I didn’t even turn around. I was watching the fish and as luck would have it, starting to notice that the humidity had tapered off a bit. There was actually a nice breeze blowing and so I turned around to tell him that sitting outside tonight wasn’t going to be as awful as I had thought.
And here he comes carrying a blanket, cooler, and canvas tote. I was not expecting that at all. AT ALL.
“What are you doing?” I asked (really confused at this point).
“I thought you wanted some bread,” he said (like this was perfectly normal to whip out blankets and coolers randomly from somewhere in your vehicle).
I laughed and probably looked at him like he was crazy because at this point, he was. Where did all this stuff come from? I didn’t see any of it when we got into the truck. When did he have time to pack it without me knowing anything was going on? Apparently he had it all stuffed securely behind the passenger seat in the extended cab, covered discreetly with the blanket.
As he spread the blanket onto the grass, I was still confused but I sat down. Then he opened up the cooler and took out our favorite wine and two wine glasses. Then he began unpacking the canvas tote and removing dinner plates, forks, and containers.
“Wait, what are you doing? I thought we were going out to eat?”
“We are," he smiled. Then he reached in and opened up a container of my favorite thing in the whole world. “I mean, we still can if you don’t want this.” He tipped the container my way and I saw what was inside.
Oh my god. What he held in that square Tupperware container beats any restaurant in Houston. Quite frankly, it beats any restaurant in the entire country.
The first time I came down to visit him, he made Chicken Marsala pasta for me. He told me he didn’t cook but it was the only thing he knew how to make. And it was TO DIE FOR!!! I can’t even describe how delicious it tasted. But that was before I became a vegetarian. I also knew that making the sauce was not a quick little deal. It literally takes half the day to thicken and brown and create the perfect concoction of awesomeness. So when he pulled out that piping hot container of Chickenless Marsala sauce, I was stunned. That’s why he made the chicken when we got home (which he had packaged in a separate container)! But when did he make the sauce?
So I blurted that right out. “When did you make this?”
“While you were in the shower.” Total B.S. First of all, my showers are long. But they are nowhere near long enough for that kind of cooking. Also, the mouth-watering aroma would have wafted throughout the entire house. So it had to be made prior to my arrival.
“No, you didn’t.”
“Oh, I must have made it while you were sleeping last night,” he teased.
“No, you didn’t.” I was dead tired when I went to bed the previous evening but one whiff of that sauce and I would have been right back out of bed. Clearly, he had it made up prior to my arrival but how did I miss it in the fridge? More than that, when did he even heat it up? Again, I would have smelled it. And since he knows I’m trying to eat healthier all the way around, he made brown rice instead of pasta noodles. But when did he make the rice? And how was it still hot?
This is why when he pulled out the ring and asked me the four most nerve-wracking words a guy utters in his lifetime, I didn’t really even hear what he was saying.
“Will you marry me” got a little lost in my brain that was in full detective mode.
So I blurt out, “No, wait a minute. This rice is still hot and it’s still fluffy.”
This man just asked me to marry him and I’m concerned about the rice. The freaking rice. Oh, it gets worse. I continued with, “When did you cook this? Wait, is that cake, too?”
He laughed. Thank god. Things could have gone really bad at that moment. But he knew I wasn’t paying a bit of attention to the box he was holding. Like usual. All I was concerned about was really trying to figure out how all this non-picnic food was heated, stored and kept hot this entire time, and loaded up without me knowing a thing was out of the ordinary.
“Um,” he tried again. “Please?”
It was at that moment that I stopped thinking about rice and sauce and how this was still as hot as you’d get straight off the stovetop that I looked down and saw the ring.
“Please? Will. You. Marry. Me.”
Holy crap. Things started coming back into focus.
“Well, I mean, yes. But how did you do all this?” I really do find ways to ruin the most romantic situations. It’s not like I do it purposely. It just happens. I was in disbelief that he did all this and I had no idea. I’m not easy to surprise. I ask way too many questions all the time and I literally knew (or thought I knew) that he was in the house the entire time I was getting ready. Every time I took my randomly timed BDDBs (Blow Dryer Drink Breaks), he was there like nothing out of the norm. He never acted nervous or weird the entire day (and that’s not like him either if he has something big to do….like, oh I don’t know…. ask me to marry him).
I was really completely surprised. I really didn’t think anything like that was happening that night. Hence, why my nails weren’t painted. Everyone knows I always have them painted so had I known this was happening, I would have taken 5 more minutes to polish them up before we left the house to “go out to eat”.
So, that’s how it happened. Among ducks and fish and with chicken on the side and naked nails, I accidentally turned him down. This seems to be how our relationship has been all along actually. He waits on me a lot and I tend to ruin his most romantic gestures. At least he knows by now that sometimes, it just takes me awhile: to get ready, to want to be in a relationship, and (obviously) to get married. In fact, it took me awhile to even say yes to being his girlfriend in the beginning. But good things come to those who wait, right? That’s what I tell him and he laughs.
Speaking of which, I know I’ve kept you all waiting far too long with the story about how we actually got together in the first place. We met in an airport and it really is one of my favorite stories to tell. Not because it’s a wonderful fairy tale, love at first site, “all things worked out perfectly” kinda story. Nope, I’ve been a pain in his arse from the beginning. In fact, the day I met him I had absolutely no idea that I’d be engaged to him today. He said he knew as soon as he saw me walk past him at the Delta gate. But as usual, I was paying no attention. In fact, after talking with him for a few minutes, I was hoping things would work out for him with another girl he was going to visit. But sometimes things work out the way they should. From that moment on, he never really stopped trying. So to have to ask a few times for me to marry him seems like it fits in “our story” just perfectly.
Stay tuned to find out how “Karl from Florida” from “Drunk On A Plane” turned out to be Keith, my fiancé. I think it’ll be one of your favorite stories, too.