Friday, March 28, 2008

Advice Column #19

Hey Bartender!

We've been together for seven years, and I know I want to marry my girlfriend. What's more, I know she's waiting for me to ask. I bought a ring about a month ago. I just can't figure out how to ask her. I mean, there's tons of cliche's that I'm sure she'd be happy with, but I really do want it to be special. I want her to be able to brag about her engagement, especially since most of our friends are already married or engaged. I just can't come up with anything. Help! My brain is an empty glass.


You need to revisit the fundamentals of love. Whenever you do enter a new chapter of your romance, you need to create an excitement about how you are loving each other. When you fell in love seven years ago, your love was fresh and dynamic. You were amazed by her, and she by you. Every morning was a bit magical and every moment with her was romance. Obviously, after years, life settles back in. Now there's no moment to ask her to marry you. It's not on the grocery list or the television line up or at the brunch spot you go to every Sunday.

At this point, most people fall back on safe ideas to break that routine. They go on vacation and come back engaged. They go to a fancy restaurant and by dessert they're engaged. There are aspects of these cliche's that can be useful: you want a sense of adventure and a sense of luxury. But adventure and elegance are not enough to rise above the norm; you need to add a sense of wonderment and magic to be overwhelmingly amazed and delighted.

How do you create a sense of wonder? You don't. She already has a sense of wonder, you just have to draw it out. Here's where I can give you no answers. Sorry. You know her better than I do, and you need to figure out what she dreams about. And then you need to make it happen. Not the big things, but the precious dreams.

Maybe she talks about sailboats and deep sea adventures. Instead of taking her on a boring yacht cruise, get a model building kit of the most complicated boat you can find. Spend a day with her building it, laughing, with glue all over your fingers. Ask her to marry you before you go on the island vacation. The mismatched, sort of looks like a boat sculpture will be on your mantel forever, symbolizing the joy you construct in each other.

Maybe she reads too much science fiction and is a big nerd. Make her a scavenger hunt based on science facts that leads her to all the places you both love and let it end at the planetarium, where you two watch a program on space, and ask her before the astronaut ice cream.

Maybe she wanted to be a ballerina. You could get those fancy dance slippers (tu-tu optional), and make a dance interpreting your love for her. The sillier the better, lots of leaps. She'll be laughing until she cries, but she'll adore you. Perhaps you could take a couple's dancing class afterwards, to prepare for the big day.

The best engagement stories aren't the most expensive or the most outrageous, but the most personal. You don't want to marry an idea, and you don't just want a wife-- you want her. So yes, figure out how to make her feel amazed, like she was when she was a little girl and first went to the aquarium and stared at the huge mysterious fish behind the glass. Make her heart flutter. Break your routine without using a fall-back plan. No matter what you do, don't put that ring into any drink. You'll have nightmares about administering the Heimlich maneuver. At best, you'll have submerged the most expensive thing you own into sticky liquid. Don't do that.

That's your homework. Remember: sense of wonderment, personal. Try to make her laugh. Be excited about her, let yourself fall in love with her all over again.

As for that empty glass, I really want to fill it with booze, with thinking juice. But to be helpful, I'd suggest that you take her out for a brain storming session. Order her a white lady (gin, cointreau, lemon juice), and ask her about dreams she had as a little kid. Figure out all the personal stuff that I can't tell you. Flirt with her a little, it'll be fun. I have faith in you. If you lasted seven years, and possibly for ever more, you can figure out how to make it magical. She's got all the answers. I'm just the bartender.

1 comment:

Kelly said...

It's good to read your words again-- I love the sweet tooth you've got going on.