Doing It All Over
10-20-2012, 11:43 AM
RE: Doing It All Over
He poured a dab of the champagne in my glass and then stood by, waiting for me to complete the ritual of tasting it. Where did this ritual start anyway? Had anyone ever tasted the wine or whatever and then said, "This swill tastes like shit. Take it away"? I was sure that somewhere, someone had done that. I picked up the glass, actually quite curious as to how Dom Perignon would taste since I'd never had it before. To my disappointment it tasted only slightly better than Brut, which sold for two bucks a bottle. Oh well, the champagne wasn't there to taste good. I nodded my approval of it and he picked up my glass to pour it full.
After setting my glass of bubbling champagne down he picked up Nina's. He had obviously done such a thing before. He was so smooth about it that even I didn't see him slip the ring into the glass before he poured. For a moment I actually thought he was ripping me off, that he'd look puzzled when I asked him where the ring was. Ring? What ring? You didn't give me a ring. But when he set the glass down before her, there it was, sitting on the bottom, little bubbles clinging to the gold band and the diamond. Nina didn't notice it.
The waiter put the bottle into an ice bucket and then beat a hasty retreat, giving me a "good luck" look as he went. Nina grabbed her glass, holding it by the stem, her thumb and forefinger hiding the ring from her view. Perfect.
"Shouldn't we toast?" she asked me, gazing at my face. "That's what you're supposed to do with this, right?"
"By all means," I said, picking up my own glass. I gazed back at her, knowing the moment of truth had come, knowing it was too late to back out. "To a long life together," I said, "filled with love and understanding."
She smiled. "That's sweet, Bill," she said. We clinked our glasses.
She put hers to her lips preparing to sip out of it. Her eyes widened as she got a look at what was sitting on the bottom of the glass. She stopped, just staring, the glass hovering against her face.
"Bill," she said slowly, without moving, "there's a ring in my glass."
"What do you know about that?" I said softly. "It kind of looks like an engagement ring, doesn't it?"
She finally lowered the glass, her face suddenly nervous, her eyes searching mine. "Did... did you put that in there?"
"Not personally," I told her. "But I arranged for it." I leaned forward. "Will you marry me, Nina?"
Her mouth dropped open in surprise. She looked from my face to the ring to my face again. She started to say something and then stopped. Her hands began to tremble, making the champagne bubble more, obscuring the ring. The tension in the air was very thick, at least from my vantage point. I momentarily lost track of time. How long did she sit there, not speaking, not answering, leaving me hanging? How long? A minute? Thirty seconds? An hour? Would she say yes? Would she throw the glass of liquid at my face and tell me I was some kind of madman if I thought she would marry me? Would she say she'd love to but that we were too young?
"Nina?" I finally spoke, breaking the silence. Had she even heard my question?
"You're asking me to marry you?" she asked breathlessly. "You're really asking me that? This ring is really for me?"
"Yes, Nina," I said, "to everything. I want you to be my wife. I've asked your father and he's given me both permission and blessing. But all of that's meaningless without you. So now I'm asking you formally. Will you marry me? Will you be my wife?"
"You asked my father?" she asked.
Christ, she was killing me with anticipation. Couldn't we talk about her father after she said yes or no? "Yes, Nina," I told her. "When we went fishing. I also talked to your mother tonight."
"Mom and Dad know where we went, what you were going to do?"
"They do," I said. "So does Ron for that matter." I took a deep breath. "Now I don't want to rush you or anything and if you're not sure right now just tell me, but..."
"Oh God, Bill," she said, her face breaking out into a huge, happy smile, "what do you mean 'if I'm not sure right now'? Of course I'm sure. Of course I'll marry you. Do you know how many times I've fantasized about this day? How many times I've lain awake wondering if you were ever going to ask? How you would ask if you did?"
"So that's a yes then?" I said, pretty sure it was, but wanting to confirm it.
"Of course it's a yes!" she said, leaning forward and kissing my lips, my nose, my cheek. Tears were now running from her eyes. "Do you have any idea of how happy you've just made me?"
A great sense of relief flooded me at her words, at her actions. At the tables around us I could see that some of the other diners had gleamed what was going on and most were giving us looks of happy approval. "About as happy as you've made me," I told her.
We broke apart and she looked in her glass again, eyeing the ring. "How do I get this thing out of there?" she wanted to know.
"The only way to do it without violating etiquette is to drink the champagne down and then reach in."
"Oh yeah?" she asked, the twinkle in her eye becoming mischievous.
With a smile she put the glass to her lips and upended it. The champagne poured into her mouth and was swallowed in less than two seconds. Her eyes began to water profusely from the effects of the carbonation but she reached in and pulled out the ring. She held it triumphantly before her.
"Would you like to put it on me?" she asked, handing it across.
I took it and she offered me her left hand. I slid the damp ring onto her third finger, seating it in place. The fit wasn't perfect, it would have to be sized when we got back to Spokane, but it looked at home there.
We drank the rest of the bottle of champagne, sipping at it while we discussed what we'd just agreed to do. Now that the question was out and answered favorably I became almost giddy, feeling elation like I'd never felt before. She was going to marry me! Nina too was blushing and giggly. Part of that was the wine and the champagne we'd consumed, but a good part of it was simple happiness and excitement.
The waiter came by once to offer coffee or desert. We declined. He also offered his congratulations to us as he spied the ring on Nina's finger.
"I promised your mom that we wouldn't elope," I told her. "She wants to plan your wedding, help you with the guest list, all that crap. She's very adamant about it." And of course I knew why. My first talk with Jack Blackmore had made that clear.
"But when?" she wanted to know. "When can we do it?" She giggled a little. "Get married that is."
"I'm not much for long engagements," I told her. "If it was up to me, we'd be man and wife before we climbed back in that airplane with Ron. But under the circumstances, we're kinda stuck by the fact that we're going off to college next month. Also, I'm still seventeen until February. That creates additional paperwork."
She pouted a little. "So when?" she asked.
"Next June," I told her. "Near the end of the month. That lets us be home from college for the summer long enough to get back into the swing of things, go to all the rehearsals, and all of that. How does that sound?"
"It sounds like a plan."
I paid the bill and left a generous tip for the waiter. We walked arm and arm back to the elevator and, when it arrived, found ourselves alone in it. As it began plunging downward we shared a kiss, a very deep kiss that involved a brief dance of tongues. When our lips parted she looked into my eyes.
"You know what would make this night absolutely perfect?" she asked.
"Making love," she answered.
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