Sunday, March 25, 2007

A really long and engaging entry

Yeah. I got engaged on Saturday - to my lovely girlfriend Mariella.

The whole process is a long story and I'm growing weary of telling it. So here it is:

Mariella and I went shopping for rings a while back. Must've been February. I surprised her and we went to Parmatown Mall. Most of the jewelry guys at the mall stores were D-bags. Everything was very expensive and pretty much every store had the same stuff. And actually the guy at JB Robinson's was rather refreshing. He didn't try to upsell us and just answered a bunch of questions we had. He actually steered us away from the more expensive platinum option. He even wrote Mariella's style preferences and ring size on the back of a business card. Which I promptly lost (this comes into play later.)

On March 10, I went to the Jewelry Factory in N. Randall. They have these ANNOYING TV commercials that shows the entire staff awkwardly waving at the camera at the end. Their prices are much more reasonable than the mall stores. I must've sent the sales guy back to the vault about 15 times to get different diamonds. I was looking for pretty darn close to perfect. I found a diamond I liked and picked out the band that Mariella had liked - white gold cathedral flat. (I remembered that part.) I wasn't sure of her size. I thought it was 6.5 but wasn't sure. So I called Mariella feigning that I had been talking to my sister Mary about ring sizes and Mary said that she was a 6.5. I allegedly told Mary that was impossible b/c her hands are much bigger than Mariella's, right? Mariella confirmed that was in fact her ring size so I was set. The guy was ringing me up and the manager (I think) came over and looked at what he was doing and said that the price on the band was wrong. That was the old price from the old book and the actual price was $21 dollars more. The salesguy apologized and explained was using the old book. They asked what I wanted to do, "I said I'm not happy about this but what choice do I have?" The "manager" took $9 dollars off my bill splitting the difference. ARE YOU SERIOUS?! I'm dropping several thousand dollars on this purchase and you're going to dick me on twenty bucks?! What the hell. But the diamond was one of the best I'd seen and seemed to be reasonably priced so, I bit the bullet and my tongue.

So I got the ring several days later and didn't really look at the band in the store. I was more interested in the rock. Upon further inspection, I noticed a mark on the band, so I took it back and they fixed it.

Mariella's birthday is March 15. I didn't want to do it on her birthday. That's too cliche. My birthday is April 2. Didn't want to do it then either. So I decided to do it on April 1 - April Fool's Day. I even went to Claire's and got a BIG fake ring. I was going to ham it up with that one and then give her the real one.

So on March 15 we went to her mom's for Mariella's birthday dinner. The girls at her work were telling her that they were sure she was getting a ring for her birthday. She wasn't. She correctly told them so. Her little cousin gave her a card that read, "You're old enough to get married. So you should marry Mark." Little did they know that I had the ring at home. I also beat her to her parents' house. So I was hanging out with them before she got there (that comes into play later too)

Mom knew I'd bought the ring. I called to tell Kevin to talk about his experience buying rings too. I told a few people at work. If dad were here, he'd probably have been the only one that I'd have told. But I don't have him physically here as a confidant so I had to confide in others. Well, word spread. I'm fairly certain the majority of my agency knows as does half of AAF-Cleveland. In fact, I was at a luncheon when someone came up to me and said, "I heard what's happening April 1st." It's not as though Mariella has a whole lot of interaction with any of those people except we're having a party for me next Friday, March 30th in honor of my thirtieth. And alcohol loosens lips and loose lips sink ships and ruin my best laid plans. So we had to accelerate my timeline.

Plus, Mariella kept looking at rings in nearly every store we went to. (I told her that she could pick the most expensive ring at walmart.) She and her mother were saving pictures and ads of rings for me. And Mariella found the card with all the ring information on it. She gave it to me a little upset saying that she was glad I was taking this so seriously. I egged her on a bit by overacting, saying I was SO GLAD she found that. Which made her mad. She didn't know I had the ring all along. But it was good to see that I remembered the right style.

On Wednesday, I contacted her brother Vince via email. I needed him to set up a meeting with her Sicilian father - a mandatory step if I ever expected to attend any family events. I really like her father. We're on good terms but by her family's standards I don't talk that much and I've never called their house or stopped over without her. So it would be out of the ordinary if I just show up out of the blue. And her mom has a bit of a hard time keeping secrets. So she couldn't know b/c then her aunt would know and her cousins would know and it was a very realistic possibility that Mariella would her of the engagement from someone besides me. So Vince played a critical role. We brainstormed a few ideas. Dad didn't go anywhere without mom or without her knowing where he was. We determined that it should go down on Saturday. Vince was going to find someway to get his dad to a restaurant where I would meet them for breakfast. I left my house on schedule when I got a call from Vince who went out the night before and overslept. He was heading to his parents and would meet me there. So, I get to the restaurant and Vince texts me "Mark...don't kill me...i got home and they have people sorry i got up so late...but i think they planned this already...ill help u do watever we have to to make sure you get him alone." Who has guests on Saturday at 10 in the morning?! At this point, I'm like "screw it. I'm nearby. I'm going over there." I told Vince to let them know that I'm coming. He apparently didn't realize that I was so close b/c I walked in to hear him say "Mark's said he might stop by." His dad was outside with a friend grafting a cherry tree. So I went in to talk to Vince. I had an alibi in that I had some posters I got from the office when we were cleaning out a drawer. They were some posters from the 80s that we did for an eyeglass client - hilarious, especially the "sport" shades. Mom was in the kitchen with one of her foreign friends. I said I was in the neighborhood so I brought these by for Vince. Her friend commented on how nice they were - not understanding the humor. Her mom offered me cookies and coffee but I said I had to get to cornhole. I went outside to do the deed following Vince. I tripped on the garage door frame - which I've done before Vince chalked it up to nerves. I wasn't nervous - yet. We made small talk with Dad and his friend. The conversation is punctuated by bits of Italian which is fairly common and I typically think that they are just talking about me. Dad's friend went to put something in his car, so I seized the moment and that's when I got nervous. I said something like "Mr. S, I'm going to ask Mariella to marry me and I'd like to ask your permission first." I showed him the ring and he shook my hand and said something like (it helps if you do it with a thick Italian accent) "Mark you know my daughter (pause) and you are old enough that I hope you make the right decisions. You have my permission." Phew. So we made some more idle small talk with his friend who returned from the car. I had to get to cornhole. So I left. When I was driving away, I started thinking about what he said, so I texted Vince to confirm: You're old enough. I hope you're making the right decision. Vince confirmed but assures me that's not exactly what he meant. So regardless it was on.

I had volunteered to help at the Cleveland Cornhole Championships before any of these plans were made. So I went there did my stuff and left - I'll try to post about the event b/c it was rather interesting.

I went to Mariella's house. She had to work in the morning and went to the store afterwards, so I beat her to her house. She came in and I told her that she had to help me with my physical therapy (I hurt my back in February. And started PT on Thursday. Mariella's a PT but she claims, probably correctly, that I wouldn't listen to her directions, so I had to go to someone else.) My therapist had given me sheets with illustrations of the exercises to do and actually recommended that Mariella help me apply overpressure. So I started showing her what exercises I had to do - hamming it up quite a bit. She got mad and said that if I'm not going to do them correctly I shouldn't do them at all because they wouldn't help anything. I assured her I'd try. I showed her the back extensions I had to do on the floor. She said that was better. I said that there's this one I'm not really sure how to do at all. And I got on the floor on my knees and arched my back and stuck one leg out behind me. I said I don't think I'm doing this right. I asked her to look at the sheet (which I had my friend Paul doctor) to and see. She was mad at this point. She didn't immediately see the bit we edited. I got down on one knee got out the ring and asked the question. She said yes. And I'm extremely happy.

Love you, baby.

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