For your delight today. The three times I have proposed to a woman. Put the kettle on, pull up a chair and settle down for the freak show…
An evening in 1988
I was 15 years of age, but due to good genes and the late arrival of acne looked about 10. I was living in Pudsey (where the bear comes from) and had only recently taken receipt of some pubic hair. I was very relived not to have bald privates any more and now only had my soprano speaking voice to deal with.
Off on a tanget….
I once called a Vauxhall dealership for my much older friend Paul, who was too shy to talk on the phone. The conversation was going very well, as I enquired about the cost of replacing the front wing of a Chevette, until the grease monkey on the other end said ‘if you get your husband to call me when he gets in, I should have a price by then‘. Paul, with his impressive bat like hearing, proceeded to roll around on the floor in hysterics while I had to finished the conversation pretending to be a middle-aged woman called Christine.
This incident may be why I do not like answering the phone.
Back on tanget…..
Due to life circumstances not worthy of mention, at the age of 15, I had acquired a way of being that one would nowadays refer to as a ‘dick’. At the time this was not the case; I was the bees knees. But attitudes change. It was how I was doing things back then. It was the 80’s yo. Frankie said relax. I was a dick. Let’s move on.
I hadn’t prepared for my proposal as such. I’d dyed my hair black several days previously, to look more like Elvis (Presley not Costello) but that was a happy co-inky-dink. Nothing to do with inappropriately asking a 17 year old girl to marry me. I just wanted to look more like Elvis. Still do.
Off on a tanget……
Back in the 80’s in Pudsey, it was remarkable how happy total strangers were to point at a teenager in the street and mock him for his badly dyed jet-black hair. Philistines. Feelings hadn’t been invented back then in Yorkshire; open mockery and a dead arm were par for the course. Now, if I were to see a boy with preposterous hair, I may chuckle to myself and give Wifey a nudge, but I wouldn’t shout across the road from outside Woolworths that he looked like a gay Count Dracula.
I may have started the Goth movement, I’m not sure?
In fairness, even my family hated my hair. My mother, who had actually done the dyeing, was kinder in her response, but was notably surprised at just how black ‘black’ was. My father was less tactful in his assessment of my barnet, as is the manner of Northern men of his generation. I obviously stirred something deep inside him though, as years later he dyed his hair every colour under the sun, in an attempt to disguise his grey hair. But I didn’t mock him…to his face. At least I could blame youthful stupidity.
Anyhoo, vis-a-vis the proposal. I hadn’t planned to propose, so there was no ring. No romance. No clue. I just did it. You know. Like how you do things after three cans of medium strength lager and a Pernod and black. I was winging it. Living the vida loca.
In fairness, I am not sure it actually constitutes a proposal as such. I didn’t pop the question, rather I slurred it. After slurring it the first time and being instantaneously rejected I slurrred it again. And again. And again. I just kept on slurring yo. First with some pleading. And then some fury. And finally some puke. Word.
Irrespective of upping the anti by upping my dinner, Deborah was resolute in her decision to not marry me. Seemed she wanted to eat some toast and go to bed; not promise to spend her life tied to a 15 year old nobhead with a quiff blacker than night.
The following day I apologised and we put it all behind us. Phew. Until she dumped me for being insane. Arse. I went home and made my mother dye my hair with a variety of blondes and browns before I was forced into a crew cut from the local barber called ‘Blackie’ who laughed at my red raw scalp.
Again in a fabulous twist of irony, Blackie was the person that dyed my father’s hair many, many, many times to resemble, it would seem, an evil rainbow. He was the local ‘hairdresser’, specialising in ‘short’. He was bald. My tip for the day, never trust a bald hairdresser; questionable motives.
Proposal number one. I was young, foolish and had no clue. Proposal number two…..
Christmas morning 1991/2
I can’t remember the year exactly but I was around 18 and had dyed my hair black again. Well not black, dark brown. I’d opted for dark brown because the father of the girl I was about to propose to had told me that was the way to do it, for it to not look dyed. He should know after all, how to dye your hair to look like Elvis, because he was an Elvis impersonator and had dyed his hair to look like Elvis. So that’s not weird AT ALL.
Turns out dark brown hair dye on my hair comes out AS BLACK AS NIGHT. But this time I had decided I would push through the abuse. Keep my head down (literally) and weather the storm, until everyone had forgotten that my hair was dyed and just thought I was very, very pale and looked a bit like Elvis. Seemed like a fine plan.
Three weeks later I was sitting in Blackie’s chair being shaved whilst he enquired politely when I was going to grow up? Little did he know….
Proposal number two yo.
This time I was prepared. I had thought about it and everything. I had a ring that I’d purchased from that well know purveyor of engagement rings – Argos – and had spent all of the previous night, Christmas Eve, thinking how I would pop the question. What words would I employ to adequately muster the correct sentiment? This was the beginning of the rest of my life. I was aiming for tears of joy….
When my big moment finally arrived the next morning, I ended up proposing with a blinding headache and halitosis. So there may well have been tears in her eyes, but they were probably as a result of potent lager breath. St Nick also bought me a bout of unannounced diarrhoea. MERRY CHRISTMAS. I say ‘unannounced’, because as I sat in her parents living room just moments later, looking at the ring and discussing the future, I poo’d myself. SUPER.
It is testament to my poker face, that as I chatted merrily with Elvis about bottom drawers, he did not know that I was internally thanking Bejesus that his couch, that I was currently using as a commode, still had it’s plastic cover on. As was the way in the North. In certain homes. It is with a tear in mine eye and a lump in my throat, that I clearly recall having to wear a stolen pair of Elvis’s Y-fronts on Christmas Day whilst dumping a pair of my boxers in the bin at the end of the road, as I walked Elsie the dog.
It was all worth it in the end though because but a few months later, I was living in a terraced house in Yeadon with a woman I COULD NOT STAND. To survive life, I’d worked out I needed to keep busy. I needed to think of a way to pass the time between living a sham and my eventual death. A hobby if you will. I decided upon eating everything in my eye-line. EVERYTHING. This in retrospect was not the best strategy, as when I finally mustered the man-berries to end it all and go running back to my mummy, I was an impressive 16 and a half stone. To put that in perspective, I now weigh about 10 and a half stone.
Ironically, I did now look like Elvis, but not sexy Elvis with a black quiff and a lip curl. No. I looked like fatty-bum-bum Elvis who snuffed it doing a big poo on the loo. Careful what you wish for people.
And as I waddled off to the freedom of my Mum’s house, I’d broken a heart but saved my life. I WAS NEVER GOING TO PROPOSE TO ANYONE AGAIN….
An evening in a mediocre Chinese Restaurant with only one other couple in.
SO prepared for success was I this time, that I’d been into the award winning restaurant the week before to alert them of my intentions. As I explained my plan of action to a random Chinese man, I remember feeling quietly aggrieved that he didn’t appear to give a toss. As I selected the table in the corner that I wanted to be seated at, he just shrugged in apathy. He wasn’t taking notes or anything? This may have been my third time, but he didn’t know that. I meant it this time yo. Show some respeck innit.
As I walked in to the very same restaurant just a week later, with Soon-to-be-wifey on my arm, I was shocked at just how quiet it was. Blimey it was quiet. Looking around, there was me and Pre-wifey and…….1,2,3,4,5,6,7 Chinese people dressed like waiters, all standing around the walls, like mannequins. They were probably waiters. Or perverts? But they were not customers. There were no customers. Uh-bloody-oh.
As a person I’d never seen before (!) tried to direct me to a table in the centre of the restaurant, I walked in completely the opposite direction and sat squarely down at the table in the corner. The table I had previously selected with a man who was not there. The one behind the rubber plant. The waiter looked confused. Really-nearly-wifey didn’t bat an eye-lid, she was used to me ignoring social niceties by now, she knew I was weird and didn’t care. This is one of the reasons why I wanted to marry her.
As we ordered our meal, I was very aware of just how loud our voices were. I was starting to panic. Maybe I should put it off and propose at home? Maybe I could mime my proposal? Write it on a napkin? My sense of doom eased slightly when another couple walked in. PHEW. At least another set of voices would take the edge off. Things were looking up. The place was practically bustling. I allowed my heart rate to drop below a thousand beats per minute. And then. No. NO . YOU **********
The person I had never seen before, apart from the time I rudely ignored his directions, brought the newly arrived couple over to my quiet corner and SAT THEM AT THE ADJACENT TABLE. It was a small corner yo. The aisle between the two tables was wafer thin. We were now practically double dating. I wasn’t sure which chopsticks belonged to me and which belonged to the brute of a man sitting so close to me now, that our knees were virtually touching. I was in a world of pain.
There was only one thing for it. WAITER BRING ME BEER.
Three beers later – this was it.
You know I love you right? I know I’m hard work and that. This has been my longest relationship. You know I love you. A lot. Oh shit, budge up I’m coming around.
I wanted to be next to her. To kneel. I stood up and turned sideways to squeeze down the size zero aisle and as I did, my arse cheeks knocked the brute’s beer bottle over. Luckily he caught it but was forced to suck the top. I apologised. He accepted. And then, everyone was staring at me. I smiled and stood there, next to pre-wifey, willing with all my balls that the two strangers now staring at me would STOP STARING AT ME. And then, THEN the waiter came to see if I wanted anything! I wanted to set the ******** waiter on fire that’s what I wanted.
At this point I became aware of a bright, bright light. A peaceful, beautiful light. I could see my grandparents beckoning me. Major my first dog was with them. They looked happy. They wanted me to go with them. But I didn’t go towards the light. I ordered another beer instead. And then stood there for what seemed like a fortnight WHILE EVERYONE STARED AT ME. And then I gave in and knelt down. This house was not clean.
As I got down on one knee by the side of my now confused looking pre-wife, my two neighbour-strangers staring at me stopped breathing and then started staring at each other. Motionless. Not eating. Not talking. Just sitting there, like they were frozen in time. At this juncture I would not have been surprised in the slightest if tiny handed Jeremy Beadle had appeared dressed as Charlie Chan. God it was quiet.
So, in complete silence, in an empty Chinese restaurant, I on bended knee, rambled for a bit, tried to make sense of what I had planned to say and then started crying. All clearly audible in the most silent place on earth known to man.
It was all too much. I just cried. I loved the woman with all my heart. I knew I was proposing properly this time. This time it mattered. I knew right there and then that there was nothing before this moment. Sorry Deborah. Sorry Lisa.
Nearly-wifey took pity on me and helped me to my feet with those special words ‘It’s all right love, get up now‘. I turned red and then turned sideways to squeeze back to my seat. The brute pre-empted me and moved his beer. His date may have sniggered I’m not sure. My face was burning brighter than the sun. I could taste my own tears. But at least I hadn’t poo’d myself.
I sat down and ate some mediocre Chinese food with one hand, while as-near-as-dammit-wifey held my other hand and stroked it gently as I trembled. She said ‘yes’ which was excellent, but I couldn’t help but feel she deserved a better proposal. Still do. Poor Wifey.
At least my hair was a sensible colour. By-the-by, did you know Elvis dyed his hair? Fact. On my children’s lives. His real hair colour was the same as mine.
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