dear sparklet,

this is the fourth in a series of letters to baby sparklet about how mommy and daddy met and woo-ed each other.

there are some stories that get better with age … and then there are stories that start out really $&#% funny, and stay really $&@#% funny.

I hope this is the latter.

a few years into the relationship, we made the honest mistake of going to Texas. sure, the lady sparkler’s parents were great, and her sisters were awesome … but her friends? lunatics.

apparently, something in the water down there causes people to think that 18 months of dating is the maximum allowable before some kind of engagement is necessary, beit of the voluntary or shotgun variety.

the sparklers, being a bit past that “threshold” had apparently tripped some kind of Texas state-wide alert system, where friends hold waves of rolling interventions to make sure “everything’s alright” and that the boy doesn’t have any “problems” that needed to be addressed (likely by overwhelming displays of machismo, or belt buckles, or both).

by the end of the year, after a couple of months of interventions, the lady sparkler was in a tizzy … and her occasional, badly disguised, open-ended questions about an engagement timeline started getting more and more pointed (and more and more badly disguised).

each time she would tizzy, we would talk … and each time we’d agree that *we* needed to have a timeline that worked for *us,* even if it was at odds with the posse was forming along the Rio Grande.

I should pause.

sure, Texans are ten-gallon-hat-sized-crazy for thinking 18 months of dating is suitable for long-term mate selection (which leads to all sorts of redneck/missing teeth/social Darwinist jokes which I will forgo due to likely readership demographics) …

… but it is possible that my people (from the opposite side of the “war of northern aggression”) just might fall off the other end of the commitment scale. I have friends that dated for 8 years before the topic of marriage even came up, or (worse yet) were engaged for 5+ years before deciding whether they should actually tie the knot.

so, from my worldview, i thought that I was being carefree to the point of reckless abandonment by thinking of proposing to a woman I had been dating for *only* two years. yet, all the while, the great state of Texas was negotiating with Chuck Norris to come shift my worldview for me.

I digress …

by February, my beloved had become as subtle as a three year old in the aisle of a toy store … and I was started to dig in, solely as a matter on principle. by the 27th time the issue was raised in those three months, I sat my beloved down, and we talked. it went something like this:

me: “you know i love you. and i want you to know that you can propose to me anytime you like …”

the lady sparkler: “ummmm.”

me: “no, seriously. I know how much you want to get engaged… so you are welcome to go ring shopping, pick out something nice for me, and then get down on one knee and propose. I promise I’ll wear the ring everyday.”

her: “uhhhhhh.”

me: “what’s wrong, sweetie?”

her: “I think I’d prefer if you proposed to me.”

me: “interesting. okay, here’s the deal. let’s say we have a date for the hypothetical engagement, let’s call it X.”

her: “is X soon?”

me: “well, interesting that you mentioned that … each time you ask when it is, or suggest that X should be coming sooner, the hypothtical engagement date becomes X + 1 month.”

her: “so, when is X then?”

me: “i’m not sure, but it’s now TWO months later than it was three minutes ago.”

of course, I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I had bought an engagement ring two months earlier and was just waiting for her to shut her yap about it, so it could be a surprise.

continued …

PHOTO: Statue, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York.