The continuing saga of how Robert fell in love with Karen at the tender age of nine, stayed in love, and Karen had no idea until many years later and you know, sometimes miracles happen.
How do I ask Karen to marry me?
We have been going out for several months and it’s obvious that we hold the same values, are deeply in love, meant to live our lives together.
But, I’m stumped. Really, I have no idea how this is done. How do you ask a woman to marry you? Especially the woman you’ve been in love with since fourth grade. My only role models are, and this is sad, the movies.
Especially the screwball comedies, which, quite frankly, are amusing and brilliant, but relations between the sexes are not really all that normal. In fact, the love impulse is based on conflict—pathological conflict.
Example: Barbara Stanwyck hisses her love for Henry Fonda in The Lady Eve.
“I need him like the axe needs the turkey.”
Or the way Rosalind Russell declares her love for Cary Grant in His Girl Friday:
“Oh Walter, you’re wonderful—in a loathsome sort of way.”
Or Cary Grant and Irene Dunne dueling deliciously in The Awful Truth.
The delight in these films is the way the men and women just keep nailing each other with amazing zingers; it is obvious that the relationship can never be exhausted; the man and woman will never tire of one another. But boy oh boy, it will be noisy.
Karen and I are not in the movies. We do not trade endlessly amusing zingers. We talk, we laugh. We are at ease when we don’t talk. We say “I’m sorry” and “thank you” when it’s appropriate for if you never say you’re sorry then you’re a boor or a moron or probably both. There is no conflict. No drama. In short, we are happy.
Let’s see what else is out there to guide me in this perplexing problem of how to pop the question?
There are the Samurai movies that I love. Kurosawa, he knows everything, right? The noble samurai warrior keeps his distance from the chaste but lovesick princess/peasant/servant/beauty/whatever, and then the night before the decisive battle they find themselves alone and she offers herself to him and he declines because, well, he’s a warrior and he’s noble. And it’s funny, I just realized, in these samurai movies, no one ever talks about getting married. The women are always howling: “Take me! Take me! For tomorrow you die!” Sheesh, talk about speed dating.
Again, not a great role model for an Orthodox Jew.
Maybe I should just, you know, ask her.
“Karen, will you marry me… Please!? Or I’ll shrivel up and die and end up a bum in the street!”
No, strike that.
“Karen, will you marry me? I love you and want to spend the rest of my life with you.”
Maybe I should even get down one one knee, like in those really bad movies? But I’m pretty sure Karen would laugh. Or at least stifle a laugh.
So, I’m stuck. Really stuck. And then, well you know me. Never do anything nice and easy. I have a brilliant idea. I’ll drop some hints.
Karen and I are window shopping on Columbus Avenue, there’s some furniture on view and I grab the opportunity.
“That’s kind of nice, isn’t it? I don’t know all that much about furniture, but I mean, it’s got subtle colors, strong lines, looks really comfortable, it’s not too expensive, and when we’re married we could get something like that for our apartment, right?” I say it all in one breath, really fast.
See what I mean. Subtle.
Karen turns her onyx gaze on me. She knows me by now. She’s much smarter than me and so instead of jumping up and down and clapping her hands, and instead of even acknowledging the reference to marriage, Karen just sort of locks me in that lazer gaze and says… nothing.
Hellooo. Didn’t you hear me? I used the M word?
And we move on and I keep babbling and before you know I’ve made about ten references to “being married” and “when we’re married” by the end of the day.
By the end of the week, who knows how many references I’ve dropped? Dozens. Hundreds. They are scattered all over the Upper West Side like mad butterflies.
And suddenly it is understood that we are, well, getting married.
I don’t think Karen has ever said, yes.
It’s just… there.
The moral of the story is: You don’t have to pop the question. You don’t need any theatrics. You just know when it’s right and you glide along and life kind of sneaks up and gently takes care of you.
To be continued…
Karen adds: Robert is a dramatist by trade, I am a realist. So the story goes something like this: Robert mentioned the M word about twice. The first time I sort of froze in disbelief, thinking, “Was it a slip of the tongue? Will I look over anxious if I jump at the reference? I can’t look too eager? He didn’t even ask me?”
I kept cool and didn’t say anything.
The second time he used the “M” word, I said something like, “Did you really mean that? Are you really thinking we are going to get married?” Robert answered, “Sure, don’t you?” I answered, “Yeah, I do, When were you thinking of?” Robert answered, “Oh, in about five years.”
I nearly blacked out.
Here I was, in my mid twenties, FIVE YEARS!
I know now he was worried about his screenwriting career, finances.
I swiftly set Robert straight, and said, that’s way too long, “I’m not waiting five years!” Robert said, “When do you want to get married?” I answered, “Within the year.” Robert rebounded quickly, “Okay, whatever you want.”
And that was our proposal, no flourishes, no flowers, just brass tacks. We didn’t go public for about two more months. We waited until the very second Robert’s sister’s wedding was over and then announced our engagement in February, having this conversation in December.
No ring either. That’s another blog entirely.
Robert adds: Whoops!