You can learn a lot if you listen and this week, I learned that an elderly woman in a pancake house can have gigantic gems of wisdom stored away.
I was waiting on my breakfast while sitting with my niece and she’s none too quiet – giggly, silly and full of life. She’s 23 and still acts like a teenager but I like that. She’s a true joy to be around – the kind of girl that makes everyone smile when she walks in a room.
My only quam with her is that it’s impossible to have a conversation without her texting or facebooking on her iPhone – something I’ve just had to get used to. On this morning, she was typing away as usual and interrupted me in mid-sentence, “Awwww.. Claire got engaged and you have got to see this video!”.
She jumped on my side of the booth and proceeded to play the romantic proposal from a boy who went the extravagant (and increasingly predictable) route of creating a flash mob. There looked to be about a hundred friends and family involved in a proposal that naturally brought the “bride to be” to tears.
Unbeknownst to us, our waitress, Dorothy, had arrived with our food and was waiting patiently while enjoying the video over our shoulder. My niece saw her and starting laughing and telling her she was sorry while jumping back on her side.
“That’s all right,” said Dorothy. “I remember what those days were like and those are memories that will last forever!”.
My niece was quick to invite her into the conversation.
“Have you seen the flash mob proposals before?”
Dorothy said she had seen several on TV but back in her day, there wasn’t such a thing. She explained that you were lucky if a guy got down on one knee – and men didn’t think much about where they proposed either.
“My husband sure didn’t put much effort into it” she said. “He showed up at my house and waited for me to come in from the fields, where I worked every day. He was sitting on my porch and leaning back on his elbows with a boxed ring sitting on his chest. When I asked him what that was, he just smiled and said, ‘Dorothy, I want you to marry me'”.
My niece looked at her with an almost apologetic face and just said, “Awww..”.
Dorothy started laughing and said, “boring, huh?”.
My niece kindly asked, “Were you wanting him to get on one knee?”
“Honestly, honey.. I was so excited that I could have cared less. I screamed and he jumped up and we danced around in circles and just kept hugging. It was the kind of proposal I dreamed of my whole life!”.
My niece had her smile return and she exclaimed, “that’s so sweet!”
Dorothy went on to tell us that she had been married for 53 years now. She has four children and she’s never been apart from her husband for more than one day.
Dorothy went on to share a little more with us and it was clear that she was still in love after all these years. She had done something everyone dreams of – she had found her soulmate.
Romance and the Boring Generation
I found myself contemplating our breakfast conversation the rest of the day. It’s always a source of fulfillment to find someone who’s been married so long and is so happy. It creates a positive vibe that just stays with you for a while.
I wondered about the proposal that my own dad made to my mom – surprisingly, I didn’t remember having ever inquired. I gave Mom a call and found out that it too was… “boring”. She laughed and explained that proposals just weren’t big events back in the day. “It was the excitement of getting asked and looking ahead to the future” she told me.
Fast forward to today. There’s a whole new culture being created. The wedding proposal in becoming increasingly more important – for many, it’s become a competition.
That’s all fine and okay, but let’s not forget that the most extravagant proposal doesn’t even compare to the guy that understands what a lifelong commitment means – even if he doesn’t have a glorified wedding proposal tale to tell – even if he’s boring.
True romance isn’t defined by a surprise flash mob that took a couple weeks to plan. It’s not about how viral your wedding proposal goes.
True romance is defined in all the years that follow that special day when wedding vows are recited. It’s getting up in the middle of the night with your sick wife or child and staying up for hours – sometimes night after night, if that’s what it takes. It’s continuing to help out your wife with the dishes and the laundry and doing all you can to provide your family with the best life they could hope for. It’s remaining faithful and treating your wife as an equal partner. It’s always being honest – even when it’s difficult to do so.
True romance is loving her – kissing her, 20 years later, when she’s put on weight and struggles with not feeling as sexy as she used to.
True romance is growing old together and finding a way to still love each other, despite all the obstacles that got in the way over the years. It’s holding her hand when she’s nearing the end – and letting her know that your life was even better than you had imagined it as a boy – because she said yes to your boring proposal.
My goal is to be like my dad – he knew how to make boring look good.