Eric Strong was incredibly nervous. He had about a mile walk before arriving at his girlfriend’s place. Tonight was the night, he was going to ask his beloved, Amanda, to marry him. But, he was getting cold feet.
“I need a sign of true love and if that happens then I will ask her to marry me.”
So, he walked slowly, alert, waiting for that special sign that would balance things in the favour of him popping the question. He checked the right pocket of his lucky pants and the ring was nestled in there quietly, awaiting the big moment.
He had rehearsed what he was going to say a hundred times. He had practiced in front of the mirror and had even tested the line on his sister.
“I have given this much thought and realized when my heart and my mind co-operated with my soul that it was time to ask you to become my wife.”
He had changed that particular phrasing dozens of times.
So, Eric walked and he stopped. There was a teenage boy and a teenage girl. They were talking and it was beautiful to see two young people seemingly in love.
But, then her expression changed and almost instantly her eyes became watery slits. She ceremoniously pulled a ring off her finger and threw it at him storming off.
He waved his arms in anger, but she was gone. He didn’t even chase after her.
This was not the kind of sign he was looking for.
He remembered the first time that he met Amanda. In order to pay for school, Eric had worked in a cafe doing everything from waiting on tables to cleaning dishes. One night, they were short staffed and he was pressed into service as a waiter.
There was a table of three very nice looking girls. They were probably all college students since they were wearing the school jackets. One of them was Amanda. He took their orders and when he returned spilled a latte all over her.
“I am so sorry.” Eric was humiliated.
“You stupid idiot,” bellowed Natalie. She didn’t help the situation.
“Look, the latte is on the house.”
“Big deal, is that the best you can do?”
Eric looked at Natalie and took off into the kitchen.
The next day, Amanda returned to apologize for her roommate’s behaviour.
“Hey, look, I’m really sorry about last night.”
“I am the one that should be apologizing. I am glad that I wasn’t fired.”
“So am I. My name is Amanda.”
“My name is Eric. Once again, I am really sorry for dropping the latte in your lap.”
“Apology accepted,” she smiled at him.
She started to show up regularly alone and eventually he worked up the courage to ask her on a date, which was against the cafe policy. But, it was his last shift and he didn’t really care.
So, he kept walking and then stopped. There was a pigeon dead on the street and its mate was strutting back and forth apparently very upset.
“Great, first someone’s heart gets broken and then there is death. The two things in a relationship everyone wants,” he said sarcastically.
Eric moved on.
Their first date was cancelled. Natalie’s boyfriend had broken up with her an hour before he was supposed to pick up Amanda. They had planned to try out this trendy restaurant. When he arrived, the new woman in his life was distraught.
“Hi, I am really sorry, but I can’t go out tonight.”
“Because Natalie’s boyfriend broke up with her and she is a mess. I can’t leave her alone.”
“Oh, well, I guess then I will have to take a rain check?”
“You can stay. In fact, it would be great if you did.”
He stayed and all three watched a movie. When Natalie went off to the bathroom, Amanda turned to him.
“I’m sorry, this isn’t a real great first date.”
“It’s okay, because we are together and that is all that counts.”
They exchanged smiles.
Later, after he had left, Natalie shook her head.
“What’s wrong, Natalie?”
“You found yourself a real winner there. My guy was a loser. Most guys would have gone home when they found out that the date was canceled. They would have been angry. But, this guy stayed, got up to get us drinks, made the popcorn and was really nice. I fell so stupid about the night I screamed at him in the cafe.”
“It’s okay, he felt bad that your heart got broken. You’re right, he is a real winner.”
Eric was about half way to Amanda’s place and so far he hadn’t seen one proper sign.
He passed a middle-aged couple that had been in a fender bender.
“George, you need glasses.”
“I don’t know what you are talking about, Mary.”
“You didn’t stop in time and hit the car in front of you. You need glasses.”
“I think you need to shut up, Mary.”
“You have no manners. I married a man with no manners.”
“Well, we can fix that real fast now can’t we? I will get my freedom and you can find some guy with manners. That is if you are able to find someone at all.”
“You are also rude.”
Eric walked on.
“Is this what life is going to be like after we are married a few years?”
He moved on.
He wasn’t that far away from Amanda’s place when a yellow Corvette convertible stopped. The passenger rolled down the window and the girl poked her head out the window.
“Hi, Eric, how are you?”
It was Wendy, his ex-girlfriend.
“Hi, Wendy, how are you?”
“I am good. I am engaged, look.” She flashed a ring in his face and he smiled.
“Good for you,” he said.
“This is my husband, Mike.”
Eric peeked inside and saw an old man, someone that was aged enough to be her father.
“Well, congratulations you two. I have to go now.”
“Bye, Eric,” she said with the biggest smirk on her face.
They zoomed off.
“Well, there is part of a sign. They will never grow old together. I want to grow old with Amanda, raise children together, enjoy the grandchildren in our golden years.”
He was almost at Amanda’s and shrugged his shoulders.
“She doesn’t know I have the ring. I don’t have to ask her tonight. I mean, there is no timetable here.”
And, then, he saw an older couple together helping each other out. She was in a wheelchair clutching a cane, while he pushed her along. He was blind and she was giving him directions. They were very old, but they were laughing and basking in their undying love.
“Each one of them was a sign,” he shouted. “In a relationship, there were going to be moments of anger, death, disagreement, love, caring, understanding and communication.”
The older couple turned around and looked at him funny.
He waved at them like they were best friends.
Then he ducked the entrance to Amanda’s apartment building.
“I love you, Amanda and I want us to grow old together. Yeah, that’s what I want to say.”
He buzzed her apartment.
“Come on up,” she giggled in anticipation.
She buzzed him through. He opened the door, took a deep breath and patted the ring in his pocket.