Only two more things left to do. First, I headed to her folks on a Friday after work to ask for her dad’s blessing. On the way, our relationship almost got derailed. Larysa called to ask where I was. “Working,” I lied. Second time [lying]. Then she went off! A shocking soliloquy about my job, the hours it required, the stress deadlines caused, the intrusiveness of clients. She actually said that she loved me, but didn’t know if she could live the life of a lawyer’s wife! Holy shit! What do I do now?
Well, I stopped for a slice of pizza, my comfort food. Then I called my friend Anthony, a newlywed attorney and my former protégé, who I hoped had some sage advise for me. And he did. I told him about Larysa’s download, and how I was nursing a slice two blocks away from her folks’ house, where I thought I would be asking for her hand in marriage about now.
“Just go do it,” he said.
“And what if she says no?”
“She ain’t saying no,” he declared. “She’s venting. No, no, she’s ranting. They rant when they love you. She feels bad for YOU, not herself. She’s all in. You’re hearing ‘yes.'”
This made sense to me, so I finished up and went over to her parent’s place. Things made less sense there. After my heartfelt request, Larysa’s dad extended his hand, announcing, “Sure. It’s a deal.” Strange as it sounds, I actually replied, “Steve, maybe you don’t understand: I’m not looking to buy your horse, I’m asking to marry your daughter.” But he just said, “Whatever. Look, there are no returns.” I really didn’t know what to make of this, so I just agreed and left.
Next, I invited Larysa to join me the following night, six months to the day from our 1st date, to recreate it. Same restaurant, same cafe, same music, sans Charlie Brown, same clothes, sans coats. I followed through. She, of course, was smarter than that, and did not wear wool on an 80 degree night. At the New Moon, we took the same table. But there was something new: a vintage tin sign on the wall for… engagement rings. I said, “Wow, how fitting.” Larysa didn’t catch on.
Later, we went to Cafe Vivaldi again. No kook with a baguette, but there was a comedy show going on. It was easily 100 degrees in the room. Man, I was dying in that wool! I said to Larysa, “Let’s go somewhere more civilized for a nightcap” and we walked around the corner to One if by Land.
Of course everything was perfect in there. The AC was on high. The fire was lit. The candles flickered. The pianist played. We sat in front of the fire (she was chilly). We got drinks and started to chat. Then I blurted, “Oh, I forgot to tell you… I finished the song. Here’s the last verse.” And I handed her an index card. On it was written:
“So that’s my oratory
But wait, there’s one more thing
Just to complete the story
I bought this diamond ring”
As Larysa read, I dropped to one knee. She looked down at me, stunned. What I said next was and is for her alone, but her response is not. She asked, “Are you crazy?”
“You have to answer me first for me to know” I responded.
“Yes. Yes… sure.
The room erupted in applause. Apparently we were putting on quite a show. I hadn’t noticed that there was even anyone in the room. Still, I guess I wasn’t crazy.
One year later, I waited in front of the alter at Nativity BVM with my brother. An envelope had been delivered to Larysa when the limo pulled up. It said, “Even more today” on it. It contained my Christmas letter. Then the organ started the intro to “Here Comes the Bride,” and I looked up the aisle. The sun beamed through the stained glass windows around us. She walked into the church, and the light, at the end of the aisle, and as she walked, was surrounded by white roses. Her eyes were as blue as the sky, and shining. Her skin was glowing, her smile was luminous. She was just beautiful.
I felt that “shock to the heart” the Italians speak of. And as she walked down the aisle toward me, something occurred to me that, surprisingly, hadn’t before. After her dad gave me her hand, I shared that thought with her. I whispered in her ear, “Today I marry my dream girl.”
Father Angelo walked me through my vows. “Repeat after me. I…” You all know the vows: we chose the same classic vows from the catechism that our parents had spoken to each other years earlier. I spoke each one loudly. Then Father Angelo turned to Larysa and simply read through the entire set of vows himself, all at once! There was a brief pause, and I’m sure everyone in the church wondered what would come next. But I had a hunch. Larysa looked at me and silently mouthed “Sure.” Then she said aloud, “I do.”
At the reception, we danced our 1st dance as husband and wife to “Nightingale in Berkely Square,” performed by Michele and Heidi. We thanked everyone who helped bring us together. And our guests each got a demi-bottle of very fine Port and a scroll with a Pablo Neruda Love Sonnet. Toward the end of the night, Bob asked us if his wasn’t the best referral we had ever had. Simultaneously, we both responded, “Sure.”
In a world that’s constantly changing, it turns out some things never change. The old timers were right. When you meet the right one, you know. You have no doubts. You’re sure. You’re both sure. Together, you see it much better. We did. To this day, I love her. I’ll love her forever. I’m sure with her.
Oh, you want the song now. Here it is:
She’s the One
My jokes were never funny
My lines were always stale
I freely spent my money
No magic, just a sale
But this one’s always laughing
So hard she starts to cry
And there’s a spell she’s casting
All free, do you know why
Well if you don’t get it, I can’t help you
Hope one day you see
There really is a simple reason
And it’s clear to me
She’s the one
Yeah, yeah, yeah, she’s the one
I used to follow Zagat’s
I liked to dine with flair
But as we ate our salads
My eyes were everywhere
But she’s got my attention
In fact I seem to stare
Oh yeah, and did I mention
We don’t go anywhere
Now she’s heard all my stories
And she’s met all my friends
She’s not accusatory
I’ve nothing to defend
So that’s my oratory
But wait, there’s one more thing
Just to complete the story
I bought this diamond ring
Cause she’s the one.