During our long-distance courtship, my boyfriend and I exchanged a lot of mail. There were love letters, of course. And there were a few parcels. Once, I bought him a Gift Ball: a generous length of crepe paper strips wound around some surprise trinkets, fashioned into a spherical grab bag of cute junk. The way he tells the story, he received the Gift Ball on the same day he received a letter from me, as well as a sizable check from a previous employer. He sat himself down to read my letter, and to pull apart the novelty I had sent. He unwound crepe paper, and found – a flat plastic man. He unwound more crepe paper and found a sticker that read, "STOP, LOOK, LISTEN." He rolled out the last of the paper, and founda beautiful blue plastic gumball machine ring.
He stopped, looked, and listened. He decided that the ring was prophetic, so he cashed his check, drove to the jewelry store, and asked to see the first engagement ring that caught his eye. "I don’t know if I can afford it, but I’ll start with what I like," he said. The price was $10.00 less than the amount of his check, so bought the ring and spent the rest of that week twirling it on the tip of his pinkie finger; then he drove 350 miles to pop the question.
After dinner at our favorite restaurant, we drove to where we had gone on our first date. He had a gift for me! A homemade, monster-sized version of the gift ball I had sent him. He watched as I unrolled it. (He had used a lot of crepe paper.) It unspooled into piles at my feet. I spent a long, long time unrolling crinkly red crepe paper onto the floor of his car. He was nervous and I was very curious.
At last! The prize in the center of the Gift Ball was a brown velvet jewelry box. He hedged: "I didn’t know if you wear necklaces. I didn’t, but I thought I’d start." I opened the box "the diamonds flashed" and he asked, "Will you marry me?"
And I said, "I wouldn’t marry anyone else."
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