Ray was the boy next door, or at least two blocks away – when he broke up our skipping rope games on his tricked-out bicycle. That didn’t stop us falling in love – He was ten and I was nine. We spent our early teenage-hood hanging out together but work experience in Germany took me away from him for almost two years. When I returned to Dublin, I was nineteen – he was twenty and had swapped his pushbike for a gleaming Harley Davidson. I hoped, but never expected us to get together again but we did. To my absolute delight we fell back into the "best friends and lovers" slot. He had transformed from a skinny redheaded teenager into an athletic body-builder with sandy blonde hair. Older women used to call him "Robert Redford", I hid my jealousy well.
It was the enlightened eighties and even though I secretly wished for it more than anything else, I just couldn?t imagine him ever proposing to me. He was too hip, and I was "from the wrong side of the tracks" according to his posh mum.
One evening we were sipping juice in our local bar when he explained that he was taking a trip to London to buy a suit of leathers for his new bike. There was a Harley Ride Out planned for the following weekend, and I was invited to be his pillion!
" What size jacket do you take?" he asked me. I answered him, somewhat puzzled.
" And your jeans would be about 26" waist?" was the next question.
" Yes, why do you need to know?" I replied.
" For your suit of leathers" he said. "I’m buying you a suit in London, to keep you safe on the bike."
I looked into his eyes, still puzzled. He flashed a mischievous grin and taking my right hand, he kissed it gently.
" Well, it’s the suit of leathers, or an engagement ring- your choice" Ray whispered into my ear.
" And as pretty as those diamonds are, they wouldn’t give the sort of protection on the bike I would wish for my WIFE."
That was it – the proposal. No more, no less. He muttered that there would always be time to buy me a ring when I stopped being a tomboy. You could have picked me up off the floor.
We are twenty-two years married this month, and I still don’t have the engagement ring but I do have a loving husband (still freaky about chrome and stylish fairings) and a teenage boy who I expect will break a few hearts along the way. I just hope my son sticks with tradition and put a lovely sparkler on the right lady’s finger.
Dalkey, Dublin, Ireland