The Hidden Ring

I hid it behind a cabinet. Then in the closet. And inside an old suitcase. Basically, anywhere she couldn’t find it. And it was not easy.

She knew. I knew she knew. It was the way she’d drop hints and fish.

A DeBeers commercial would come on. “That’s a nice one. What kind of diamond do you think I’d like?” Sideways glance.

We’d walk by a Kay Jewelers. “This is a cheaper diamond store right? I never know which ones are more expensive and which ones aren’t.” Sideways glance.

A newly engaged friend would be sitting next to us. “What a beautiful ring!” Sideways glance.

To be accurate, she only partly knew. Soon after I asked her father for her hand in marriage, her Mom accidentally let it slip. Then her friends confirmed that, yes, I was ring shopping. What they didn’t know was whether or not I had made the purchase. Because then, it would be official. So that’s what she was not-so-subtly trying to fish out.

I held strong though. I would deftly change the subject or leave her with frustratingly vague answers, she told me later. Ha! Try and pull a fast one on me, huh? (The irony of me trying to pull a fast one on her and her finding out is not lost upon me.)

There was one particularly agonizing discussion, however. A new job opportunity presented itself to her. Although no one said this, we had a feeling that being married could increase her chances because it would make her appear more stable. More like someone who is ready to settle down in a new city, buy a house, and work there for a long time.

At least, that’s what she told me.

She was so visibly troubled by her chances that I tried hard to reassure her that, yes, you will be engaged soon. I have the ring and am just waiting for the right time. Don’t worry, everything will be okay!

It killed me to see her sad about possibly losing this opportunity. There were times I wanted to run to the hiding spot, pull out the ring, and propose to her right there and then. Seriously. I was this close to it.

But I held strong. I didn’t say anything. And later, she admitted that was another fishing tactic. There was truth to it, she just exaggerated her concerns to see if I would crack. Clever girl.

Then the day came. We took a trip to Hong Kong, then to Japan. I carried the ring in my pocket all the way there. Quite literally. There were some nights where I would sleep with it, because I was so paranoid about losing it. And no, it was not comfortable.

That little hunk of metal and stone traveled far. All the way from Orange County, California, to Kyoto, Japan. From being hidden behind shelves and boxes, to being there, in my hands, as I knelt down on one knee and proposed to my beautiful wife-to-be. And surprisingly, she didn’t know it was coming at all.

A Sappy Love Song’s Wish

Some sappy love song is on the radio. The kind that weaves woes around loveless loneliness. Scarce a soulmate, you wander without aim, humming doldrums of private pity. That sort of thing.

Sure, I’ve been there. I remember walking through the city night, alone yet crowded. Earphones to remove the world, music to provide the soundtrack to my melancholy. It felt so good. It felt so horrible.

The sappy love song is asking for a wish. One wish.

I remember that too. Asking for a wish – just one wish – to wash away all the drab and grime. To find the love of my life, my one and only.

Then I look over at my wife. Taking a nap on the couch. Curl of hair caressing her cheek. And I realize.

My wish came true.

There she is. The love of my life, my one and only. By some astounding coil of fate, my wish was answered. Who am I to be so lucky? I don’t know, but there she is, sleeping like an angel.

The wish I had so many years ago, once as implausible as underpants gnomes, now as normal as napping on the couch. If you told me I was dreaming, I would believe you. Perhaps I need a token.

The sappy long song is asking for another wish.

I don’t need another wish. That would be greedy. I already have everything I could ever want. Anything else is just an extra delight. I found the love of my life, my one and only.

The small apartment, the car in need for repairs, the expensive housing market, they are all peripheral. Background extras. Secondary to the main act.

I know I’m luckier than most, and maybe not as lucky as some, but I feel like the luckiest one of them all.

My wish has woven someone wonderful. Thank you, sappy love song, for reminding me that my wish – that one wish – has come true.

The Proposal

Here’s how it went down.

As early as May of 2009, I started researching the insane industry of diamonds. Insane, I tell you, insane. And not just the industry, but the gazillions of cuts and colors and clarities out there.

To help, I contacted three of Mia’s closest friends. Each gave a clue to the sparkly rock that would one day dazzle Mia’s eyes. One friend even volunteered to take me diamond shopping for some great deals.

In September of 2009, Mia and I took a trip to Hawaii. During this trip, I anxiously waited for an opportunity to get her Dad alone. Once I did, I formally asked for Mia’s hand in marriage. He said Yes. Whew!

Then her Mom accidentally spilled the beans. And two of the three friends I contacted offered a confirmation. Mia knew I was ring shopping now. Darn it. But she didn’t know if I had made the purchase yet.

With that in mind, she began to eye each trip we took with eager suspicion. “Will he propose on this trip?” she’d wonder. “Or maybe this one?”

Months passed. No proposals. Mia started getting antsy. She tried to pry, asking decisive questions during engagement ring commercials. A De Beers commercial would come on and she’d ask, “Have you seen their rings? They have some nice rings.”

But I didn’t give any ground. “De Beers? I hate those guys and what they’ve done to the diamond industry. Such a scam. I’m hungry. What do you want for dinner?” Poor Mia.

Then three long months passed. In December, Mia and I took a trip to Hong Kong and Tokyo. Hong Kong was for the wedding of one of my college buddies. Tokyo was just for fun. Or so Mia thought.

She didn’t suspect a thing. “Mike would never risk carrying a diamond ring overseas,” she firmly thought. “He’ll probably propose on New Years Eve or something.”

I thought it seemed pretty obvious – and so did just about all of our friends – but I’m glad she didn’t. Heh.

Meanwhile, I was asking friends for advice on how to get a diamond ring through airport security safely. It was nerve-wracking to carry the ring throughout our travels, but I kept it close at all times. The only time I wasn’t gripping it firmly in my pocket was when I was eating, sleeping, or peeing.

On the morning of December 16, 2009, both Mia and I rubbed the feet of a little, smiling Buddha statue at the entrance of Ryokan Shimizu in Kyoto, Japan, where we were staying. Mia’s wish: “I hope I’m engaged before the year is over.” My wish: “I hope I pull this off without any problems.”

The first Kyoto temple we went to was Kiyomizu-dera, a favorite of ours from previous trips. We walked by the Jishu Shrine, which contains two “love stones” placed 18 meters apart. They visited the Otowa waterfall, whose three mystical streams are said to gift wisdom, health, and longevity. Then, while gazing out at the Kyoto landscape, I turned to Mia and said something like:

“This has been such a great trip, huh? I feel like this trip has been symbolic for us. First, we visited Hong Kong, where my family came from. Then we visited Japan, where your family came from. For me, this was a way to honor our families. After this trip, we’ll be back in California, back to our lives. And I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with you. I love you, Mia. I can’t wait to start a family with you. Do you remember our trip to Hawaii in July? While we were there, I spoke with your father. I asked him for your hand in marriage. He said yes.”

Then I got down on one knee, pulled a black box out of my pocket, and opened it. “Will you marry me?”

Mia’s jaw dropped. “Oh my God oh my God oh my God” she stammered. Tears trickled down her cheeks as I slipped the diamond ring onto her finger. “Oh my God oh my God oh my God!”

“So… is that a yes?” I asked.

“Oh my God Yes! Oh my God Yes!”

We embraced and kissed, as onlookers watched and smiled, at the Kiyomizu-dera, a couple in love.

A Definition of Romance

Hey guys, are you stressin’ about being romantic? Can’t think of how? Don’t want to follow the typical tactics espoused by Halmark and Hollywood? Or just questioning the whole concept?

Here is a definition of romance that may help lend perspective:

Romance is an act of intimate affection committed unexpectedly towards your love interest and without desire for personal gain.

Let’s take that statement apart to decipher its meaning. Romance is…

an act
Actions speak louder than words. Perhaps you can talk like Cassanova, but if you only talk about your feelings and never demonstrate it through a physical act, than your feelings are just a bunch of hot air.
of intimate
Though this term can carry a lot of baggage, the semantic usage I prescribe here is of an understanding of your love interest. Do you know something about that person that no one else knows? Do you know something personal and meaningful to that person? Hopefully you do if you have been listening and paying attention. The heart of a romantic act is showing that you are so interested in this person that you remember details of his/her life and interests.
Your romantic act ought to be one of adoration, fondness, even passion. It should be a display of your feelings towards your love interest and make him/her feel good. Bringing up that person’s history of weight problems, however personal and intimate, is not an act of affection, for instance.
committed unexpectedly
This act should to carry some measure of surprise. Certain holidays and landmarks, like Valentine’s Day, birthdays, anniversaries, etc, are loaded with expectation, of course. But romance does not need to exist only on those days. Small random acts of kindness can sometimes be more romantic than flowers and chocolate on Valentine’s Day.
towards your love interest
This should be the person with whom you have a genuine attractiveness and desire to know better, of course. Duh.
and without desire for personal gain
Some may argue that guys in particular only commit romantic acts for a physical return on investment, so to speak. True romance does not ask for anything in return, however. It is done selflessly and for the benefit of the love interest. Perhaps the only selfish gain is to see a smile on the other person’s face.

There are countless definitions of romance. I’m sure you have a way to express romance that is just as effective and beautiful. This is just mine.

How would you define romance?

How We Met

We met at a wedding. I know. It’s a cliché to meet someone at a wedding. Some even crash weddings to pick up those someones.

Not us though. Meeting a guy was, at best, on the periphery of her radar, if it was even on the screen. The bride told me there would be hardly any single girls there. So I turned my focus to enjoying Hawaii since it was my first time there.

My table at the wedding reception was the loud, drunk table. You know that table. Every wedding has one. Its guests are a raucous, rowdy bunch, roaring with alcohol. Elderly family members look over in disgust. Yup, that was us.

After a round or two of tequila shots, we crowded the bar for one more. We were all friends of the bride, so she joined us too. “How many should I get?” I asked.

A friend glanced around the group. “About seven, I think.”

I turned to the bartender and ordered seven tequila shots. As he handed me the shot glasses and I handed them over to my friends. However, there were only six of us. I was left with two shots in my hands.

That’s when I turned around and saw her. A cute smile and pretty freckles in an adorable black & white dress. And without a drink in her hands.

“Want to do a shot with us?” I asked her. I didn’t want the extra shot to go to waste. It was the polite thing to do. Plus, she was cute. “We’re doing a shot with the bride.”

“Sure,” she smiled and took the glass. I smiled back.

“To the bride!” someone shouted. We all raised our glasses and poured the burning tequila down our throats. Like liquid lava down our gullets, searing down our chests. I stifled a cough.

“Thanks,” she said as I took her empty glass.

“I’m Mike, by the way,” I told her.

“I’m Mia.”

I smiled. She smiled. And that’s how we first met.

Love Virgin

Are you a love virgin?

Allow me to explain. If you go by the traditional definition of the word “virgin,” it means a person who has not had sexual intercourse. If you’ve ever bumped uglies in the night, hid the hot dog, or taken the bullet train through Yonker’s tunnel, then no, you are not a virgin.

What about a love virgin?

Continue reading “Love Virgin”

The Science of Love: Controlling Love

Whenever people read about the science of love, it usually leads to one of two conclusions:

  1. If love is just a series of chemicals, how can I control it? Is love out of my control?
  2. If love is just a series of chemicals, can injections change how I feel? Can I make someone fall in love with me?

Continue reading “The Science of Love: Controlling Love”