The proposer will be referred to as Cocaine Boy in this story, which may or may not be true depending on whether or not I receive a cease and desist letter.
We were in my Myrtle Beach townhouse community pool and our conversation went like this:
Him: Where do you want to go tonight?
Me: NYC hahaha!
Me: I was kidding.
Him: Come on let’s go – right now.
Me: Okay sure, fuck it.
We left 20 minutes later and drove 10 hours with chlorine in our hair. No plan and no place to stay because that’s what you do when you’re 26 and a complete dumbass. Oh and I had just quit my job. He had just been fired from his. For drugs, the felony, or stealing – take your pick.
I had been made aware of his charming qualities by concerned members of our community but being the genius I was chose not to believe them. In my defense, Cocaine Boy could passionately lie, including tears, in a way that’s typically reserved for Oscar winners or people who have 37 people buried in their back yard. You know how when someone’s lying to your face and you know it but they’re so skilled they break your bullshit meter and you believe them, but as soon as they’re out of your sight the spell is broken and you kick yourself for falling for it? He’s that guy.
He woke me up to appreciate the sunrise from the New Jersey turnpike. Sexy. Cocaine probably explains why he was able to drive through the night while I soundly slept for half the trip. I say probably because I didn’t know. To this day I have never seen cocaine in real life. Except for that time my mom and step-dad were doing it to cooperate with the feds.
I don’t remember where we stayed in NYC but I’m sure it was tres luxe since we were both unemployed. Somehow we managed to be very well dressed and seated in a swanky theatre watching Sunset Blvd. when I noticed his knee vibrating like a jackhammer. He was obviously distracted, but who wouldn’t be when they’re violating parole? I was so taken by the fabulous costumes and set design I forgot about his runaway knee and watched the rest of the first half in rapt attention. I love musicals.
The lights came up for intermission and I immediately started prattling away about the awesomeness of Part I. He said nothing. I didn’t care. I kept chattering until we found ourselves in front of ceiling-to-floor windows overlooking Times Square. That’s when I noticed he was on the floor. I asked if he was okay while frantically looking around for someone who might be able to help if he collapsed entirely. When my eyes got back to him, he had produced a box holding a Rockefeller-ish diamond ring in it. Huge dreamy middle stone that I recognized as his late grandmother’s, surrounded by three chunky diamonds on both sides. It was the very same setting I had chosen the week before when he asked my opinion for “a friend” who planned to propose to his girlfriend. My first clue should have been: he had no friends.
Then his pale and sweaty face asked: Will you marry me?
Internal dialogue: Are you fucking kidding me? I was just trying to find the right time to break up with you. I’m pretty sure you’re a felon with a cocaine addiction, and I know for sure you have two small children AND YOU’RE NOT LEGALLY DIVORCED YET. Tacky. But oh my gahd if I say no you might create a cocaine-induced scene with your jackhammer knee right here in front of all these classy people in tuxedos and ball gowns. Then you’ll storm out of the theatre and leave me alone in NYC with no money to get home.
I didn’t want to call a family member to send me money, mainly because they didn’t have any, so I devised a better plan. A plan I’d seen him execute flawlessly so many times before.
Knowing I would give the ring to his mother when we got home, I shifted into Julia Roberts mode and squeaked out a playful giggle and a “yes.” Everyone in the lobby cheered, and then I teared up. Not for the reasons most girls do when they get engaged. But because for all the lies he told me, this lie, MY lie, was the biggest lie you can tell someone. Payback is a bitch.
A heartwarming, fabulous bitch.
I’ve never been so happy to see the Welcome to South Carolina sign.
I gave the ring to his mother, hoping the family heirloom would be safe. Later that summer I packed up my Ford Explorer and drove to Los Angeles. With no job, no plan, and $300. Because that’s what you do when it’s time to start over.
But not before he stalked me, got me fired from my job, and his estranged wife subpoenaed me to testify in their divorce proceedings.