I’m at a jewelry store to get my watch repaired. It’s a cheap watch.
The jeweler is a white-haired man with a grandaddy face. He’s staring at my watch, squinting.
“It’s Italian,” I tell him. “El Timexo.”
He says the thing needs a new battery-o.
There is a kid browsing the glass cases behind me. He’s young, skinny built. He’s wearing a neon-orange reflective vest, work boots.
He asks the girl at the counter if he can see a ring. She unlocks the case.
He looks at it, frowns, then hands it back.
He asks, “Should ALL engagement rings have diamonds?”
She tells the kid that there’s no constitutional mandate, but that it’s strongly recommended by the American Jeweler’s Association.
He asks about payment plans. She shows him a flyer and tells him about financing options.
The kid asks to see a cheaper ring.
He looks hard at it. “You sure this is the right size? It looks so big.”
“Yep. That’s a six.”
“If it’s too big, can I bring it back?”
“We can resize it.”
He takes a few heavy breaths. He sighs. He says, “I just hope she says yes. I mean, I think she will. But what if she doesn’t?”
The woman smiles. She holds up her left hand for him, showing him a small ring. Then, she tells the story that goes with it.
She was at a swimming pool. Her boyfriend showed up unannounced. He climbed the high-dive. He screamed his proposal from the top of the world.
She hollered, “Yes!”
So, he attempted a backflip. He slipped. He skinned his backside and hit his head on the springboard. He had to visit the ER. He had stitches.
Another employee joins the conversation. She’s middle-aged. She tells her own proposal tale.
Her second husband brought her to the beach one evening. There sat a table, topped in white linen and plates of blackened grouper.
He got down on a knee. They’ve been happy ever after.
The old man that’s disassembling my watch, says to the kid:
“My wife and I just celebrated thirty-two years. She’s the love of my life. Trust me, you won’t regret asking the woman you love to marry you.”
The kid removes his wallet. He pays in cash. He counts wrinkled bills on the counter.
He says, “I really didn’t plan on doing this today. But this morning, I just realized that I love her so much, and I love her kids, too. I just want us to be a real family.”
The woman puts the ring in a fancy box. The kid thanks her and says, “I’m nervous, y’all pray for me.”
Then, he crawls into a white work truck with ladders hanging on the roof-rack, and drives away.
I don’t know what you’re doing today. I know you’re probably busy keeping the world spinning. But there’s a kid out there.
You’ll recognize him. He’s the one with a cheap ring in his pocket. He’s about to lay it all on the line.
He just wants a family of his own.
Thank you in advance, sir.