"I was wondering if I could have grandma's ring."
I decide I have to do something to ensure that. Of course the thought of Amber moving on never crosses my mind. She would never leave me or anything like that. We love each other. Neither of us have a reason to go looking for someone else. I simply want Amber to know that she is more to me that just a girlfriend.
I go to see my mom while Amber is at work. I let myself into the house. My mom is already home from work. When I arrive she is fixing herself dinner.
“Hey, mom,” I say coming into the kitchen. She gasps, putting her hand over her heart.
“Jesus, you scared me,” she says as she crosses herself.
“Sorry. I suppose I should have warned you that I was coming.”
“Probably would have been a good idea. Are you staying for dinner? I was just going to heat up some leftovers. I can make extra.”
“Sure, I’ll take a plate.”
I sit down at the kitchen table and wait quietly as my mom microwaves some mystery soup. She puts mine on the counter and hands me a roll and a can of soda.
“Thanks,” I say.
“Sure. No problem.” She goes back to warm a bowl up for herself. “So why are you here honey?”
“What do you mean?”
“You don’t normally stop by on Tuesdays. You usually only come on the weekends.”
“Well we’re leaving for tour next week.”
“Yeah, I know. I wasn’t expecting you until this weekend.”
I sigh, “I’m here for a reason.”
“I figured as much.” Mom puts her bowl on the table in front of me and sits down. She lifts her spoon. “Alright spill.”
“I was wondering if I could have grandma’s ring.”
Mom looks up at me with a startled expression, “Grandma’s ring, why?”
I just sit there and look at her, eating my soup, “Are you really asking that question?”
She sighs, “You’re going to ask Amber to marry you.”
Mom sighs again, “Well…do you think you’re ready for that?”
“I don’t think we’ll get married right away. It’s just that… we already plan to get married eventually. I mean I’ve already asked her a few times. This is the actual proposal, you know? This is the serious one. I don’t think we’re going to do it anytime soon but I just wanted to have an actual ring involved and you know… have her be my fiancée instead of my girlfriend.”
“You’ve already asked her?”
“Once or twice,” I admit.
“What did she say?”
“Another question you have to ask?”
Mom stays quiet for a second, “Well… I think you’re too young if you want my honest opinion. I know you didn’t come here to ask permission. You came for the ring.”
“I want your blessing too, mom. It would mean a lot to me. I love her and I’m going to marry her. Everyone already knows that. I’m just making the definite plan to.”
Mom chews on her mystery soup for a moment, just looking at me, “Fine.”
Then she pulls a chain out of her shirt and removes the ring. It was my grandmother’s ring. Mom has both her parent’s rings around her neck. She had been given them for the very purpose of giving them to me and my future wife. Mom probably didn’t expect it to be so soon but I’ve known since I was a kid that the rings around her neck would one day represent my marriage. I’ve know since I was a teenager that one of those rings would one day belong to Amber.
Mom slides the ring across the table and I lift it in my hand to look it over.
“It’s beautiful,” I say.
“I know. Just…be good to her, okay? You guys belong together and that’s the only reason I’m not putting up a fight.”
“I’ll always be good to her, mom.”
“When are you going to ask her,” mom questions.
“This weekend before we leave,” I answer.
“Do you have it planned yet?”
“Yep, and it’s a surprise.”
“Well, let me know how it goes.”
“I most definitely will.”
“Are you going to talk to her family first too?”
I nod, “Yeah, I’m going to talk to them after I leave here. Then I was planning on asking her dad. You know, be a gentleman about it.”
“Well I’m proud of you.”
I smile, “Thanks mom.”
After I help my mom clean up I thank her and give her a kiss on the cheek. I then head across the alley and knock on the door. Gerard, who is slowly getting better now that he’s going to a therapist, answers the door. He looks surprised to see me.
“Hey, man. Come in,” he says. “What are you doing here?”
“I just came to talk to you about something,” I answer closing the door behind me.
“Well you and Donna that is.”
“I see. She’s in here. C’mon.”
Gerard leads me into the living room to where Amber’s aunt is sitting.
“Frankie, honey, what are you doing here?” Donna asks.
“I came to talk to you guys.”
“How’s Amber? Is everything okay?”
“Amber’s great. She’s at work. She doesn’t know I’m here.”
“I see. So what is it you want to talk about?”
I clear my throat and pull the ring out of my pocket. Then I set it down on the coffee table. Gerard and Donna look at it for a minute.
“You’re going to propose to Amber?” Gerard finally asks.
I nod, “That’s the plan.”
There is another moment of silence.
“When are you planning on asking her?” Donna asks.
“This weekend, before Pencey Prep leaves on tour,” I respond.
“It’s a beautiful ring, honey.”
“Thank you. It was my grandmother’s.”
“So…” Gerard says. His opinion scares me the most. “You think you’re ready?”
“I don’t think we’re going to rush right into it. It’s just that everyone already knows we plan to get married anyway. I’m pretty sure neither of you are surprised. I just want to make it official.”
“Well it’s a bit sooner than I anticipated,” Donna says. “I’m not surprised though.”
“Well, let us know how it goes,” Gerard said.
“I most definitely will. I just wanted to have your blessings before I asked,” I tell them.
“You obviously have them. It’s not like we’re exactly going to say ‘no, she deserves better’ or anything.”
After I finish up at the Way’s I go to say goodbye to my mom. Then I drive back to New York but take a detour to Amber’s dad’s house in Queens. We’d gone to dinner there a few times but we don’t really see them a lot. Amber’s dad’s wife has a crap ton of kids and Ray, the gangster, has a kid on the way. No surprise there, right? At least he finally got laid and realized Amber wasn’t available.
Amber’s dad lets me in and I get right to the point. This is mainly because I want to get home to Amber and also because the house is noisy and smells weird.
“Do you remember what we talked about when Amber was in the hospital?” I ask him.
“I’m not exactly sure,” he says.
I clear my throat, “Well, remember when I said I wanted to marry her? You said I had to ask you first.”
Amber’s dad smiles, “I said that? I’m funny.”
I laugh, “Well I’ve come to ask your permission.”
“Well you’ve got it. It’s not like I’m going to say no or anything. I’m glad you asked me first though. That’s real classy.”
He pats my back and I laugh again.