I am not paying one bit of attention to Kurt Vonnegut yammering away on a CD playing over the car speakers about some man who lost his country or something like that. And I wonder how in the world Artie is.
His mother let it slip earlier in the day that Artie has something to ask me and if I say yes, he will have something to give me. That didn’t leave any room for guesswork. So, as we make our way on the road from Myrtle Beach to Charleston, I am sure Artie is going to pull into Brookgreen Gardens and ask me to marry him. I am already daydreaming about my dress and our honeymoon.
But he drives right past.
OK, I think. He doesn’t want to be obvious. We get back to our place in West Ashley. The day passes. And another. And another. And then he asks me to go to Sonic with him. Surely, I think, this is a ruse to get me in the car. It isn’t. We go to Sonic. He orders two chili dogs and then we drive back home.
The next day, Feb. 21, 2006, Artie is sick. Great, I tell my mother, he’s so worried about proposing he has made himself sick. Just ask him if he’s got a ring, my mom says, only after I’d called her no less than 30 times that week.
I make him chicken noodle soup, climb on the bed and say, “I know you have something for me, so why don’t you just go ahead and ask me, rather than make yourself get sick over it.”
“What do you think I have for you?” he asks.
“Something for me to wear on my ring finger.”
He wants to know who told me. “No one,” I say, telling him I used my super sleuth reporting skills (A white lie, sure. I didn’t want to sell out my soon-to-be mother-in-law). He showers, puts on a suit and tells me to
get in the car.
I blew his plans, Artie tells me as we drive to the peninsula. He hadn’t asked my parents yet and wanted to wait until March 17, St. Patrick’s Day, to make things memorable for this Irish girl. We drive around and see people in the gazebo on the Battery. The gate is locked on the small private garden off King Street. We drive past Harris Teeter. Artie runs in and grabs a bottle of champagne. He drives around some more.
Artie finally settles on St. Philip’s on Church Street. This way, he tells me, when I look at the iconic skyline here — the reason Charleston is called the Holy City — I can always remember this night. He kneels before me. Holds out the ring and tells me why he wants to be my husband and why he wants me to be his wife. He asks me to marry him. And I say yes.
I’m ready for the champagne. Artie says he needs to get back to bed. Turns out, he really was sick. And, so it began, the love story that is all our own and so uniquely us.