James Merloni, 28, and Lorraine Stocker,
26, had been happily dating for 19 months. For Valentines Day, James rented
the biggest billboard on Main Street, which said, "Lorraine, Will you
marry me? - James." The ecstatic Lorraine called James the moment she
They got married at the Happy Hills Chapel of Peace and Joy and Love and Matrimony. They honeymooned on the island of Oahu. He was almost stung by a jellyfish. She almost choked on a crab cake. Years later, they could look back and laugh.
James became a successful financial planner. Lorraine worked as an athletic trainer until she gave birth to three adorable children, Jimmy Jr., Louie and Melody. He retired at age 50 as a millionaire. They watched as their children attended Harvard, Yale and the New York Conservatory of Music. When they were 60, they had a total of seven grandchildren. James Merloni and the former Lorraine Stocker grew old together, and they were happy.
This story is not about them.
James Planter and Lorraine Kittles had
dated a turbulent four months. James had told her that he had a romantic
surprize waiting for her on this Valentine's Day. He had fixed a candlelight
dinner for her and was willing to sit through "Bridges of Madison County"
with her. As she drove to her apartment, she happened to see the biggest
billboard on Main Street. James was tossing a salad when Lorraine burst
through the door and jubilantly exclaimed, "Yes! Yes! Yes!"
James knew his tossed salad couldn't be that exciting and quizzically asked, "Yes to what?"
"Yes, I WILL marry you!"
James realized that whatever proceeded forth from his mouth would be the wrong thing to proceed forth from his mouth at the moment, but tried it anyway. "Why would you want to marry me?'"
"The big billboard. That one on Main street."
"Oh, that billboard. Yes." James soon relized that this would be the worst day of his life. He had prepared a short list of about a dozen girls who he would be willing to marry. Lorraine failed to make the final cut. He was still going to do the best he could to save face. "Would you like some filet mignon?"
Over dinner, Lorraine asked, "So where's my ring?
"The engagement ring my little apple dumplin' !"
At this point, most men would have run out of the room crying. James, however, had a most fortunate backup.
Grandfather Planter had proposed to his future bride in 1910 with an exquisite 3 carat diamond engagement ring. After Grandma passed on, the ring was handed down to James to use at the appropriate moment. This wasn't the appropriate moment, but the ring was going to be used. For the time being, they were engaged.
It wouldn't last. 5 months, 20 fights, 17 stitches, two broken noses and a car-bomb later, the engagement was broken off.
James never intended to wed - at least not with this girl. He could never find the fight time to say, "We should stop seeing each other."
On one particular night, it was rather difficult. Cindy called. She was lonely. She wanted a date. 98 percent of the time, James would have accepted a date from this woman, but at the moment he and Lorraine were choosing a china pattern.
James had wanted to date Cindy for years. Ever since he had seen her in Sophomore French class, he wanted to date her, but he never could. All through high school, Cindy dated Bubba, the 3 year starting linebacker on the high school football team. When she went to a different college, he lost all contact with her but not all the feelings. Cindy was a woman on the "short list."
Then, the phone call. He couldn't say yes to the one he loved when his fiancee was in the room. He couldn't ask for a phone number. He couldn't even provide a good reason for her to call him back. He stayed up that night wondering how he could be engaged to the girl he never proposed to.
James finally had to break the bad news to his girl on July 4. "Do you see how the red fireworks are shot to the left and the white fireworks are shot to the right? I believe that represents us."
"Those red ones - they are propelled to the left. And the white ones they're propelled in the opposite direction. That's us!"
"I have no clue what you're talking about, honey biscuit."
"Them red ones are going one way. The white ones are going the other way. So should we!"
"I still have no clue what you're talking about, gravy lump."
He screamed, "I'm dumping you! I'm levaing you! I'm ditching you! . I don't want to date you anymore! Get out of my dating life! Goodbye!"
Everyone in a ten row radius turned to look at the two.
Lorraine said a few things inappropriate for a family-oriented story, slapped him and ran off crying, never to be seen again.
...Until she realized that he drove and she didn't know how to get home. After the relatively less interesting fireworks (the ones in the sky) were over, James drove her home. She cried for fifty strait hours, pausing breifly only to eat and gossip over the phone with her girl friends.
The next meeting between the two was three days after the incident. She informed him that she had pawned the ring. "I got two-thousand dollars in cash and this wonderful pistol," which she promptly showed him. He deduced it was not wise to complain about selling an irreplacable family heirloom to a pawn shop.
James knew his dad would kill him if he lost grandma's precious ring. The next day, James sold his car at a dealership for twenty-two hundred dollars - Just enough to buy back the ring.
As he took the bus home, he decided to stop for dinner at Cosmic Burgers (known to some as the Unidentified Frying Objects, but that's beside the point). While there, he saw Fiona. He's had an interest in her ever since she enrolled in his college Biology class. She was on the "short list." He then asked her on a date.
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