Friday, March 16, 2012

Six Things to Propose With Instead of Rings

Being a senior at a college (especially a Christian college), I am not a stranger to the idea of "ring before spring," which is exactly what it sounds like. I can't blink without running into another couple now preparing for a wedding two days after graduation.

However, the thing that really gets me is that rings are so boring. Professional jewelry has sharp, soulless edges that get caught on sweaters. And if you're anything like me, any ring on my fingers tends to migrate during the day to every other digit, whether it fits or not. Plus, they can fall off, or be taken off for some innocuous reason and then forgotten. And let's not forget the story that pops up every week in the news about how some poor schmuck's ring was dropped into rock/eaten by poodles/lost down the garbage disposal.

Obvious solution? Propose with something else.

1. A necklace. If you are so fixated on the idea of jewelry that you have nothing more original to do, at least consider that necklaces have more design potential, and they can have larger designs. If you really want to get the message across, get one of those personalized word necklaces with the word "ENGAGED" on it.

If you feel that that it doesn't quite convey all the meaning a traditional ring might, add a few more words so that you can capture it exactly, like "NOW ENGAGED" or "GETTING MARRIED LOOK AT MY BLING." If you find a talented wire jewelry artist, you might be able to forgo the necklace altogether and have your entire love story turned into chain mail.

2. Books. Why wait until you're married to start that family Bible? Give her a giant 20-pound leather-bound monstrosity with your genealogies already written in! If that doesn't symbolize commitment, nothing does.

If that doesn't suit your taste, find a nice edition of something that symbolizes your relationship. Pride and Prejudice to remind each other how much you totally hated each other at first! Twilight because of all the Facebook stalking you did before getting together! The Metamorphosis to prepare for the day when you wake up with a giant cockroach in bed with you! (Recommended for couples who live in Hawaii.)

3. Marbles. Perfect for artistic couples, this engagement gift will be an ongoing and live demonstration of your life together. Once you both exchange marbles, it won't matter how hard you try to keep track of them. They'll be spilled, stepped on, and ultimately lost. If this catches on, retirement homes can have competitions wherein residents can boast of how many marbles they haven't lost after X years of marriage!

4. Glitter. If you are still stuck on the idea of something shiny, choose glitter. Dump a couple gallons on both of you: it won't come off completely for a while, and you'll be shiny like a diamond without spending thousands of dollars!

Bonus: this automatically decorates your engagement spot for use in the engagement photos you'll spam Facebook with (outdoor proposals recommended).

5. Kittens. Inanimate objects are all well and good, but you're proposing that the two of you spend your life together--and people can be a lot harder to get along with than hunks of rock. Plus, what if you have kids? The best way to address this in your initial proposal is by giving him a kitten.

Similar to how you can tell a lot about a person by seeing how he treats waitstaff and retail clerks, you can tell a lot about how your beloved will be to live with by looking at this kitten. If it is starving, missing limbs, or dead, you might want to reconsider. And call the animal cops, which should also satisfy your post-breakup need for nasty things to happen.

If that doesn't happen, either you'll each have a cat to add to your family leading to hours of cuddling and entertainment, or since the cats have a good chance of outlasting your marriage, a built-in purr-machine to assuage your broken soul!

6. Teacups. This is what you're looking for in an engagement symbol. Elegant. Traditional. Comes in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. Has a practical purpose, but is easily put on display. Perfect for use in both the wedding and anniversary celebrations!You don't have to mortgage your house to buy a nice one. And since it has a handle, if you really want to, you can wear it on your finger. If you were crazy.
Engagement teacups: best idea, or bestest idea?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Crushing Your Hawaiian Paradise

Being an Air Force brat (the term of choice for most kids of military families), I grew up living in radically different parts of the world. This is now something people find cool, because I spend most of my time with people who have moved maybe twice in their life and have never left the continental U.S. for any reason (my mind, it boggles). And they always give more attention to some of my previous places of residence than others: Arizona? No one cares about Arizona. But when people find out I've lived in Hawaii, they almost always respond along these lines: 
Oh, how cool! I've always wanted to go to Hawaii! Didn't you love it?
To which I reply along these lines:
Actually, it's really crowded--especially Waikiki, which has no waves and kinda icky water--and the traffic is horrible and potholes are everywhere, everything is super-expensive and did I mention it's crowded? And also there are giant flying cockroaches. Everywhere.
And then they look at me like I'm the biggest jerk ever for crushing their dreams of an island paradise, so I quickly add:
But other than that, it's cool.
One of these days, I'm going to try just saying "no, I didn't," and see if I get the same reaction.

When I originally typed this, I wrote: "I don't know why my first instinct is to come off as a total jerk." And then I realized that was a lie. I know why: because it's all true.

Because my family was coming from Germany where we could drive a few hours and reach several other countries, and were suddenly confined to a tiny island that took 45 minutes to drive from north to south. Because not only did we suddenly lose cultural things common in Germany, but prices on basics like milk shot up because everything had to be imported. Because when you live somewhere it gets really annoying for everyone to assume you're a tourist there for a week. Because cockroaches as are common as flies and it doesn't matter how clean everything is, they'll still be there. Because the twenty-three months I lived there (but who's counting?) were some of the worst of my life.

Comparatively. I've had a really awesome life.

At any rate, I find myself these days wishing to return for an extended stay, part of this post-military-life nostalgia for a time when I lived not in the continental U.S. and was too young to appreciate everything. You'd think that spending the summer in Germany again would help alleviate that, but it really just made it worse.

Hawaii is part of that. Yes, everything was expensive. Yes, tourists were everywhere. Yes, the traffic is the worst, I've seen enough 70-year olds in thongs to go blind, and the cockroaches flew in formation around my head taunting me. But its reputation as a good vacation spot is mostly deserved.

The Polynesian Cultural Center is interactive, informative, and fun--and I had almost mastered the New Zealand poi balls as a way to incapacitate my sisters before we left (the fact that they were made of tissues notwithstanding). The North Shore had some gorgeous spots for boogie-boarding, my sport of choice because of my complete inability to stand on a board without killing myself and everyone within a ten-foot radius. And if you've been in the water from a young age like I have, having easy access to lots of beaches is a plus.

This is exactly what I walked across. Except not on fire.
The Big Island (Hawaii) has active volcanoes and it's surprisingly fun to hike over a former lava flow (down by your kneecaps, enjoy the former-parking-lot-sign that says "CAUTION: SPEED BUMP AHEAD). Kauai has...well, I don't remember what Kauai has, but it didn't kill me so we'll assume I enjoyed it. These other islands are also distinctly less crowded than Oahu, home of Honolulu and Waikiki and probably everything else you associate with Hawaii (except for live volcanoes).

So the next time someone starts gushing about the tropical paradise they envisioned I lived in, I'll just smile, nod and back away slowly, and tell them how great it is to hike over lava fields and go scuba diving.

But not Waikiki. I have to draw a line somewhere.
 And I draw it here. Thanks, Waikiki, for all the images I never wanted.


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