VIII. Shauna and I become engaged--for real.
That night I got no sleep. It seemed to me that I was locked in a nightmare. "I thought I knew her so well, and then she does this to me." I thought as I tossed and turned. "It just goes to show you that no matter how well you think you know a person, they are likely to surprise you--especially at some crucial juncture of your life, like when you are proposing marriage."
I agonized over the whole situation all night, or at least, until early in the morning. Just before time to get up, the solution finally came to me--break the engagement.
I, of course, had heard of broken engagements. I had even had roommates who had broken their engagements. In fact, I had one roommate, (admittedly he was a bit strange) who broke three engagements in as many weeks (actually it was his finances who broke the engagements when they realized how strange he was). But in telling about him, I digress. The point was, people do break engagements. This it seemed to me was the perfect solution. Indeed, it was the only solution. I wondered why I hadn’t thought of it sooner. But, or course, under the tremendous strain occasioned by Shauna’s absolutely stunning (and, I thought, rather thoughtless) surprise acceptance of my proposal, the obvious solution had somehow eluded me. But with it firmly in mind, I slipped off into peaceful slumber for the few remaining minutes of night.
As is so often the case, what seems like a perfect solution to a terribly knotty problem when viewed from the perspective of the middle of the night in a sort of half-dream world, loses a good deal of its glamour when viewed in the cold hard light of day.
As mentioned above, I have personally known several men and women who had broken engagements. But it had not been easy for any of them. Furthermore, none of them that I know of had broken the engagement less than 24 hours after entering into it. But worst of all, I imagined what Shauna’s reaction might be. The worst case would be if she waxed tragic, like the end of an opera and went into the kitchen, took out a carving knife, and stabbed herself. Of course, worse still, would be if she stabbed me first. Almost as bad would be if she went into hysterics and began yelling, "You will hear from my lawyer!" As I thought of that scenario, I took some comfort from the fact that my father was a lawyer himself, but upon reflection, I realized that he was getting a bit impatient with my postponement of marriage, and might very well offer to represent Shauna in a breach of promise suit.
At any rate, no matter how I thought about it, the picture was not pretty. I decided that the very best I could hope for would be something like, "Well! I like that! One day you propose and the next day you change your mind. What kind of a jerk are you?" That, as I said, was the best I thought I could hope for. Worse were the responses described above and a dozen others, almost as bad, that I envisioned during the course of the day.
Finally, the moment of truth arrived. With a heavy heart and apprehensive demeanor, I went to Shauna’s apartment.
"How was your day?" she greeted me cheerfully as she opened the door.
"It had its ups and its downs," I responded trying to sound as gloomy as I felt.
"Oh, really. What were its ups and what were its downs?"
"Its ups were when I remembered that we were engaged and its downs were when I remembered that we were engaged."
The extremely perceptive reader will note that I was exaggerating, if not down right lying when I said that the day had its ups, but, I felt I had to say something that would soften the blow that was about to come. Having said that I broke into an impassioned appeal stating that being engaged so soon was too much for me. To my surprise--and delight--there was no blow to soften. Shauna just laughed. "Well, maybe it is a bit soon. If you want to date longer, that’s fine. Whatever you want."
It was at that moment that I decided I really did want to marry her--only not right away.
We resumed our previous dating pattern. For Easter, which came early--in March I believe--that year, Shauna went up with me to meet my sister, Loni and her family. Shauna found out about my bringing JoAnn up for Thanksgiving when my niece, Jenni, against the express orders of her mother, said, "I like you better than the girl he brought up at Thanksgiving."
I decided that if she could survive that, she could survive anything, so I asked her again to marry me. And again, she accepted. Except this time it was her turn to call up and change her mind--or so I thought. She says now that she merely wanted a more definite proposal, but whatever the case, once again, we were engaged for only one day.
We had resumed dating for only a couple of weeks when I noticed a large lump in a lymph node. The doctor said it was either tuberculosis, an abscessed tooth or cancer, since, he claimed, it was much too large to be due to bacteria. He sent me to the clinic for a TB test and to the dentist to check for an abscess--both of which I did with great promptness. And both came back negative. There followed a very agonizing week.
On the weekend I had a date with Shauna. Her old boyfriend, Herbie Ungricht, who was, by this time dating Shauna’s roommate, Yvonne, was waiting for his date on the couch. Since he was in his last year of med school, Shauna decided to get his semi-expert opinion on my condition. He felt my lump.
"Bad, very bad," he muttered. "I can’t say for sure if it is cancer, but if I were you, I wouldn’t start listening to any long playing records, or start reading any to-be-continued serials." On that cheery note, Shauna and I went on our date. I must confess to being greatly discouraged--not, of course, as discouraged as the night I first proposed to her--but greatly discouraged, nonetheless. I must also confess to being more than a little annoyed when the doctor announced that it turned out to be only a bacteria after all. He gave me an antibiotic and the lump disappeared the next day.
I was so relieved that I decided to celebrate, but rather starting to listen to a long playing record or reading a to-be-continued serial, I went over to Shauna’s apartment, and for the third time, asked her to marry me. This time it took.
A few days later it was my brother, Erin’s, graduation form BYU. Shauna and I along with my parents, my other brother, and my sister and their spouses had dinner and then went over to Erin’s apartment where everyone presented him with graduation trinkets. After that ritual, I blurted out that I had an announcement. I then reported our engagement. Immediately after making this announcement, Shauna and I left. As soon as we stepped out of the house, we heard and loud spontaneous, "Hurrah, finally."