What had her old dad a touch edgy was that her boyfriend, whom she met here and followed out to Portland, would be with her. And while he was going home to Pensacola for the week, I couldn't help entertaining a premonition that they may have an announcement for us while they were here. The thought set my emotions bouncing. One moment my heart was leaping with joy for her, and the next my eyes are filled with tears, and I suppose those are for me.
Now, I'm sending in my application for a guest appearance on the Psychic Network.
Abby and her boyfriend, Neil, appeared at our door on Tuesday morning after their flight from Portland, and no more than three minutes after hugs and handshakes she said, "Neil and I have some news." She held out her left hand to show us a ring. "We're getting married."
She was radiant as she said it. Neil stood there with a goofy look on
face. Over the ages that same scene has probably been enacted in millions
of households, from cave to suburban bungalow. Norman Rockwell probably
painted it. But it sure was a singular moment for us (even with my
More hugs and handshakes, then Neil and I stood there (we were all rooted
to the spot in a real-life freeze frame), both looking goofy, I'm sure, while mother and daughter launched into what I expect will be a long season of wedding talk.
They paused. I saw my chance. We knew the "who" and the "what." "When
this happen?" I asked.
"Last night," Abby said.
Neil edged in. "At the airport in Portland," he said.
He had bought the ring last week, he told us, and planned to give it to her during what he wanted to be a romantic dinner at their favorite restaurant in New Orleans. He was carrying it in his pocket when he went through the metal detector. It set off the buzzer and red light.
He emptied his pockets of everything but the ring box and went through again. Again, the alarm sounded.
"Wha'cha got there?" he quoted the guard as asking. Neil (in a whisper): "An engagement ring."
Guard (in a commanding voice): "Gotta see it."
Neil (sotto voce, through clenched teeth): "But it's an engagement ring.
The guard held out his hand.
Neil tried to position himself so Abby, who had passed the security
station ahead of him, wouldn't see what he was doing when he gave the box
to the guard. The guard took it, but the handoff was badly timed. The box
squirted out of the guard's hand and into the air. Both men juggled it,
but couldn't catch it. It landed on the conveyor belt of the X-ray
machine. The attendant tried to grab it, but she fumbled it and it bounced
back onto the conveyer belt. Finally, the guard retrieved it. He handed it back to Neil and gave him the go-ahead.
Neil was crestfallen. He was sure Abby had seen the whole episode (she swears she hadn't).
"I guess I'm busted," he told her. He led her to a quiet corner of the waiting room where he slipped the ring on her finger.
So much for romance. But won't that be a wonderful, memorable story for them to tell their children and grandchildren? (If you want to know how many of each they're going to have you'll just have to wait until they appear. Or you can tune in to my appearance on the Psychic Network).