“9:36pm I asked for her hand”
I have been trying to be a bit more frugal Fran with my spending habits so I’m opting for the streetcar a lot more these days. You hear, see and smell all sorts on the streetcar. People plotting breakups, people hashing out business ideas, the odd fellow who is really just looking for a fight with anyone who would oblige and ah, the sometimes pungent, sometimes faint, but always present; smell of urine and cigarettes that clings to the inside of your nostrils long after you’re off the streetcar.
It’s virtually impossible not to eavesdrop on some conversations. I never really intend to overhear things but when the conversation is happening right by your neck or like today, right behind my neck, straight into my bun, it’s reeeally hard not to hear. Now for some context, I only heard one side of this phone conversation so I will embellish a little to complete the story in my mind.
He picks up the phone, it seems to have gone straight to voicemail. He says “Hey, I’m calling to ask for your hand”. “I know you’re probably asleep, it’s 9:36, I just want to ask for your hand”. That’s it. The conversation ends. He whispers to himself, “9:36pm, I asked for her hand”.
So naturally, as any normal person would (I think), I build up a couple stories to buttress this limited conversation. Story 1 and my personal default tale; he just worked up the courage to ask her to marry him. Now it doesn’t bode well in my fairytale that he did this over the phone when he knew she’d be asleep. If you’re so scared to ask her, are you sure it’s really the right move? But then, it could just be what a modern romance looks like; boy and girl play like tag on Instagram, he slides into her DM’s or maybe she slides into his and then a few months later he is so overwhelmed with love (or some equally compelling emotion) for her that he decides she is the one with whom he should go the distance. He’s on his way to her place and decides that just in case his nerves fail him when he beholds her ethereal “just woke up, what are you doing at my door” face, he will leave her a voicemail so she at least knows his intent. A perfectly logical move. Who’s to say that this isn’t the evolution of love?
My second story was far more sinister. Did he want her actual hand? I’ve only seen Silence of the Lambs once but it was enough for me to know that life might not be as easy breezy as Lauryn Hill’s voice on a summer drive. What if he was on his way to her house, stalking her, to collect her perfectly manicured hand!! I stole a glance to see if he looked like someone who might be better suited for the first story but from the salt and pepper beard and weathered eyes, I strongly doubted he would be sliding into any DM’s. Certainly not intentionally. I however refuted this sordid tale because I still like to believe there is good in this world.
This brings me to my final tale. He’s been married a few times. He’s always believed in love but with each failed marriage that belief has been marred with questions. Will he ever find that one true love? Is that fairy tale love for someone like him? Then he met her. They were both volunteering at a soup kitchen one afternoon and conversations about the weather evolved into conversations about faith and futures. The more they talked the clearer it became what people mean when they say “meant to be”. So he’s on his way home; to the home he hopes will soon be warmed by her scent, and on this crowded streetcar he has one singular thought; I have to ask for her hand. Unable to wait a moment more, he calls her and proposes. Her answer right now is almost inconsequential because no matter what she says, his faith in love is restored. She calls him back the next morning, hands shaking, almost unsure if this is a dream
she says yes.