Yes or No

Posted on: September 23, 2013

Should I still do it?

Look at her over there, seething.

Fuck! I knew this was a stupid idea. When in the course of our three years of courtship has she EVER mentioned horseback riding? When have I ever wanted to go horseback riding!?

Fucking Hollywood. Fucking Facebook. Fucking anyone who made me believe this had to be some fairytale scene.

Does she know? She has to know. She knows my palms haven’t stopped sweating since we woke up this morning. She knows I haven’t been this quiet since our first date. She knows I HAVE NO FUCKING INTEREST IN HORSEBACK RIDING.

The heat. The snakes. The minefield of shit all over these stables. HOW ROMANTIC.

JESUS. We haven’t fought like this since we thought I knocked her up.

I should wait.

Should I wait?

What if getting down on one knee is the only thing that could save this shitty day? Is a proposal powerful enough to make us look back on this string of mishaps with a sense of humor?

Maybe years from now we’ll gleefully sit our grandkids on our laps and tell them how Grandma realized she forgot to bring her special vitamin thirty minutes into our drive, leaving Grandpa no choice but to turn the car around. God knows he wasn’t going to let her do that again.

We’ll tell them how we lost phone reception and driving directions on the way, making us TWO HOURS late for our scheduled horse tour.

I’ll reenact the conversation between me and the inconvenienced cowboy who was “ten seconds from packin it in for the day.”

Grandma will take it from there, describing my total lack of horseback-riding skills, in painfully accurate details.

I’ll claim she’s exaggerating, but she won’t be.

She’ll DEFINITELY mention the look on my face when our trail guide pointed out the first of THREE rattlesnakes we saw that day.

I’ll get my revenge by telling them how she and her stubborn steed capsized while fording the creek, leaving her soaked from head to toe for the rest of the ride.

She’ll shoot me a playful glare and accuse me of spooking her horse with the high-pitched squeal I let out after seeing a very snake-like stick in the water.

I’ll insist it was a snake, but it will be too late. The laughter will already be at my expense.

We’ll find a common enemy in the catered lunch of baked beans and beef jerky, which, aside from its authenticity, added nothing to the experience or our stomachs. I’ll brag about suffering through an entire bite, and she’ll remind me how that one bite gave me violent diarrhea.

“NO,” I’ll yell before the giggle fits begin. “I just told you that so I could have a little time to myself.”

Then I’ll retell this moment. Me, hiding at the other end of the barn, working up the courage to ask for her hand in marriage. Her, staring into the wilderness, wishing we never met.

She’ll say I’m certifiably insane and rehash what was really going through her head at that moment.

I’ll listen intently, hoping to hear a genuine answer to the question I’ll have hounded her about throughout the course of our entire marriage.

She’ll either stick to her guns and give some light-hearted answer like, “I was thinking this diamond better be worth it,” or she’ll put tears in the eyes of everyone within earshot by saying something sweet like, “I was thinking how the worst thing about that day were the few times he wasn’t standing by my side.”

OR, this entire conversation will never take place because she’ll think this poor excuse for a proposal is an indication of how much I truly know her and she’ll leave me for a “better listener.”

No. That’s not possible. She’s shot down plenty of opportunities to turn me into a distant memory.

No one would’ve blamed her if she called it quits after she accepted that job offer half a state away.

She would’ve had every right to say goodbye once and for all after the way I overreacted about our pregnancy scare.

And I know of at least three members of her inner circle who would revel in the opportunity to do an I-told-you-so dance.

But she hasn’t taken the bait. She’s never even threatened it. Not once. There’s no way THIS will be the final straw.

She has to know that despite this terrible attempt at a grand gesture, my heart was in the right place.

Like that time I tried to cheer her up at her granddad’s funeral by making fun of the mortician’s makeup job.

Or that time I tried to make the distance between us easier by giving her a vibrator.

Or the card I gave her after we dodged the baby bullet, that read:

“Knock, knock.”

“Who’s there?”


“Mama who?”

“I don’t know, but it’s NOT YOU!”

Damn. Why HASN’T she left me?

Wrong question.

Will you marry me?

That’s what I need to be asking. Whatever motivates her to say yes is irrelevant.

All that matters right here, right now is that I know for a fact I want to spend the rest of my life with this lovely, loving and continuously forgiving female.

I want to feel her fist bore into my shoulder when I tell her I genuinely thought she might say no. I want to hear her laugh on the way home when she teases me about my serpent intolerance. I want to smell her shampoo wafting from the shower curtain as she aggressively scrubs the creek water out of her hair. And I want to go through this entire emotional cycle a thousand times over until one of us ends up on the wrong end of a mortician’s makeup kit.



“Will you look at me?”





“Because I’m still mad at you!”

“I think I may be able to cheer you up.”


“Turn around.”

Written by: Mark Killian
Photograph by: Emily Blincoe

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