White Picket Dreams
It was the moment I’d been dreaming about for twenty-three years. Perched on one knee, in front of the draped table and all the other patrons at the Red Lion Restaurant, holding out a ring, was a man who was willing to walk by my side the rest of our natural lives.
And I ruined it. I said, “I - I - I’ve got to think about it!”
Well! It was kind of hard to get back the equilibrium of the evening after that. Dinner was pretty much over before it started, which was a shame since the Red Lion Restaurant was one I didn’t get to very often, it being clear out Wilshireville. Granny had taken me there twice in my entire lifetime and I was looking forward to a fancy meal when Ernie suggested we go there. Of course, I didn’t know he had the foolish idea of proposing while there.
The problem wasn’t the proposal. Goodness knows, I’ve been wanting to get married nearly all my life! I’ve always had what I call the “White Picket Fence” dream. I want a husband who’ll work all day, come home nightly, a passel of children, and house with a white picket fence outside. The problem was with the one doing the proposing.
And truly, it isn’t that I dislike Ernie. He’s been sniffing around awhile. He’s a good man. This last year I guess we’d even started what you might call “dating.” Well, apparently Ernie thought it was a whole lot more than that -- hence, the ring at the Red Lion. But I just can’t see Ernie being the one who comes home to my house with the picket fence every night. He kissed me once, and between you and me, it was like smacking lips with a fish! I’m looking for a little “sizzle” between me and the man I eventually marry.
I’m not a romantic fool. I know there’s a whole lot more to love than the excitement. Granny has drilled that into my head since she started raising me when I was five. She tells me, “You find a good, Christian man, Cannie. You want one that’s going to work hard and stick around and raise your babies. Look for substance!” I don’t have to look any further than my own parents. They had enough “sizzle” to make me but it burned out by the time I was born. I never knew my daddy and my mother left me with Granny when she took off for parts unknown. But still…I can’t help but think that marrying a man who makes my heart jump a bit might help when those hard times come. And Granny promises me those times will come. That’s why she likes Ernie so much. I think she likes him more than I do.
With a stilted, “I’ll call you, later, Cannie,” Ernie dropped me off in front of Granny’s house. With a sigh, I started up the walkway. I debated about not telling Granny about the Red Lion debacle. But I rejected that idea just as quickly as I thought it. Our little town has eyes and ears everywhere and I’m sure that if I don’t tell Granny, someone else will. No doubt, I’ll be the subject of conversations everywhere tomorrow. I grimace at the thought.
I push open the door. Granny sees me and quickly lowers the volume on the television. It’s a sure sign of how much she loves me when she’s willing to miss part of her beloved evening sitcoms. “Well, how did it go?” she demands.
So I tell her. “The thing is, Granny,” I explain, “I can probably have my White Picket Dream with Ernie. And there might not be anyone else coming along, so if I say no to Ernie, I might never get my dream at all.”
Granny nods, listening. Then, uncharacteristically, she hobbles to her feet and gives me a hug. “Cannie, Girl” she says, “Don’t you know? Don’t you know that if you have to think about a man‘s marriage proposal, then he’s not the one for you?”
I smile as my confusion clears. Granny is right. Perfect as he may be, Ernie’s not the man to make my White Picket Dream happen. I’ll just wait for now. But someday, someone’s gonna come along who’ll make me sizzle. And I won’t have to think twice when he suggests we get married. And then together, we’ll build our White Picket Dream.
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