Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Communication Breakdown (12/16/10)
TITLE: The Non-Engagement Engagement
By Leola Ogle
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He and Connie had been neighbors of Diane and her widowed mother, Martha, for twenty years. Both mother and daughter were sweet, church-going ladies. They had a friendly, neighborly relationship, with Bill helping out with anything that needed a man’s touch.
Diane was 37 years old and still single. Bill and Connie were aware that all Diane had ever wanted was to marry and have children, but that just hadn’t happened. Connie had frequently said “Diane is so pretty. If she’d drop some weight (she weighs 300 pounds), she could have any man she wanted.” Bill wanted to tell Connie that some man would be lucky to have Diane, and weight shouldn’t matter.
Two years ago Connie had left Bill for another man, taking their daughter. He was devastated, losing his job because he was an emotional wreck. Diane and Martha had reached out to him, inviting him to dinner, encouraging him, even sending their pastor to pray with him. Their kindness really helped pull him through that dark time. He bounced back, got another good job, saw his daughter on the weekends…and continued to hang out at Diane and Martha’s, enjoying their home cooked meals.
He and Diane, both avid Phoenix Suns’ fans, would watch games together. He wasn’t sure how it began, but they started going to movies or out to eat. It certainly wasn’t dating because they each paid their own way.
He hardly noticed how frequently Diane mentioned that she wanted to get married. Shucks, he knew that already. He wasn’t exactly sure when she started sitting right next to him while they watched television. It was her house, after all, and she could sit where she pleased, right? He wasn’t even suspicious when Martha began leaving them alone all the time either.
He loved attending the Singles’ Group at church with Diane. He really enjoyed the fellowship and bible studies. He’d even scoped out a few possible prospects - you know, in case he got the urge to start dating.
Diane tearfully told him “I’ve almost given up on ever marrying and having babies.” He’d started to tell her what Connie had said about losing weight, thinking it just might help her. All he managed to say was “You’re so pretty,” when she blushed, thanking him profusely, so he didn’t have the heart to finish the sentence. Just saying she’s pretty in no way indicates an impending marriage proposal, does it? How Diane ever got the idea he was going to propose to her was beyond him. Just because she’d asked him several times if he thought he’d marry again and have more children, and he’d answered “sure,” that was not a declaration that he was thinking of marrying her.
Of course there was that time they were together in Wal-Mart. He wandered over to the jewelry department – it was right next to women’s lingerie, where he felt awkward, to say the least, to be hanging out with her. He was contemplating hocking his wedding band and was curious about current prices. Just because she coyly asked what he was doing, and he replied “pricing rings,” why did she assume that meant he was buying one for her?
He never said he loved her either, despite what she claimed. They were eating dinner one night, watching a Suns’ game. Absorbed in the game, he was startled when he swore she whispered “I love you” to him. He nervously glanced at her, but she was delving into her dinner, so he was sure she must’ve said “I love food.” He smiled and said “Me too.”
The clincher, according to her, was when he kept telling her that he had a surprise Christmas gift for her - something she had always wanted. Well, she’d never been to an actual Suns’ game before, and was forever saying how she’d love to attend one, so when a friend gave him tickets to a Suns-Lakers game, he decided to take her for Christmas. Was it his fault she thought the surprise gift was an engagement ring?
So here he was all alone at the Suns-Lakers game, befuddled, begging God’s help in gently breaking it to Diane that there would be no proposal, no engagement!
How had he gotten into this mess anyway?
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