The most important gift I’ve ever given was the engagement watch that I gave my husband asking him to marry me. It wasn’t wrapped in a Tokki because Tokki wasn't even a glint in my eye back then. BUT these ideas are linked because asking him to marry me was the first meaningfully entrepreneurial act of my life.
Proposing to Burton was an act of hope and confidence that we could build a “we” that was different from any partnership I had witnessed or could imagine up until then.
Also, if I’m being honest, one of the main reasons I did the asking is that I HATE waiting around. For pretty much anything, never mind something this good and important. A truth this big required immediate living.
In retrospect, I can see that, like most sane people who “pop the question,” I knew what the answer would be before I asked because he had done all the groundwork of making that clear to me. In most cases today, it’s the woman who provides the security of serving up the idea of a life together. Then we typically let the guy swoop in for the final glory of asking the question she’s so comprehensively de-risked.
Not me! I’m the swoop-in-er and the glory taker.
To commemorate the occasion, I maxed out my credit card to buy a gold Baume & Mercier watch that I asked to have engraved with the simple words, “Marry me” – no punctuation.
The all-male staff at the Greenwich Connecticut jewelry store I poured my future life savings into fell apart over my engraving request. “No question mark?” they tsk tsked. More ominously: “Maybe you should do it on a post-it, then we can take the watch back for a full refund if he says no.” In the history of men buying engagement rings I wonder how often the jeweler proactively offers a return plan.
Even though this was SO long ago that Sex and the City hadn’t yet launched, and Berger hadn’t yet broken up with Carrie via post-it, I still intuited that major life events were better communicated via channels other than sticky yellow paper. (Today, I’m open to the idea of a personalized QR code however…).
For our proposal dinner I served Korean and Southern barbeque, together on a plate. I picked both up from nearby restaurants, foreshadowing both our union and future decades of family dinners cooked outside the home. Although I later learned that the Southern barbeque I served was offensively NOT North Carolinian (the famous pulled pork style), he still said “yes.” His expression as he opened the box said, “of course you did;” a deep knowledge lightly carried.
While I successfully prevailed upon the watch shop owner to engrave the &*S% watch already, to this day I’m convinced that he engraved it very lightly because most of the letters have rubbed off. Burton says that in some lights, it looks like the watch now reads, “Mar me”, which he thinks is more appropriate anyway.
It’s been 23 years of marriage, and I’ve been grateful (almost) every day since. I hope he made/wrote me something good, and that he wrapped it in a Tokki.