The Paradox Proposal

Jean thought dating Todd required a PHD in contrarian. Despite their seven years as a couple, she still found herself constantly shaking her head like a bobble-head doll about their relationship.

He complained he missed her when she worked late, but claimed he wanted space so he could go out with friends. Weekend getaways were allowed, but weekly trips met with a disapproving nod and bug-eyed gleam, like a victim in a horror movie right before the ax.

His actions were always strange and she never knew where she stood. At first, she thought he was a commitmentphob, but then he offered to have her move into his apartment.

Then she suspected he was a male chauvinist and control freak, an uncomfortable supposition, but his verbal advocacy for women’s equality and rights felt genuine to her.

But in spite of her confusion, she loved him and enjoyed his company. No matter what he did or didn’t do, he kept her in stitches. After growing up in a strict military family that always appeared to be a constant rerun of a lifeless black and white 50’s TV show, she appreciated his refreshing offbeat sense of humor.

The first time she met him was at a Starbucks counter. With a complete deadpan robot face, he ordered the most ridiculous coffee. “I’ll have a trente espresso plain black coffee with whip and a caramel shot, but please no sugar in anything, as I’m diabetic.”

The poor confused barista looked at him like he was an alien. And when she tried to get the order straight, he kept changing it, doubling down on the absurdity and raising the ante with every outlandish contradictory request.

Jean didn’t know why he did it and felt terrible for the barista, but it made her smile and giggle on a gloomy day. From then on, no matter what nonsense he uttered, it made her laugh.

Lately though, she began to feel like the bewildered barista – she couldn’t understand what he wanted from life and from their relationship. And with the loud tick of her biological clock haunting her mind like the heartbeat in The Tell Tale Heart, she needed to know where they were going. Ultimatums, however, would be counterproductive, she thought. So she cleverly devised a rouse to reveal his real intentions.

She hosted a couple’s game night with a series of games that would give him so many obvious hints, a virtual pie would be thrown in his face. Recruiting her girlfriends in the deception, they rigged the web to catch their fly.

At Pictionary, the clues would require him to either draw or guess a ring, a bouquet and a tuxedo. A true competitor, he guessed them correctly, but didn’t remark about the connection—even though everyone’s answers were wedding or marriage related. Even the Charades prompts of wedding movies, TV shows and songs escaped his attention.

Her failure required a girlfriends’ huddle in the kitchen to engage a new battle strategy and get more wine.

“Does this guy need a building needed to fall on him,” her friend Josie said, pouring more wine in her glass.

“Even my idiot husband got the hint,” Carole laughed. “My ribs are sore from all the elbow jabs he’s giving me.”

“I don’t know what more I can do,” Jean said frustrated. “ He’s a sucker for joke set ups and this has been the motherload, but nothing. Either he’s choosing to ignore them or he’s as dense as a block of wood.”

Without a new idea amongst them, they played a little more and then decided to call it an early night.

After everyone left, Jean cleaned the kitchen while Todd picked up the living room. As she rinsed the many wine glasses, he came into the room laughing.

“Here comes the bride,” he sang and marched in, holding the paper clue slips like a bridal bouquet.  “Very sneaky, but I don’t know if Ron knew what hit him.”

Jean stopped her cleaning and stared at him in disbelief. “Ron?”

“Yeah, you were trying to get him to propose to Megan, right?” he asked smiling.

Frozen in place as though her feet were bound in ice, Jean was dumbfounded. He picked up on the theme, but mistakenly directed it toward Ron. He and Megan were only together for a year. How could he misunderstand? She suddenly heard the taunting sound of a neverending carousel and snapped.

“Not Ron…you! It was meant for you!”

Like a calculator in his head, he stood there, adding it all up.

“I’m sorry, honey. I can be dense, sometimes. I guess you called my hand and I need to pitch a no hitter or throw for the touchdown. I have to give it to you – drawing into an inside straight. Good night.” He kissed her and smiled, walking out of the room and leaving Jean puzzled. She rewound and replayed his words over and over.

“Was that his idea of a proposal? I heard a lot of sports metaphors. He said touchdown, but then he said no hitter. Both win the game, right? Then there was a poker reference, I think. Maybe he was agreeing to propose? Oh, who knows.” She threw the towel in the sink and grabbed a partially full bottle of white wine.

“Maybe it will make sense in the morning,” she raised the bottle, toasting the door. “Thanks Todd Hamlet… to marry or not to marry—that is both the question, paradox and my love life all wrapped up in one dramatic tale.”

Dear Reader: In my weekly writing group, we have prompts and writing exercises. This one was an example of use of similies and metaphors as descriptors. See if you can spot them. I went a little heavy, pretty easy.

Published by suzanneruddhamilton

I write anything from novels and children's books to plays to relate and retell everyday life experiences in a fun-filled read with heart, hope and humor. A former journalist and real estate marketing expert, I am a transplant from Chicago, now happily living in southwest Florida to keep warm and sunny all year round. You can find me at

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