Sooooooooo, a lot has happened since the last time I posted here. The Keeper and I were house hunting from, like, October to December last year. We found a place, bought it, painted it, moved in and we’ve been trying to get it furnished and organized for most of the year so far. Still not quite done with that last part. I’m in the middle of putting a stencil up on a wall in our dining/living room, which is WAY more time consuming than you might expect. Before that there was painting old furniture we got from The Keeper’s grandmother. And before that there was buying furniture. I still don’t have my office set up. But we’re getting there.
As the title of this post suggests, The Keeper proposed to me recently. And he did a damn good job, too. So, I’ve decided to set him forth as an example for anyone out there who is trying to figure out how to go about this, apparently, daunting task.
First, here’s how it all went down:
We were on vacation in the Outer Banks. The Keeper and I had talked before the trip about having a picnic on the beach one of the nights of our vacation. So earlier in the day we bought a picnic basket/cooler and some wine. Then in the evening we grabbed a couple Subway sandwiches, packed them into the cooler with the wine and a couple of plastic mason jar cups with twisty straws, and hauled everything out onto the beach.
We tried to pick a place that the was both less populated and close to where we’d crossed the dunes. We ended up close to where we’d entered the beach, but overrun by small children hunting for ghost crabs shortly after we’d spread our blanket out and sat down. We ate our sandwiches and drank our wine and muttered about how it would be nice to have an unobstructed view of the ocean instead of a wall of small children. Eventually the adults that were with the children either decided it was getting too late or realized they were bothering us and they shepherded the kids down the beach some.
We finished our wine, watched the ocean until it got dark enough to see stars, and then laid out on our blanket looking up at the sky. We both exclaimed about how bright the stars were with no city lights to compete with, and then The Keeper said, “Man, this would’ve been a really good time to propose.” And I sort of chuckled and replied, “Oh you just thought of that?” And he said, “Nope”, and pulled out the ring box.
And that was pretty much it. He asked the question, I answered, we chatted a bit. Then we went back to the house we had rented.
Now, here are the lessons you should be taking away from this story if you’re trying to figure out how to propose:
1- Unless your partner has specifically said that they want to be put on the spot in front of a huge crowd of people, don’t. An informal poll of all of our female friends, both married and unmarried, suggests that the way The Keeper went about things was perfect. Most people don’t want their answer to such a huge question to be waited upon and scrutinized by a huge group of strangers. Or a huge group of family and friends for that matter. So either find somewhere secluded to pop the question, or if you have to do it in the middle of a crowd somewhere do it in a way that won’t draw the attention of the people around you. That means that if you’re in a restaurant, don’t do that one knee bullshit.
2- Choose a special place. It can be somewhere you go together often and both really like, or somewhere that’s special because it’s new and you’re both excited to be there experiencing it for the first time together. Just try to pick a place that will be worthy of the memory later on. I’m not generally super mushy or sentimental, but I do want to be able to tell people about this event and if the setting had been something boring he would have had to work way harder on the delivery for it to be a good story.
3- Do what feels right for you and your relationship. If it feels right to write out and rehearse a speech beforehand, do that. If it feels better to just wing it when it comes to the words, that’s fine. If you want to go down on one knee, great. If not, that’s ok too. Just take the other two points into account. If the location you’ve chosen means that getting down on one knee will draw a bunch of attention and you don’t know if your partner is ok with that, then either pick a new location or don’t do the knee thing.
That’s it. It’s that easy to get it right. Unless you’re with one of those weirdos who want some outlandish, grand, attention seeking gesture. I don’t know what to tell you about those people.
A few years ago there was a site run by Alexandra Erin called 365 Tales. It was a place for people to post “flash fiction”, or super short stories. The main rule was each submission had to be 365 words or less. I posted a few things there before some catastrophe erased it from the interwebs and you can still find some of the site via Wayback Machine, but there was one story above all the rest. One story that got more feedback from the other posters on the site. One story that I was really, really proud of. That story, unfortunately, cannot be found on Wayback Machine and I didn’t ever save copies of the things I wrote for 365 Tales because I was a moron.
I tried a few times to re-create that story, but I was paralyzed by the fear of any second attempt being clearly inferior to the original. I’ve finally pushed through that fear and I think I’ve at least paid adequate tribute to the lost masterpiece I wrote for 365 Tales.
WARNING: THE NEXT 359 WORDS ARE GRAPHIC AND MAY BE DISTURBING TO SOME VIEWERS.
Marina pulled the robe around her a little tighter as she watched the rain through the broken windows of the abandoned warehouse. Behind her on the thin mattress her new toy was beginning to wake. Her toy’s eyes were opening when she turned around and it was just beginning to realize it was naked and bound.
Her toy stopped thrashing when it heard her approach. It’s eyes were wide with fear and anger as she stood over it. When she dropped her robe she saw lust begin to mix with the fear and anger. She stood allowing her toy to fully take in the sight of her curly red hair tumbling over her heavy, round breasts and the little tuft of red on her mound above the glistening, hard protrusion of her clit. The fear had disappeared from her toy’s eyes, and the anger was almost gone as well leaving only the lust. And when the lust had done it’s job, Marina sunk down to her knees straddling her toy’s hips as she slowly guided it’s hard cock inside her and began to ride.
Marina rocked back and forth on her toy slowly at first. Her fingers found her clit and she began thrusting her hips harder, head falling back and eyes closing as her orgasm began to build. She was getting close when the first noise of pleasure from her toy reached her ears. That would not do.
With her hips still thrusting Marina stretched back and found the knife. The blade bit into her toy’s inner thigh and it’s eyes flew open in confusion. Marina’s hips thrust and rocked more quickly as she ran the blade over her toy’s other thigh, eliciting an angry growl through the gag in her toy’s mouth. She slashed at her toy’s arms and chest and the growls turned to screams.
Marina ground her cunt down hard onto her toy’s cock, her body beginning to shake and shudder as she brought the knife across it’s throat. Warm, red ecstasy washed over her as she rode out the orgasm. Too soon she realized her toy had gone still. She had ruined another one.
I love tattoos. I’ve loved them for as long as I can remember. Every one is complex. Even if the design itself isn’t detailed or complicated and the person getting the tattoo has no deeper attachment to the design than that they think it’s pretty, there’s something incredibly personal and meaningful about the process of getting it. You’re choosing to actively seek out someone and have them permanently, and usually at least somewhat painfully, etch something into your flesh. It’s one of the more absurd things humans do, but it’s also beautiful.
I always wanted to get a tattoo, but for a long time I didn’t think it was possible. I couldn’t come up with a good design. Then I thought of a design, but I assumed I couldn’t afford to get it done. Not that I had any idea how much tattoos actually cost. Once or twice I thought I might have enough disposable income to try getting my tattoo, but I didn’t really know anyone who could recommend an artist. The idea of doing some research and finding an artist on my own was daunting. I would search around online and find shops in my area, but then become terrified I would settle on someone and get the tattoo and it would be completely wrong. So I kept putting it off.
Then on a trip down the The Keeper’s hometown I found out that one of The Keeper’s close family friends who he grew up with was going through the process to get certifications or licenses or whatever it is you need to be able to do tattooing professionally. We talked a bit and this guy’s passion for what he was doing was obvious. He seemed a little distracted and wobbly when it came to other topics, but anything having to do with tattoos or piercings made him immediately perk up and speak with incredible passion and intelligence. I had found my artist. I started thinking about designs again, hoping I might be able to save up.
Fast forward to holiday season 2013. The Keeper and I were in his hometown again doing the Christmas thing and we learn that My Artist was planning on opening his own tattoo shop! We hung out with him for a little bit and listened to him gush about this new venture. He already had a huge client base from the time he’d spent working in other shops and he was excited about the other artists he was going to bring in to work with him. He was bouncing off the walls and telling us that if we ever wanted a tattoo we would have priority, just walk in and he’d bump his other customers back to do our ink.
Now I was getting excited. I’d just got a new, better paying job. I had a savings account again for the first time in nearly over a decade. I could do this! I still hadn’t asked anyone at any point how much my tattoo would cost, but I figured it would definitely be a few hundred dollars. Tattoos are expensive right? So I went home with a plan to save up, email the shop once it was up and running, and set everything up then come back down totally prepared!
Well, despite being super passionate, My Artist isn’t the most orderly, organized business owner I’ve ever known. I was expecting to exchange emails and get the design hammered out, schedule an appointment and then drive down one weekend and get it done. That’s not how My Artist operates. I’m sure there are shops that do things that way, but not my shop. My Artist is more of a hands on, on the fly kind of guy. And he’s far more interested in the designing and poking-you-with-a-needle parts than with checking emails.
I had no idea what I should be expecting or how all of this was supposed to play out, so when my expectations didn’t line up with reality when it came to the communication and the whole process I got super anxious. I probably could have communicated that better to My Artist. I’m sure he would have made an effort to explain things better if he knew exactly how I was feeling and how little I understood everything. Despite all of that though, I did eventually find myself sitting in The Tattoo Chair at My Artist’s shop at 11pm on a Saturday night.
My tattoo is a bracelet of celtic knotwork. There are three open spaces in the knotwork where I had My Artist draw in “charms”. The charms are a Super Nintendo controller, a ball of yarn with knitting needles stuck in it, and a 20 sided die. The first thing I learned while I was sitting in The Tattoo Chair was that it is surprisingly difficult to get a clean transfer of the outline of the design when you’re trying to put it in a band around a place like the wrist. You can’t just wrap the piece of paper around your wrist because the width changes the closer to the hand you get, and any little movement of the skin will mean that the two ends of the design won’t meet up in the right spot. My Artist tried to transfer the design 3 times before he gave up and called his wife (who is also a tattoo artist) over to help. And she tried twice before she gave up on getting a completely clean transfer and just drew in by hand the parts that didn’t transfer cleanly.
That is the point at which I made my first rookie mistake. I noticed much, much later that there are a couple of places where the complicated knotwork isn’t quite right. If I hadn’t been so jazzed up on “holy fuck, I’m finally doing this thing” excitement, and if I had prior experience with this sort of thing, I might have taken a long hard look and made sure the transfer was perfect before the actual tattooing began.
Once the transfer was on the only thing left was to start stabbing me with an inky needle. Over the years I had heard and read so many different things about how getting a tattoo feels that I kind of went into it thinking that it was going to be kind of like sex. Everyone is different and experiences sensations a little differently. Some people find it incredibly painful to get a tattoo. Some people find it pleasant. Everyone seems to have a different opinion on what places hurt the most to get tattooed. I tolerate pain fairly well, so I figured I’d be ok even though I was getting my tattoo done on one the places a lot of people agree is one of the most painful.
I was mostly right about how it was going to feel for me. Initially it was less painful than I was expecting. Just kind of a vibrate-y mild burning sensation. Then My Artist got to that little sort of bony protrusion on the pinky side of the wrist. THAT hurt like hell. And something that I don’t think I’d seen or heard anyone point out before- you can’t really get used to the sensation because it keeps starting and stopping. Tattoo guns don’t have, like, a spot for the ink bottle to just be plugged in. It’s like writing with a quill or painting, you have to stop every few seconds and dip the needle in the ink. Which makes the painful parts even more painful, because you can’t just grit your teeth and suffer through and then it’s done. It’s suffer, pause, suffer, pause, suffer, pause… It makes total sense and I’m amazed that I didn’t realize that’s how it would work beforehand.
Roughly two hours later, the knotwork was done. At around 1 in the morning. Now, this is where I made my second mistake… kind of. Once the knotwork was done My Artist did the research and drew up the charms I wanted. He showed me the drawings and got my approval and then we did the transfers and the stabbing again for each one. My mistake can be viewed from a couple different angles. Either I shouldn’t have gone in so late to get the tattoo in the first place, or I should have been extra diligent in checking to make sure the charm drawings were right since it was so late and I was very, very tired. Turns out, tattoo artists don’t just inherently know the difference between a knitting needle and a sewing needle. I know, weird right? So I have a little ball of string with sewing needles poked in it on my wrist now. Not hard to fix, there are knitting needles with embellishment so I’m just going to get some color added later and it will be fine. But still, that’s something I should have caught and I didn’t because endorphins and sleepy.
By about 2am it was all done. At that point I hadn’t noticed the mistakes so I was sleepy and ecstatic all at once. It was incredible. I had a hard couple of weeks afterward when I noticed the problem with the knotwork, but now that I’m on the other side of that I can honestly say that I love my tattoo and I loved the experience of getting it. I’m constantly trying to decide what/where my next one will be. Because I definitely want more. I’m one of those people. Can’t wait to get more.
I was out running an errand tonight and decided to treat myself to some frozen yogurt. So I go into the shop and I’m headed toward the cups when I am accosted by the cashier.
First she welcomes me to the store. Yea, ok fine. I know you’re probably not nearly as cheery and happy as you sound because I also work in food service, but your boss probably requires you to greet the customers so whatever.
Then she asks if I’ve been there before. I had, and I told her that, but why even ask? Why does it matter at all if I’ve been there before?
Lastly, after learning that I’ve bought yogurt from this store before, she thanks me for coming back. Uh… you’re welcome?
Just leave me the hell alone and let me go about my business!! Seriously, am I the only person who actively dislikes all the stupid polite small talk shit that the owners and managers of retail and food service places require their employees to spew at their customers? When I go into a shop of any kind I just want to do my shopping and leave. If I have a question, I will ask.
I don’t need to be greeted, I know you don’t care how my day is and I know you aren’t nearly as happy to be there as you’re pretending to be. So can we just skip that completely pointless interaction? I honestly do not understand why the people who manage these stores seem to think it makes any difference to the customer whether they are greeted when they come in. I have never spoken to someone who was happy with their purchase but wasn’t going to go back to a place because no one said hello when they walked in the door.
I don’t need help. At least not the minute I enter your store. If you’re a retailer, I need to look for the thing I’m there to buy. If you’re a food service establishment, I need to decide what I want to eat. What I do not need is you bothering me before I’m ready to make my purchase. All you’re doing is wasting both our time. Go do something more productive until I’m either ready to leave or I actually do need your help.
I don’t like platitudes, polite small talk or attempts to sell me things. Just leave me alone and let me get what I came for. As long as you’re not rude to me when or if I engage you I will be happy.
Am I alone in this? Do other people actually care whether they’re greeted or like it when a sales person tries to give them a tour or spiel about the products in the store?
Eight months. I haven’t written anything substantial in eight months.
And I’m not really writing anything now. But I’ve started to feel the itch again, so I thought I’d pop in here and let anyone who’s interested know that I’m not dead and hopefully neither is this blog.
Hopefully. But I’m not making any promises. That way lies disappointment.
…which is totally OK because I am also dating the same girl.
And it occurred to me when I woke up today that The Keeper and I are in a somewhat unique position. As of right now we’ve been out on one date with a fantastic girl that we both really, REALLY like and there’s a second date in the works probably for next week. The goal of all this (in addition to making an awesome new friend) is to eventually have a threesome and possibly have an ongoing friend with benefits/ BDSM relationship with The Girl. But right now we’re just dating, getting to know one another and trying to determine if we want to get more intimate or not just like any other dating situation. I can’t necessarily speak for The Girl or The Keeper, but I’m having all the same feelings as any other time I’ve been on the cusp of a new romantic relationship. The big difference is that this time I have The Keeper right there with me. I have the excitement of a new relationship while also having the security of my relationship with The Keeper. I get to have all the giddy nerves and the anticipation of a first kiss and the awkward should-I-make-a-move moments WITHOUT the worry that something is going to explode and someone is going to get hurt; because not only are all three of us adults who have been communicating openly about our feelings and expectations from the beginning, but also because each of us has a secure relationship to fall back on if things don’t work out. None of us is in a position where we’ll be alone and hurting if something bad happens.
That is a unique and special place to be. I’m quite enjoying it. And I’m especially happy to be sharing it with The Keeper.