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The breakfast mix-up
After I had exchanged the pepper grinder at Williams-Sonoma in the mall, I raced back to the house. Despite the cold temperatures, the sun was shining brightly and the sky couldn't be any bluer. My mind was racing. All of a sudden, I was pulled out of deep thought when my cell phone rang as I was maneuvering through post-Christmas traffic in the Maryland suburbs.
On the caller ID, I could see it was my parents' number.
"Adam, did you forget something?" my mom inquired.
"No, what do you mean?"
"John, Melissa and the kids are here because you said you wanted to have breakfast with them before you flew home to San Antonio."
I had totally forgotten. Between Amy's description of her mother's hostility to my presence in her life once again, my decision to fly to Dallas to ask her parents for their blessing, the earlier flight, getting dressed up in a suit and running this last errand before Mom took me to the airport, I was lucky to remember my name, much less my breakfast commitment.
John, who stands 6'3" tall, lived about 40 minutes away and was now a successful health care lobbyist, after having worked on the prescription drug benefit bill on behalf of his former boss Republican Congressman Bill Thomas of California who chaired the House Ways and Means Committee.
"Yikes, I did forget. I'm right around the corner. I'll be home momentarily. Tell John that I'm on my way. Unfortunately, I can't visit for long since we need to skedaddle. I can't miss this plane. It's critical that I make this plane."
"Okay," said my mother. "We'll see you shortly."
When I walked in the front door, and closed it behind me, it rang the sleigh bells that Mom had hung on the inside doorknob. I guess that's an unspoken McManus tradition. I've got sleigh bells hanging on the inside doorknob of my back door in San Antonio.
As I entered the living room, Melissa, my sister-in-law, holding Olivia, her youngest, on her lap, said "Your mother tells me that she's about to take you to the airport right now. I thought you were leaving later this afternoon. Why did you change your flight and why are you all dressed up anyway?"
I looked at Mom. Mom looked back at me, then at Melissa. And Melissa looked back at me. It was one of those moments where time seemed to move in slow motion. Mom was smiling, throwing her hands in the air, as if to say, "I know what's going on, but I'm not sure I'm allowed to tell."
So I forthrightly declared, "Actually, I'm all dressed up and I changed my flight because I'm about to ask for Amy's hand in marriage."
"Amy, the ex-girlfriend?" John asked with amazement.
I have never seen John nor Melissa look more surprised. Their mouths both dropped open simultaneously, wide enough to bite into a Big Mac and a half.
"I don't have much time if I'm going to make my plane. But the gist of it is that we've been talking for the past several months and we're totally in love with each other."
"Have you two been dating again?" John asked.
"When was the last time you saw her?"
Now there was the awkward question of the moment. "Well, it's been 18 months."
"18 months!" John nearly shouted. "This sounds pretty rushed or something. Are you sure about this?"
"To be clear, this is anything but rushed. We've known each other since September, 2001. We were friends forever, then dated for a year and a half, then broke up and now we've been talking on the phone every day for months. Yes, I'm sure about this."
You see, in my mind's eye, my initial plan was to express my intention to marry Amy over the phone, propose in person, putting a ring on her finger which would demonstrate my obvious commitment to her. Only at that point had I planned to reveal the good news to our respective families. But when I heard that her mother was so dramatically opposed to my presence in her life just the night before, I altered those plans in a big way.
"John, I'm sorry about forgetting that we had planned to eat breakfast together. I hope you can understand. It's just been a little hectic. Mom, if we don't go right now, I might miss my plane."
"Alright," she said.
My suitcases were already packed and in the car. I gave John and Melissa a hug, said goodbye to Jack and Olivia, my nephew and niece, and walked briskly with my mother to the gold Dodge Minivan in the driveway outside. As I made my way to the passenger front door, I inhaled some of that crisp, pure, chilly Maryland air through my nostrils, filling my lungs to capacity. Then I slowly exhaled through my mouth. The days of my bachelorhood were rapidly coming to a close. And I couldn't be any happier. I was truly excited about the prospect of being Amy's husband and the father of our future children.
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