Originally written for the 2010 Holiday Season:
For The City Man Who Has Everything
It was a little after ten in the evening when I surfaced from the subway station. The night air was cold and crisp, and ever so often the wind would rip through my pea-coat and knit cap. I walked briskly, as my feet were killing me in my dress shoes and I couldn’t wait to get home to get out of them. Home was more than a destination; it was more like a haven of an apartment filled with central heating and cups of my favorite brand of cider.
As usual with Christmas Eve in the city, festive multi-colored lights hung from nearly every shop window and street corner. Wreaths were wrapped around streetlights with ribbon, and procrastinators shuttled in and out of the remaining open stores at a breakneck pace. I always found this amusing. The day after Thanksgiving and the night before Christmas were logistical nightmares. The time between? Not so much. I actually finished all my Christmas shopping in October after receiving an unexpected bonus from the law firm I sold my soul for. By now my gifts had all been practically been given out. That is, all except for one. It was a platinum bracelet, studded with diamonds and emeralds, that sat on a side table next to my black leather couch wrapped up and tied with a bow.
I crossed Houston street and bought a small packet of roasted chestnuts from a street vendor. Not that I particularly liked the taste of chestnuts but they were an excellent way for me to keep my hands warm in my coat in lieu of having my gloves with me. The vendor and I exchanged pleasantries about the holiday. He told me about being anxious to get home to share his newborn daughter’s first Christmas with his wife. I most likely bored him with my story of my planned proposal to my girlfriend Stacie with my Christmas gift bracelet.
“No ring, huh?” He cackled.
“I don’t do normal,” I said.
The wind had started to pick up, so I bundled up and hunched over as I jogged on over to my apartment building. I slid the doorman a gift-card to a department store, walked the short red-ribbon and marble clad hallway and stepped into the elevator. My favorite holiday tune sung its muffled melody from the elevator speaker as I made my way up to my floor. I couldn’t help whistling along.
When the doors opened, I fiddled for my keys while keeping my eyes fixated on the sole window that sat on the edge of the hallway that overlooked the city skyline. It wasn’t going to be a white Christmas but it was good enough for me. I headed to my door but slowed when I realized the door was left ajar.
I never left my door open and so my heart began to race. What could be on the other end? My irritable landlord? Robbers? My girlfriend’s parents? Oh how I hoped for the first two. I pushed the door open to find Stacie herself, sitting alone on the couch. I thought against mentioning she left the door open, and when we embraced she smelled of the winter cold so I knew she hadn’t been there long. She had used her key to get in because she wanted to surprise me. And surprise me she did. I offered her a glass of cider, flicked on the stereo, and sat next to her on the couch.
“So what brings you here this time of night?” I asked.
She turned to me and put her hand on my lap.
“Do you love me?” she asked.
“I do,” I said.
“Okay then,” she said. “I want you to know that I love you too.”
I frowned. Was she breaking up with me?
“Okay,” I said.
She slid off the couch and got on her knees. She dug a box out of her pants pocket with a diamond ring inside.
“Will you marry me, then?” she asked. A tear forming in her eye.
She beat me to the punch by a nightfall. She was gorgeous but shrewd.
“No,” I said. “I can’t marry you because you were supposed to be marrying me.”
I reached over to the side table that held the small gift-box and handed it to her. She unwrapped it, and when she laid eyes on the bracelet her eyes lit up.
“It’s beautiful,” she said, putting it on her wrist. “But I have a ring and the rules state that a proposal only counts with a ring.”
“Says who? I…”
“Just say you’ll marry me, fool,” she smirked.
“Then my answer is yes,” I conceded.
I guess I was right when I said that I didn’t do normal. Her and I watched the city skyline from the window opposite the living room. Out in the distance into the night sky, I could see a few snowflakes glide their way to the ground.
Happy Holidays, yo!