The story? Goes something like this…
His heart had been pounding out of his chest all day, but I didn’t notice. He seemed calm, cool, like nothing life-changing was just around the corner. We spent the afternoon walking around the island, talking, laughing, lunching on the Balboa Pier, watching fisherman struggle to keep their fish from flopping about the dry land, and playing arcade games on the boardwalk. Nothing out of the ordinary for a weekend at the beach.
“We should get our faces cartooned!” Jeff suggested enthusiastically as we strolled past the Ferris wheel and into the arcade for a game of Skee ball.
“Ya!” I replied, just as excited. I love the idea of real people transforming into cartoons on paper.
“Okay, I’ll go see how much it costs. You stay here.” He said.
But before he could turn on his heels and dart off, I looked at him, puzzled. The giant sign—Get Tooned for $8—was right outside, in plain sight.
“Why don’t we just go together? We’ll see how much it costs while we’re waiting in line.” I said, still confused. We usually do these types of errands together.
Little did I know I'd ruined Jeff’s plan. He didn’t want to know how much cash it’d take for the cartoon; he wanted to ask the cartoonist to draw him on one knee, holding a diamond ring to the sky, ready to place it on my cartoon finger after hearing the word “yes.”
It would have been a perfect surprise.
But I’ve been known to spoil a few surprises in my day, and Jeff’s a quick thinker, so he promptly came up with another plan. After the cartoonist had drawn our silly extra-large faces on our stick-skinny bodies, and after we’d paid him and giggled over the ridiculousness of his artwork, Jeff announced he needed to use the restroom. (Lucky for him, I don’t usually ask to join him on these types of errands.) While I waited in line for the Ferris wheel, Jeff walked back to the booth and asked the cartoonist to draw a ring in his big cartoon hand. When he returned, the paper was rolled up so I couldn’t see it.
We rode the Ferris wheel and drove home.
“What’s that?” I asked, my heart beginning to thud.
“I don’t know…” he trailed off. “Maybe it’s…” He reached for his pocket, got down on one knee and opened a little box that looked well over 100 years old. From the floor, he held out his great-grandmother’s ring, an Old-European cut diamond—the forerunner of modern brilliants in the late eighteenth century—on a thin gold band.
It caught the light just right, and…
I don’t really remember what happened after that, except that I laughed and cried and my hands shook uncontrollably. It was the most special moment of my life! The ring is absolutely perfect—antique, brilliant and elegant—and the guy on the other end is even more so.