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The $65 question

DEBORAH PRUM
Last updated 05:00 10/02/2014

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The last time my folks visited, our whole family swapped tales around the dining table. Our topic? Marriage proposals: Who proposed to whom and how.

My husband, Bruce, asked me to marry him on top of Cannon Mountain in New Hampshire. We rode a cable car to the summit in a fog so dense you couldn't see your hand in front of your face. As he unpacked a picnic lunch on a ledge that, in theory, overlooked a lovely mountain vista, Bruce decided he wouldn't ask for my hand until the fog cleared. In retrospect, given the density of the fog, that seemed like a risky decision. However, right before dessert, the clouds parted. A brilliant sun shone through. Seeing this as a sign, Bruce popped the question, to which I answered, "You bet!"

Bruce, ever a stickler for proper procedure, responded, "You've got to say 'yes' for it to count." And, of course, I complied.

Our oldest son persuaded his future fiancée to make a chilly, dark, predawn hike up Humpback Rock in Virginia. As the sun rose in splendour over the Blue Ridge, Nathaniel proposed to Anna Kate.

Our middle son, Eric, chose a lovely spot in the Villa Borghese gardens in Rome. However, when he and Bianca arrived, members of a brass band were raucously rehearsing for their next gig. Plan B? Eric took Bianca to a quieter part of the garden. Then on a hillside overlooking the ancient city, he asked her to marry him.

As we each told our tales, I realised I didn't know anything about my parents' engagement story, so I asked my dad.

"We were sitting in the front seat of my car, and I told your mother, 'I have 65 dollars in the bank. Do you want to get married?' Then, a cop came along and told us to get moving."

Seriously? He wooed her by mentioning he possessed $65 in assets? My father is a teller of tall tales. I looked at my mum and asked, "Really?"

Mum shook her head. "No. No. That's not right at all."

Relieved, I waited to hear a recounting of a far more romantic event, one involving moonlight, star dust and roses.

"Sixty dollars. Your father said 60 dollars, not 65. The policeman part is accurate, though. He told us to get going even though we were right in the middle of planning the wedding." She shook her head in annoyance.

I kept quiet. But, I thought, lucky thing Bruce and I did not discuss bank accounts on top of Cannon Mountain. Each of us was in our millionth year of school, which meant we probably didn't have $65 between us.

My youngest son is in his second year of college. His story is yet to be written. Regardless of how he proposes (or, perhaps, is proposed to) or whether he has money in the bank, I hope his marriage winds up much like the great one my parents have built. Romantic or not, my father's proposal kicked off more than 60 years of a good life together. Could they have asked for anything more?

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