Without taking it out I turned and
"You want to go steady?"
"No, I want you to marry me."
Closing the box, I looked down in confusion, a tear in my eye, saying
"Are you saying no?"
A few months earlier Iíd never been kissed. Now I was facing a marriage
proposal. I sat silent then asked.
"You want to marry a skinny, just 17, Asian, still in high
My question was actually to me.
"Me, poor, high school girl, just turned 17, Asian, marry a white, a
man 5 years older graduating from university?"
"When I first saw you I wanted you. We won't marry until you graduate.
Iíll have a good job. I know I canít offer Camelot but give me time. Just nod
I wouldnít graduate for a year, a forever time to me then. Confused and
seeking a diversion I replied.
"You need my parent's permission."
I gave back the ring.
"I'll ask them in the morning."
He kissed me passionately for the first time as my breasts pushed up against
him which he interpreted as consent to marriage. Breaking free I ran in the
house. On my bed I tossed in confusion, still a girl, life changing too fast
but wanting out of my house and then realized it didn't matter.
My parents will say no.
The next morning, Saturday, he came. Dad was atypically home. I stayed by
the stove looking down, absentmindedly cooking breakfast, pretending not to
know the purpose of his visit.
He knew enough to ask Dad first and motioned him to the backyard as the
house was too small for a private conversation. Dad, glad for an excuse to
smoke, got his cigarettes and followed with his cup of tea.
I assumed Dad would say I was too young, still in school and he was not
letting his daughter marry a white devil. Instead after Dad's cigarette and tea
they returned with Dad nodding to me and smiling, his blessing. Next he took
Mom. It took longer and she returned crying but also nodding acquiescence.
He told them we would not marry until I graduated, he had a good job and he
would "honor and protect" me. I suspected Dad's smiling was due to
one less in the crowded house and the potential of a son-in-law to borrow from
and Mom's tears of my not going to college were offset by my marring someone
responsible, unlike Dad.
My brothers were excited at the potential of having their own bedrooms. No one asked if I agreed as they congratulated me while I served breakfast, stunned at the sudden change of my status.
So it was, Saturday morning, the day after my 17th birthday, my fate was
decided. I was engaged, a girl already taken, who in a year would leave home
and school to become a man's wife, a man hardly known; it was as simple as
Suddenly home and school, my focal points, no longer mattered. They were only temporary lapses until marriage and having kids. I was "promised to another" and expected to be an adult but was still a girl. The parking lot, quarters, movie, searchlight, restaurant were omens. I just didnít connect them. I mused.
Whatís a simple folk girl to do?