My Hideous Engagement

By Liz Pardue-Schultz

If my house was to catch fire in the middle of the night, I would grab my husband, my daughter and a twisty-tie before I ran to safety.

That sounds weird when I say it like that. Let me try again.

When wives gab about how “ruined” their proposals were because “It started raining on our picnic SO hard!” or “His ex walked into the restaurant right as he pulled out the ring!” I smile smugly; knowing that I’ve got them beat. Theirs was messy; mine was downright ugly. We’d been moving Greg’s things from his studio apartment in the middle of June, about a month after I learned that we were expecting…a week before graduation…after we’d been dating for about three months. So, right then, not only did I have a dash of bewildered terror clouding my decorum, I also had humidity, heat and first-trimester ailments working against my usual regal glamour.

Like I said; it was ugly. Unfortunately, it doesn’t get prettier just yet.

After a particularly tough round of running linens down two floors, I suddenly fell violently ill. I then commenced wreaking havoc on my bedraggled boyfriend’s bathroom for a half hour, while he waited outside, occasionally asking if I was alive and whether or not I needed anything. Finally, I announced that I needed a clean towel; a shower had become imperative.

Later, I stumbled out of the bathroom, panting and sweaty, with wet hair dripping a trail to his bed, where I collapsed in the exhaustion only pregnant women know.

Greg gently sat next to me and put his hand on mine. He began to gaze at me with a calm intensity that filled me with self-consciousness. Before I could nervously titter, he began to tell me how beautiful he thought I was, how excited he was to start this new journey together with me, and how he didn’t doubt that God had had His hand in everything happening to us. Producing an innovative ring crafted from a bread bag twisty-tie, Greg asked me if I would be his wife.

I couldn’t breathe through my disbelief. Neurotic, sweaty, ever-expanding, stressed, partially narcoleptic, slowly leaking, heaving like a grizzly bear whenever I put on my shoes – I was the one this man wanted. He was offering to share his future with me and felt confident that I would help it become wonderful. My face burst into an awkward smile/sob as I breathed an excited “Yes!”

As he slid the plastic ring onto my bloated finger, he clumsily promised to get me a “real” one when he could ever afford it. However, as I gushed about our engagement to roughly every person in town, I proudly showed off the black twisted plastic on my hand. My glee was often met with the false approval shown to a child who has dressed herself in a bathing suit and a tutu for a formal dinner. This struck me as hilarious, and I laughed to myself quietly, my bliss proving impenetrable; I had never felt so beautiful or loved.

Over the next eighteen months, our engagement was put through the ringer. During what is typically considered the “honeymoon phase” of our relationship, Greg got to see sides of me that nobody had before – including myself. If I factor in the various dimensions I took on physically, along with the vast array of emotions I adopted within my hormonal onslaught, I can confidently assert that my fiancé experienced a relationship with roughly forty different women during our engagement.

And yet, somehow, this sweet young man with the kind, blue eyes wanted to marry me anyway. For the first anniversary of our wedding, Greg had the ring coated in silver enamel and mounted within a display case that marks the date on a tiny plaque.

Five years after his proposal, his makeshift engagement ring is still the most valuable object I’ve ever owned.

About this writer

  • Liz Pardue-Schultz Liz Pardue-Schultz is a writer, model, custom framer and oddity curator in beautiful Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina.

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