Yes, the title is ironic.
So I touched on this briefly before, but I didn’t tell the full story. There once was a time, more than a decade ago now, when I genuinely thought I was going to get married. The girl was called Vicky and we were sort of obsessed with each other. She was a friend of a friend, who’d taken a year off during my second year of university. When she reappeared at the start of my final year it was like a bomb went off in my life. We were pretty much inseparable from the moment we met - we went out for drinks with our mutual friend and one of the first things she told me was that she’d been having sex with her best mate’s husband. Which I found quite shocking, but she managed to rationalise it by claiming that sex was just a sport and that a good fuck was just as much fun (and inconsequential) as a game of squash. I argued that love changed the experience dramatically, and at that point she admitted that she’d never really had a boyfriend. That night she came back to mine and pretty much didn’t leave again.
Click the ‘Read More’ button to find out about my disastrous proposal…
Vic smoked roll-ups, and I remember spending a lot of that year lying in bed surrounded by the cancerous mists of Avalon. Every so often I’d be sent down to the corner shop below for more tobacco. I’d sometimes roll them for her - eventually I’d even start smoking them too. It was a happy time - we’d loll around on Bed Island watching Jerry Springer and eating pizzas. Actually that reminds me of something shamefully lazy - the owner of our local pizza place was also our landlord. We’d phone down for pizza and he’d make it, let himself into our flat and deliver the pizza to our actual bedside just in time to see me leaning over the side of the bed and fishing around in my jeans pockets for some change to pay him with. While Vic hid under the covers, naked and laughing. How decadent.
The other thing Vic introduced me to was ecstasy. Now this was in the late nineties well after the second summer of love but it was making a bit of a comeback at the time. I’d never done it but she had and she assured me that I’d enjoy it. So a few weeks after we’d started dating, we went to a hard house night at Rios (which was ground zero for many silly adventures during our time there) and she managed to procure us some MDMA powder. We giddily rushed home (‘cos seriously, who wants to listen to hard house all night?) and bombed the powder. We then spent hours huddled together watching music television (or at least we did until this video came on and terrified us, kissing and laughing. Eventually, she turned to me and looked me in the eyes.
“I think we should get married” she said, while softly grinding her teeth.
“Me too.” I replied, while wondering if I’d be able to go for a wee yet. The moment was only spoilt by the sudden return of one of my flatmates, who proceeded to scream at his girlfriend until she ran home, and then spent several minutes raging through the flat, smashing several windows and mirrors in the process. Vic and I kissed to the sound of breaking glass, laughing as the world crashed down around us.
The next morning I felt a bit crappy, and yet strangely resolved to carry out the engagement. I trundled around the city centre’s jewelry shops, trying to find on that didn’t look too tacky. Eventually I found a nice looking one. The lovely elderly gentleman who worked behind the counter showed me a selection of rings, and I gave him the ring I’d stolen that morning, to ensure that the ting that I bought would be the correct size for Vic’s finger. I eventually picked a Russian three band ring like this one, which I’d seen her admire in the past:
It cost about a third of my entire student loan for that year, but hey, what’s a few hundred quid when it comes to love? I could live off kisses. Probably.
“Make sure you let us know how it goes!” said the elderly gentleman, with a twinkle in his eye. I assured him I would.
The next day, I took a slightly complaining Vic on a walk over the moors. One of the great things about going to university in Yorkshire is the amazing countryside all around you, and now days I find it a bit shameful I didn’t make more of it at the time. We walked for around an hour, eventually climing a large hill. As we reached the zenith, Vic squeezed my arm tightly, and a large bird (Kes?) flew past. I took it as an omen. I crouched down on one knee, as if to tie my shoelaces.
“Are you alright?” she said, brushing her long curly hair back from her face.
“I will be in a minute,” I said, pulling a box from my jacket pocket, and then popping it open to reveal the ring inside. “Will you marry me?”
Vic instantly burst into tears.
“YES! Yes I will!” My hands were shaking like crazy as I took the ring from the box, and it certainly wasn’t just from the cold. Vic put her hand out, and I worried that I was shaking too much to get it onto her ring finger. Then I quickly became worried it wouldn’t actually fit on her ring finger.
“It’s too small!” said Vic disappointedly, as she struggled with it.
“Not to worry, they said we could take it back and get it resized if – “
“Ah! There!” she cried, delighted to have managed to have somehow wedged the ring on. Admiring it from every angle, she looked like the cat that had got the cream. Until a few seconds later, when she suddenly looked like the cat that had just been spayed.
“ow ow wow Ow OW OWWWW!” she cried as her ring finger, starved of blood thanks to the ring’s constriction started to swell up like a fucking Mr. Man finger. “GETITOFFGETITOFFGETITOFFGETITOFF!” I looked around uselessly. “DO SOMETHING!”
”I’m sorry, there doesn’t seem to be any bottles of Fairy fucking Liquid lying around ON THE FUCKING MOORS” I cried, frustrated. Now you have to remember, this was a time before mobile phones existed, so calling an ambulance was not an option. “We’ll have to go back to the bus stop.”
We jogged back to the bus stop, with Vic almost passing out with pain along the way. A bus was just pulling up on the country lane, and I leapt on to prevent it from leaving before Vic reached us. Eventually she caught up.
“What are you doing? That bus is going the wrong way! We’re going to the hospital, not town!” yelled Vic.
“No, we have to go back to the shop, if they cut it off in the hospital, we’ll lose the value of the ring!”
“I’d rather that than lose the value of my fucking finger, thanks!”
“Besides, God knows how long we’ll have to wait for another bus in the other direction!” The bus driver was noticeably doing roll eyes at this point.
Vic got on, and then spent the subsequent 45 minute bus journey swearing at me in a low voiced impersonation of Linda Blair’s character in the Exorcist, telling me in no uncertain terms the sexual practices that she believed my mother would perform if she were in Hell. “MOTHERFUCKINGCUNTSUCKINGBALLLICKING…” The woman in front of us glanced back.
“Sorry about her,” I apologized, jerking my thumb at Vic. “We just got engaged.”
The bus finally pulled into the station, and we legged it to the shop. The elderly gentleman was just locking up – we almost kicked the door down trying to get in. He opened the door and let us in, two muddy, panting, sweating students, one about to pass out from pain, the other from embarrassment. He looked at Vic’s finger, which now resembled an over-ripe aubergine. He reached for the ring cutters and raised an eyebrow at me.
“Went well then, did it?” he laughed. He cut the ring off, and Vic sighed a sigh of relief so deep that I’ve never heard it’s equal. The Elderly Gentleman promised to get the ring resized for after Christmas, and we left the shop, knowing we’d laugh about all this later. We then went to spend Christmas with Vic’s parents. On the last day of our visit, Vic confessed that she wasn’t sure we should get engaged just yet. After that, the relationship started to break down. Within a few months we were done.
After Christmas, Vic went back to the rings shop the to get the resized ring. She tried it on once, admired it, then took it to the nearest pawn shop.
I haven’t asked anyone to marry me since then.