Friday, March 04, 2005

Chapter Five

I stopped listening to this strange poem the announcer was reading. I started to tune everything out, the crowd, the other contestants, the noise. I no longer had any interest in what was going on, and I mentally extracted myself from the situation.

My heart sank. It felt like it weighed a million pounds, and was sinking to the pit of my stomach. Every molecule in my body sighed with infinite sadness. I tightened my hold on Nathalie's hand and turned my head to console her on our loss, but then I saw her face. She looked sad. Tired. I looked at her and a part of me died at that moment.

I no longer cared about the contest. All I wanted to do was make my Nathalie happy again. I had told myself earlier that I wouldn't be a sore loser, but I quickly abandoned that idea. As soon as the ceremony was over and we were off the field, Nathalie and I decided to leave the game. Neither one of us had any interest in the rest of the game, and neither one of us felt like hanging around.

We had prepared ourselves for a letdown, but we had no idea how much of an impact it would leave. Faced with such a devastating event, I turned to something that would help get our minds off of this terrible moment: Retail Therapy.

So I took Nathalie shopping and she got a new coat, some pants, a sweater, and even a pair of new shoes. By the end of the afternoon, we were feeling a bit better, and started joking on about how we almost got engaged at a football game. Not very romantic. Not very private. Not very original.

We had gotten so caught up in the concept of getting engaged (and a free diamond ring!) that we overlooked the banality of it all. Neither one of us even like football all that much. And to top it off, the Saints have a losing record. Still, it would have been nice to get a free diamond ring, but we figured we would be better without it.

But it still left a sore spot in Nathalie's heart. You can't get a girl's hopes up about an engagement, and then let her down. Especially in front of 50,000 people.

So I began my search for Nathalie's diamond. By three weeks, I knew more about diamonds than I did about any surgical procedure or medical condition. The "Four C's" of diamonds? That was mere child's play compared with what information I had amassed about diamonds. The last time I knew so much about one thing, I was an 8 year old dinosaur freak.

One day in February, I came home after work to find Nathalie tooling around the house doing her usual Nathalie thing. Some home redecorating show was playing on TV, the house smelled nice from the scented candles she had lit, and she was sitting in the living room doing her statistics homework. She sprung up and greeted me with a hug as always, and then must have noted a change in me, because she then asked, "Is everything OK?"

"Sure baby," I replied, "Just a long day at work."

(And I have your engagement ring in my breast pocket!)