"Tell me something, Shermanne. What do you want out of life? And I mean, what do you really want out of life? A career? Does it matter what you do for a living? Do you need to make a bunch of money? Will you be a waitress forever or do you want something more? What is it, more than anything, that you want out of life?"
Without hesitation, she answered me, "Well, I've got a college degree and I tried the career thing for a while. It wasn't what it was cracked up to be, you know? Careers are overrated. I don't think it matters what a person does for a living, do you?"
"I'm asking what you think."
"Well, I don't think it matters. I don't know what I'll be doing five years from now but I know I'll be happy. I guess that's what I want most out of life, happiness. Fulfillment. Is that a good enough answer for you?"
I looked at her for a moment, her hands resting on her hips, that matter-of-fact look on her face. "And what will bring you happiness? What will make your life fulfilled?"
Shermanne's eyes rolled up in thought before answering me, "Love, security, health, and two kids. A boy and a girl." She smiled at the last comment. And I melted.
Without thinking, I slid out of the booth to one knee, grabbed Shermanne's hand and looked up into her captivating eyes. I wasn't in control of my own actions, I was a puppet of something more than me.
Shermanne's eyes widened and her lips parted as the words began to form and pour from my mouth. I was trembling and she was blushing. "Shermanne, nothing would make me happier or more fulfilled than to give you all of this and more. I knew from the first moment I saw you that we were meant for each other and now I'm sure of it."
An awkward silence passed. The whole restaurant seemed to quieten, I suddenly became aware of my actions and the people staring at us. My eyes darted from side to side and I cleared my throat. I stood and wiped off my knee and sat back in my seat. My face warmed and I finally said, "Or … we could … (ahem) … go have coffee first. If you'd like."
That was forty-two years ago today. Our son doesn't believe his mother and I met that way, but our twin daughters never miss a chance to recount the tale. They're such romantics, just like their mother. We also have six grandkids with one on the way, every one of them healthy and cute as they can be. Happiness is too pale a word to describe what we have. Happy Anniversary, darling. I've ordered us a plate of happiness with side of fulfillment and a dessert of interconnected meaning. No mustard.