When we got engaged, there was only a handful of people we were able to share the news with in person. Though we called our parents and siblings and grandparents immediately after the proposal, their reactions were unlike those we would have received had we announced it to them face-to-face. That said, I hope to always remember the expressions, the astonishment, the words from those who we did see.
My "Purdue friends" and I had been planning a night out, and Hans and I certainly were not going to change our plans, regardless of our new engagement. Concerning our night out, one friend repeatedly texted me, asking "When?" "Where?" "How are you getting there?" "Who's going?" "What are you doing now?"
I sneakily responded with, "I'll see you later. Hans and I just have some things to talk about right now."
Indeed we did: wedding dates and ceremony locations, the option of whether or not to have a bridal party. Our excited and shocked talk continued over supper, which was actually at a Chili's. I nibbled on incredibly tasty fried shrimp tacos while fielding phone calls from aunts and soon-to-be in-laws. At one point in time, Hans and I were both on the phone: he with his father, me with his father's wife, Hans's step-mother. Excited. Smiling. Happy. Happy. Happy.
That evening, we commenced Round One at Jake's, a rowdy bar which guarantees enjoyment if you like blatant drunkenness and having to yell, at the top of your lungs, directly into the listener's ear.
My friend was seated near the back entrance, at a high top table. He nursed a drink and looked expectant. As usual, his gaze shifted from one person to the next, continuously scanning faces and personas. Hans and I pushed through the crowd (which comprised seniors commemorating their final days on campus and underclassmen celebrating the end of finals) and sat down opposite each other.
"How's it going?" my friend asked nonchalantly. His casual tone breached time; it felt as if I hadn't seen him in a few days, rather than six months.
"Good! Loving my visit! Things are good." I slapped my left hand down on the table, showing off my ring. "This happened!" I was smiling.
He appeared unfazed. "I figured that would happen," he said knowingly, unsurprised and, as always, chill. He nodded to me, Hans, his bottom lip curling back into a smile. "I'm happy for you guys," he said, gazing about the bar, "Congratulations!"
We smiled. "Thank you." Cheers. Bottoms up.
The most entertaining reaction was next. Another friend, Charlene, strolled in the back door, and we immediately grabbed her attention and beckoned her over. She and I hugged and made small talk. I asked how her final week of school was; she asked how my job was. She asked Hans what he was up to. We talked.
"Yeah, I'm really not doing that much," I said. "Just work. Work and sometimes sleeping. I'm hoping to find something in publishing sometime soon, though. But...uh, yeah. Things are okay. I'm really excited to be here! I'm still dating him--" I jerked my head in the direction of Hans, who lifted his glass, tilted his head, and smirked goofily--"and our anniversary was yesterday. We were in Indy and we had dinner and went to the comedy club and, uh, yeah. And now we're here visiting, and seeing people and doing stuff and, uh, oh yeah, we're engaged." I quickly sneaked the last few words into my rambling, hoping to catch Charlene off guard.
She was stunned and stumbled over her words. "You, wait, you," she pointed at me, pointed at Hans. "Wait, you guys? WHAT? What the fuck? Why? WhWhWhwhaaaa...fuck!" Standing up from the table, she stood between Hans and I, who remained seated. "How long?"
Hans squeaked in, "A few hours ago."
"Why didn't you tel--WHAT?" And she was up and off, rambling and ranting about things I cannot precisely remember. She's happy for us, happy, and something about hoping I wasn't expecting her to react one way or another because she wasn't that way and holy crap are we really doing this and she was happy for us, so happy for us and talking and talking and ranting for the sake of talking and what what what WHAT.
In the foreground, beads of sweat drained themselves from my glass to the table. The noise in the bar droned on, a white static compared to the hilarity that ensued at my table. I cared for nothing but her reaction, Hans's smile. I was leaning over, hugging Charlene around the waist and laughing, laughing and crying from happiness because she was speaking the most beautiful profanity I had ever known. So surprised, she was, so taken aback by my reveal of the news.
"You know what? Fuck you," she said loudly, trying to twist out of my grip. "No. Fuck you." She turned away from me and folded her arms, but I held on to her waist, still laughing.
"You're so perfect, Char," I managed to get out. "This is exactly what I wanted and you know I love you for it."
We hugged. Laughed. Seriously talked about dates and decisions. We smiled. Cheers. Bottoms up.
Round Two began just before 11:00 and just over the river. Though Charlene had remained at Jake's with other graduating students, my other friend had hitched a ride with us to Chumley's, a popular Lafayette bar known for its great variety of beers. Indeed, Hans (who actually does his own home brewing) ordered a beer, while my friend and I requested sweeter mixes.
At long last, my friends Zoë and Ty arrived. I was most eager to see them. I could feel the smile on my face already, and I found it difficult to remain calm. I had planned to show them the photo on Hans's camera, the one of him on his knee, hands and ring stretched to me.
"Sorry we're so late," breathed Zoë, who was rocking black boots with shorts. "It's Ty's fault. Apparently, '10:00 or 10:30' means 'Get in the shower at 10:20.'"
"Is this why," I asked, "you texted me earlier and said you'll be on your way as soon as Ty finishes fixing his hair?"
"Well, one should look respectable when socializing during the evening hours," Ty said, combing back his thick red locks. He enunciated his words like John Wayne, but spoke with more warmth and less twang.
Zoë rolled her eyes, and they began to talk about other matters.
"Hey guys, I want you to look at this." I stood up from my side of the table and walked around, camera in hand. "GUUUUuuuuuys. LooooooOOOOOook."
They continued to ramble. In mock frustration, I backhanded Ty's shoulder. "Hey!" I said, gaining their attention. "I'm important! Pay attention! Look at me! Look at me! Look! Look at this!" I shoved the camera to Ty, the photo already on display. He and Zoë bent over the small screen, squinted their eyes. We were silent for a few moments. They looked, their faces bent together. We waited.
Ty was the first to realize what the photo was of, and when he looked up to me, I read the bewilderment in his face. Much like my wanting to always remember Charlene's caring, yet hilarious rant, I hope to never forget the gleaming look on Ty's face. His eyes shone, and his lips froze halfway between shock and smile. I do not remember if he said anything; perhaps his face gestured in such a way that asked, "Really?"
I nodded, scrunching my face with glee and holding my left hand up to my face. I started to laugh again, awkwardly but happily, and put my hand to my face.
"Wow," Ty said, scraping his chair back to stand up. "I believe congratulations are in order." Ty and I hugged, then Zoë hugged me, then Ty shook Hans's hand, then I hugged Zoë, then Zoë waved to Hans, then I shook my friend's hand and hugged Hans and we all nested ourselves to the table.
"So," Hans started. "I thought, just for the heck of it, that we could have some Jell-O shots. Half the people at this table have never had them, so I'm offering to buy a round." We consented.
When the waitress returned, we put in our request. "Red or green?" she asked.
"Red," I said.
"Ummm," Ty paused. "I'll ... go with ... green. Thank you."
We all breathed, shrugged our shoulders in that awkward moment between ordering and small talk. "It doesn't really matter what I get," Ty said. "I'm colorblind. SURprise me," he said in his typical emphatic way, and we all laughed.
One LMFAO song later, the shots arrived. One. Two. Three. Four. Five.
We tapped our plastic cups together in a mock toast, exchanging "congratulations" and "thank yous." We smiled. Cheers. Bottoms up.