Alexa B-Side: #20 - Jenny and the Proposal

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Alexa B-Side: #20 Jenny and the Proposal

I had finally gotten Alexa to relax and take a nap. I had never met someone so stubborn, except maybe Katie, ever. I was just trying to make sure she didn’t push it too hard, but she kept having other ideas. Yes, I knew she was more than capable of doing many of these things herself, but she had just been through a traumatic event and I had been told by Debbie and Dr. Curtis that my job was to make sure she recovered properly. If I was being a bit overprotective, tough! I loved this beautiful woman more than anything in the world and if I had to be a bit tough with her during her recuperation that is the way it was going to be. Even getting her to take a nap was a battle. She kept telling me that she wasn’t tired and I kept reminding her that she needed the rest. I tried to help her over to the couch and she told me she was fine. “You are hurt babe!” I told her but she would come back that she had done nothing how could she be tired. I had to find a new tactic so I pleaded with her just to relax but she kept trying to find things to do, all to be stopped. It came to me that I would get her into the entertainment room and maybe put on a movie or something. It worked like a charm. I got her into one of the oversized recliners and cuddled in next to her. Between the dim lights and the movie, she eventually fell asleep in my arms. After I was sure she was out, I slipped away and went for a cup of coffee. It was just when I was curling up with a book that my grandmother came in.

“Good afternoon Jennifer, is there any more coffee?” She asked. I told her yes and went and got her a cup. When I came back out she was just staring at me. “Is everything alright Jennifer?” She asked me. I started to tear up a bit as I slouched down on the couch. Usually my grandmother would be all over me for my posture, but she said nothing. Instead she slid over on to the couch next to me and pulled me in for a hug. I broke down as she held me. “I almost lost her grandma” I said as my grandmother comforted me. I cried a bit longer, rambling a bit how scared I had been after I saw Alexa’s car and how hard it had been to see her just lying in the hospital. “It devastated me. She has been through so much already! I just wanted to hold her and never let her go. I wanted her to know that I would be there for her forever. But she was hooked up to all those machines and she was out of it. It was the worst thing ever. I thought our future was over right there!”

That comment got must have triggered something in grandma, because she let go of me and eased me up. “Your future?” I realized I had gone too far in my confession to my grandmother. And if there was one thing Grandma Mary was, it was tenacious. When Julie had started to talk seriously about Andrew she was all over Julie trying to find out what exactly the status was of the two. I began to hem and haw as grandma tried to get it out of me, she wasasking all sorts of questions about how close we really were and what my true feelings were about Lex and our future. It got to the point where I finally broke. “Yes, grandma, I want to ask Lex to marry me, but I don’t know if we are ready?” She looked at me with a sympathetic look.

Grandma sat me up and looked at me. “When did you start thinking that you wanted to marry Alexa, Jennifer?” As she sat there I knew I had to answer the question or have to listen to her harassment until I finally gave in, so I figured it would be best to just come out with it. “It was when we were in Florida. Right after we met that Carol woman at the coffee shop. When Lex stood up for us. I knew right there that this was the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. I just didn’t know how all of you would accept this, us. Then came the party. The way daddy stood up to Trey for us, not just me but us, I was convinced that he had accepted us. Now it is all the other questions that have got my head spinning. Are we too young? How are we going to make our way in the world? I mean I still have a year left of undergrad and then my masters to work on. I have a lot of things up in the air.” I looked to grandma for some support and advice, but she just sat there for a moment. Her thoughts on all this were just as important to me as my father’s. She just smiled at me for a moment. And then a look of resolve came over her face. She stood up and left the house.

As I sat there I thought I had really stepped in it this time. Was grandma upset? She never said anything when I was done with my rambling. She just got up and left. And then she was back. She sat down next to me and took my hands in hers. She took a moment and then looked me in the eyes. “When I was 22 I had decided I would leave my job at as a clerk at Dayton’s and began working as a secretary at the Thompson Company. I didn’t go there looking for anything more than better money. I had lived what I had thought had been a happy life. I had dated a few boys but had pretty much decided that I was better off on my I own. I loved to work and wasn’t ready to settle down. I had been one of the many secretaries that worked throughout the offices. About a year after I started, a young man came in to the office who I had never seen before. He was tall with dark hair and had the most incredible blue eyes I had ever seen. I was smitten just looking at him. He happened to glance at me and suddenly stopped. He walked over and asked my name. A few days later he came into the office again and asked me if I would care to join him for dinner. I tried to play a bit hard to get, saying I had plans, but he was persistent. Every few days he came in and would go through the same routine. And finally, I agreed if I could pick the restaurant. That Friday night, I took your grandfather to Rosato’s for the first time. That was not his typical place. He was used to the fancy restaurants and clubs of Minneapolis, not little Italian places. That was when I knew, but I couldn’t tell him that,”

Grandma paused for a moment and took a sip of coffee. “For the next six weeks, we were nearly inseparable. We went everywhere together and he was a perfect gentleman. Then one night, after a dance outside at the Lake Calhoun Band Shell, he led me out on to one of the docks and got down and one knee and handed me this.” Grandma reached into her pocket and pulled out a small grey box. She opened it and I saw the most exquisite princess cut diamond. It was a ring I remember seeing once when I was very young. I took the box from grandma and just stared at it. It took my breath away. Then it happened. “Jennifer, I have never known who I would give this to, I figured it would be one of the twins, but.” And she paused again and for once in my life I saw my grandmother get emotional. She reached into that sweater and pulled out a handkerchief. “I can think of no one in this world outside of this family I would rather see have it than Alexa. You two were meant for each other. Who cares how old you are. You two belong together. Now and forever.” I had lost it by this point and just reached out for my grandmother and hugged her deeply. She slowly got up and kissed me on the top of my head before she headed out the door.

Now I had the ring, a ring that was a legacy in this family. Now I needed to find the place and time to do it. I wanted it to be perfect. And the shape that Alexa was in, I didn’t want to do it now. I wanted to make sure she was back at full health. I tried to be as calm about the whole situation but inside I was nervous as hell. I became a bit more overprotective at that point and I think it was getting to Lex. I didn’t know what else to do. I just kept on her. It was during one of those days when I had talked her into another nap that a plan came together. I had been reading a magazine when an article caught my eye. It was about who had the best hamburger in the Twin Cities and it featured two places. Matt’s Bar that was on 35th and Cedar Avenue and the 5-8 Club, which was one 58th and Cedar. They both claimed to be the home of the Jucy Lucy or Juicy Lucy, depending on which placed you believed. As I read the article I became intrigued by Matt’s. It was the kind of place I would never go but it sounded neat. Then as I thought about it, the idea of going to that same spot on Lake Nokomis, which was right down the street at 48th and Cedar, where I had told Lex about Abby came to be. I now had a place, a place that was special to both of us. Now I needed a when.

The time came about in an odd but perfect way. Dr. Burg called to see if I would be able to come down and discuss my senior paper. I asked when would work for him and he asked if I could come down on Thursday morning. I will admit that my paper was not the foremost thing on my mind at that point, but the realization Dr. Burg had just given me the perfect time to ask Alexa to marry me. I readily agreed and began to think of what I would need. Not only was I going to need the ring, but I wanted to have some champagne to celebrate back at the apartment because I knew Alexa would want to go tell Katie right away. So, a couple of days before the meeting when Alexa was taking one of my ordered naps, I went down to the wine cellar and found a bottle champagne and I took it up to our room and hid it in the closet.

The morning of my meeting, I was shaking like a leaf on a tree. Alexa just thought I was nervous for my meeting, but it was for what I had planned for after the meeting that had me in this state. And it was as I was getting ready that doubt started to set into my mind. What if she says no? I was sure she wouldn’t but the question of what if crept into my head. I was quiet the whole drive down to campus and again Alexa just thought it was my nerves. She dropped me off at Elliot Hall and I went in to meet with Dr. Burg. Thankfully the meeting was short and I was well prepared on my thesis. He gave me a quick approval and soon I was out the door. I went to the apartment hoping to get this whole thing rolling but Alexa wasn’t there. Where could she be? I blew if off at first but it kept eating at me. I put the champagne in the fridge and went and sat on the couch and began reading a newspaper. Thankfully the wait wasn’t long and soon Alexa was standing there. I must have been a bit eager to get this going because as soon as she walked through the door I asked her if she had ever been to Matt’s. She looked at me funny and finally answered me and said yes, she had. I told her I had never been and wanted to go. With that we were out the door and headed south.

I will be honest when I say that other than burning my mouth I barely remember anything about the food. It wasn’t that I didn’t care, it was an excellent hamburger. I just wanted to get this going. I wanted to cement this relationship even further than it already was. When we were finished I asked Alexa if she wanted to go for a walk. I know that this was not how I normally acted so I played on the fact that we were near Nokomis and how much I enjoyed our last time together there. We hopped in Alexa’s little hatchback and made our way down to the same parking lot we had parked after Alexa’s little episode with her mother right after we started dating. I was using every ounce of my being to maintain a semblance of normality as we drove and as we began our walk. As we approached the bench I will always remember, I could feel my heart stat beating faster, my breathing became shallower. We finally got to the magical bench and I began in.

“Lex, you know that you mean the world to me. We have had lots of great times over the last few months. The trip to Florida, the times out at the lake. They have all been wonderful.” I could see fear creep into Lex’s eyes. I took a minute to take a breath because I wanted to get this right, I began again. “Those times have been the best time of my life so far, and I...” That’s when I started to lose it. Now was the time. I took one final deep breath and asked the question that would change my life. Forever.

“I don’t ever want those times to end. Alexa Marie Quinn will you marry me?”



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