The Big News

Judging by some of the hilarious e-mail and phone calls we've received lately, there is apparently some confusion as to exactly what transpired June 12 on the beach at Pine Knoll Shores. So, here's the true story, start to finish:

As many of you know, Teresa and I have been dear friends for over a decade. For more than six years now, we've been quite the happy couple. We own a house together, share the household duties, have each other protected in our wills, and have built a nice life together. We share common friends, play music together, and are the best of fishing buddies. In short, we've been leading a nice, quiet, very happy life together.

Over the years, our relatives have gradually grown accustomed to the fact that Teresa and I were perfectly happy living together in this manner. I've never been married, and I told Teresa on our very first date that I had no intention of ever doing so. She agreed, telling me that she'd been married well over two decades ago, and didn't find it to her liking either. As usual, we were in total agreement.

Then, something happened.

For some unexplained reason, last March I started thinking about asking Teresa to marry me. I can't begin to explain where this idea came from. It took me by complete surprise. For a logical thinking engineer like myself, this was more than a little bit scary. So, here's what I did:

I selected the finest little piece of red oak I could find - hard as a rock, with beautiful growth rings. Every Sunday, while Teresa was away visiting her mom, I would go down to my workshop, grab a piece of sandpaper, and sand on this piece of oak. Because the wood was so hard, it took hours of sanding to make the smallest change in the wood. But, this was good. All this sanding gave me a lots and lots of time to think.

I spent nearly every Sunday for the next several months just sanding and thinking, sanding and thinking. The more I sanded, the more the piece of wood looked like an engagement ring. I just kept sanding and thinking, sanding and thinking. After months of thinking, I'd sanded an engagement ring.

Now, I've never seen Teresa wear a ring, so I had no idea what her ring size might be. I also had no idea if offering her this ring would terrify her. But, after all my sanding and thinking, I was completely sure I had to do it.

Next came picking out a place to offer the ring. I wanted a place we could always return to - a place you could find on maps for the next 100 years. Well, just offshore near Pine Knoll Shores, there's a blockade runner that was sunk back in the Civil War. It's been clearly marked on navigation charts for over 100 years, and I felt sure it would appear on maps for many years to come. Directly beside this shipwreck is the Iron Steamer Pier. For years, Teresa and I have spent many very happy times sitting on a little bench near the end of this pier. I couldn't think of a more fitting place.

As it turned out, June 12 was a spectacularly beautiful day at the beach. As sunset approached, I asked Teresa if she'd like to make the long walk down the beach to the pier. She agreed. As we approached the pier, I noticed something was wrong. The end of the pier, along with our little bench, was missing! It had been blown away in a storm. In a panic, I started looking another place where we could sit down together. There on the beach, near the base of the pier, we found a couple of pieces of wood to serve as a seat.

Now, for weeks I'd been practicing exactly what I was going to say to Teresa. But sitting there on the beach, watching Teresa's hair blowing in the breeze, I couldn't recall a single word. I ended up just clumsily staring at my feet, telling her about all the sanding and thinking I'd been doing. I finally pulled the ring from my pocket and asked, "Teresa, will you marry me?"

When I looked up, tears were streaming down Teresa's face. She had the most beautiful smile I've ever seen in my life.

"Of course I'll marry you", she said.

It was the happiest moment of my entire life.

And yes, the ring fit perfectly.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Question: Are you pregnant?!?
Answer: We can't believe how many times we've been asked this question. We've even considered answering "yes", and telling folks we are going to have twins: Singapore Sling Bean and Fuquay-Varina Bean. (Teresa likes to call them her Beanie Babies.) Come on people, we're nearly 45 years old! Teresa already has a 27-year-old daughter! There ain't gonna be no baby making going on around here! But, just to keep you folks happy, we may go through the motions.

Question: Are you going to have a big church wedding?
Answer: Nope. But you can bet your last dollar there's going to be one hell of a party.

Question: Are you going to write your own wedding vows?
Answer: We haven't decided. I do know that Teresa may promise "to love and to cherish", but she's already informed me that I will not be hearing the phrase "to obey" coming out of her mouth.

Question: When are you going to marry.
Answer: Sometime in April, 2000. (Provided, of course, that the Y2K bug doesn't bring civilization to its knees, hurdling us back into the 1970's. I hope all my relatives have come out of their bunkers by then.)

Question: Is Fred going to get a haircut?
Answer: No. But, he may get a pedicure.

Question: Is Fred going to continue being a cheapskate, and give Teresa a wooden wedding ring?
Answer: Hey, hey, hey! Teresa shall have a diamond the size of her head.