A few days before Christmas 2004, my boyfriend of two years took me to a Christmas lights display. It’s no secret that I’m like a toddler in an empty refrigerator box when it comes to Christmas, so the venue was perfection. The icing on the cake was that a portion of the entrance fee went to local animal shelters. Since I prefer dogs to most of the people I know, it was a clutch move on my man’s part.
Everything was storybook beautiful. Shimmering lights reflecting off a fresh blanket of snow like thousands of tiny mirrors. Families bundled in their hats and scarves, huddling together for warmth or for just because. My nose, dripping just enough to necessitate several not-so-subtle snorts so that I looked like Donald Trump during the Presidential debates. Only I have better hair. Romance at its finest.
After some time of walking around, gloved hand in gloved hand, gnawing on peanut butter fudge, I confided that, despite my layers of clothing, I was uncomfortably cold and recommended we head home where the beer was. It was then that my Mister announced he had to use the bathroom. Of course he did. When I suggested I wait in the car, he got all panicky. The chill was seeping into my bones, no doubt cutting off oxygen to my brain, but sure, honey, you go ahead and drop a deuce while I die a slow death à la Jack Nicholson in The Shining. I reluctantly agreed to hang by the fire where parents were repeatedly shrieking, “Get any closer and you’ll fall in!” to their children. The romance just kept building.
By the time my boyfriend had returned, sixteen hours later, the falling temperatures had turned me into one frozen bitch.
Where have you been?!
Uh…there was a line.
That was some line! Are they giving away free samples of BJs in there?!! (always classy)
Wanna do one more lap before we leave?
So, we left.
Barely out of the parking lot, and the poor, dejected man looked at me with eyes that said, “I’m trying. Go easy on me.”
He confessed: I didn’t go to the bathroom. I actually went to the gift shop. That’s what took me so long.
Recognizing the anxiety on his face, I noted the small white bag with silky ribbon handles he had handed me looked a little too extravagant for a gift shop, but it didn’t register. Not until I opened the box, saw the gorgeous ring shimmering like the lights on the snow, and yelled, THIS IS NOT FROM THE GIFT SHOP!! did it register that the man was pledging his undying love to me, and I was basically ruining it.
He pulled over, looked me in the face, and said: I was hoping you would want to be my wife?
Again yelling, I responded with something academic like hells yeah I do!! and then we went home to make a new memory.
Not that kind of memory; the kind where our dog eats my Grandma’s gift, a jumbo-sized Hershey’s Chocolate Bar, and would be dead before Christmas Day unless we pump her stomach.
Oh yes. We walked in the house to find our dog had eaten through the wrapping paper and bow, and inhaled the milk-chocolatey goodness, also known as poison for dogs. Naturally, I freaked the freak out. My fiancé (squee!! I had a fiancé!) and I stood on the porch in the frigid night air while our mutt ran around the back yard like Lil’ Wayne on crack. During a small snippet of downtime, the man to whom I would eventually say “I do” tried to gag our dog with a plastic picnic spoon in hopes of regurgitating the chocolate. As one would expect, the spoon broke, the dog made it her new, jagged chew toy, and I freaked out some more.
At approximately 11:30pm and fresh out of gagging ideas, I called our vet on his emergency line, rambling about chocolate–SO MUCH CHOCOLATE–and pointy plastic. A lovely man, our vet, but not so well versed in English; he was quite difficult to understand over the phone. What I surmised from our conversation, after repeating his every word at volume 100 because that’s how communication barriers are broken, was the following:
Hydrogen peroxide…induce vomiting…dog could die…
Okay, got it. At least we were on the right track with the gagging. Force-feeding a mutt hydrogen peroxide would be so much easier, said no one ever. But we had no choice or, on the very night we should’ve been celebrating our engagement, we’d have to bury our dog.
One of the more important details that I did not secure from our vet was the amount of hydrogen peroxide required to make a 60-pound dog upchuck. Wanting to be thorough, we wrestled her into a scissor hold, pried open her mouth and dumped half a friggin’ bottle of the stuff down her throat.
Then it worked some more.
And then some more.
It continued working through Christmas morning.
<Cue angels and bells and whatever>
My new fiancé and I spent the evening we got engaged acting like the parents we would become 5 years later: keeping watch over our baby, a half black Lab, half German Shepherd, and aiming her vomit away from the carpet. Our story isn’t perfect, it doesn’t smell all that great, but it’s ours. I like to think that’s a metaphor for our marriage: hilariously imperfect (me) and a little stinky (him). Also, love.