Like most 17-year olds, I wasn’t thinking about marriage. I wasn’t even thinking about how to get my crush at the time to like me back. Not that I’d put much thought into it, but I’d at least imagined when someone did propose, it would be the best night of my life.
I’d known Carlos for less than 24 hours when he wanted to take my hand in marriage. He had spent the day at my family’s villa after being invited the night before (and I wasn’t the one to invite him just to be clear). At that point in time, nobody had ever asked me to be their girlfriend, nevermind be their wife.
There’s no way anyone is ever going to let me forget about this night so it’s a story I might as well share. Now that Valentine’s Day has come and gone, here is a rather unromantic account of the first time someone proposed to me.
I met Carlos in a bar called Pura Vida in Spain. By the time he struck up a conversation with me I had one too many mojitos and nobody would have guessed that I was a timorous teenager. I was there to have fun, not chat people up but I thought I was being polite by talking to him.
Having only sat my Higher Spanish exam a few months prior, it was at least an opportunity to test what I’d remembered. However, all the Spanish I knew, I’d said the first night at the bar. When he was invited over by a relative of mine the next day, I wasn’t able to make conversation the same.
It became clear very quickly that Carlos saw me in a different way than I saw him. I was painfully awkward, but I thought I was making it clear that I didn’t want a romantic relationship. It would never have worked out anyway, but he was a bit too touchy-feely and that made me uncomfortable.
Maybe it was because he jumped head first into the shallow end of the pool or all the vodka he consumed during the day, but he thought things were going well. They weren’t. He faced timed his mum to tell her he met someone. He did meet someone, but in the way you meet someone new every day. I was never going to be the girl he’d take home.
Out of everything wrong with that day, the one thing that didn’t sit right with my younger cousin was that he shaved his chest hair. Not that he was a bit creepy and that he lied about his age. When he toppled over his chair, spilled drinks and asked me to marry him in front of our family, she didn’t think much of that either.
Though I don’t care much for traditions, he initially struck me as a man who did, but he didn’t ask my dad for a blessing. My dad’s clenched fists and locked jaw made it obvious he didn’t approve. Perhaps for Carlos’s sake, it was better that he made it a surprise for everyone.
Following an awkward silence after politely declining the offer, my uncle shared his thoughts too:
“You’re a nice guy Carlos, but f*ck off.” He didn’t speak English fluently, but he knew it was time to go home.
What made this so unexpected to me was that ten minutes prior, he had taken me to the side and asked me what we were. I thought by this point he’d finally realised that I didn’t want a relationship. I told him that I just wanted to be friends but he claimed he didn’t understand.
When I said, “solo amigos” he didn’t like that answer. He stormed off to the bar for another drink before rejoining my family. I didn’t expect him to take it very well but I wasn’t expecting a proposal either.
Apparently, Carlos is going to find me when I graduate. By then I’ll be a different woman than the 17-year-old girl he met at the bar. I might be wrong, but I have a feeling I wasn’t the first girl he proposed to after one drink too many. Regardless of what the case may be, my heart now belongs to another man.
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