Love Notes: Liz & Ed – Married 30+ Years (part 2)
Published on Wednesdays, Love Notes interviews, with people married 20 years or longer, are intended to inspire us about what’s possible, but also capture a realistic picture of what it takes to make love last a lifetime. To read part 1 of Liz & Ed’s story, click here.
How did he propose?
Liz: Well, back in those days, we lived in West LA and we were really into different really great chefs and restaurants. And there was this one chef, Ken Frank, and he had a restaurant called The Argyle. And I really wanted to go there. Around January…and Ed was kind of forgetful about occasions, but in January, he starts saying, “Just you wait. Valentine’s I’m taking you some place. You’re going to love it.” And he’s building up all this momentum about where he’s taking me on Valentine’s Day, and I’m thinking ‘that’s really weird.’ This is so not him. He, first of all, doesn’t think about this kind of thing. He’s Mr. Last Minute. And now it’s just after Christmas and he’s already got this whole plan? Something’s funny. What’s wrong?
And suddenly I went ‘Oh shit. Valentine’s? Ugh, he’s not proposing, is he?’ So I asked his best friend. I said “Hank, Ed has got this plan. He’s taking me someplace he knows I really want to go. It has to be The Argyle.” It was really hard to get a table there. It was really expensive. I said “Why is he doing that on Valentine’s?” And Hank’s like “Well, uh, I don’t know,” and not looking at me. I said “OK, listen. He’s not proposing is he?” And he’s just like “I didn’t say anything.” And I was like ‘oh my god.’ I was just totally in a quandary. I didn’t know what to do. If I said no, it would crush him. Because I said to Hank “What if I said no?” Hank says “No, that would be really bad.” What would I do?
I was talking with a guy I worked with at UCLA. He had been married many times. I guess he was on his fourth marriage, and it seemed like it was going pretty good. And I just said “You know, Tom, you’ve been married a lot of times. You might have experience around this. Because, you know, I’ve been married once, and I’m divorced. And I just have it like you get married and things change. And my boyfriend’s going to propose.” And he goes “So.” I said “I’m not sure I want to get married. How do you know if you should get married or not?” He says “You really don’t. Look, do you love him?”
“Do you guys get along?”
“How long you been living together?”
“Do you want to break up with him?”
“Is there anyone else you want to be with?”
He says “So, what’s the problem? You got divorced once before, right?”
He says “Was it that big a deal?”
“No. I just went and got the papers, we signed them. You know, whatever.”
He said “So. You could do it again if you had to. What’s the big deal?”
I’m like “Oh, ok. Yeah, I guess you’re right. If it doesn’t work out, I guess it didn’t work out.”
He says “So what’s the problem? What are you waiting for? Just say yes.”
He made it seem so simple. I thought, ‘oh, alright. I’m making it too significant. If it doesn’t work out, I got divorced I guess I could get divorced again. Ok fine.’ I guess I thought I had an option. I could get out of it if it didn’t work out. He was like “Is he a jerk? Do you think he’s gonna be a jerk? Well, then what’s the problem. Marry him. Nobody knows. How do you know?” I thought, ‘Good point.’
So there we are at the restaurant, on Valentine’s and I’m thinking, ‘ok, he’s going to propose.’ We have champagne, and then some appetizers. I’m thinking ‘when is the proposal?’ It’s just a repeat performance of when we were first gonna have sex. Then we have one of these pris fixe many course meals, and the first course and another course and another course. And I’m thinking ‘we’re at the main course. When is the proposal?’ And then we finished the main course. And then it’s dessert. I’m thinking ‘you are running out of time. When is it happening?’ I’m nervous for the poor guy. I can see he’s sweating bullets. Finally, I actually, I’m sorry to say, I can’t remember what he actually said. But he proposed. I said “I’ve been waiting all night.”
Ms. T: Did you tell him that?
Liz: Yeah, I did. I said, “Yes, of course. Of course I’ll marry you. But I’ve been waiting all night.” He said “How did you know? Who told you?” I said “Ed, when you start telling me there’s a big surprise on Valentine’s? Come on. I knew something was up.”
And it was so cute. He had this jewelry box…and he’d gone all over town to buy a jewelry box. Nobody would give you a jewelry box without buying a ring. But he didn’t want to pick a ring out because he didn’t want to presume that he would know what I would like.
Ms. T: Awwwww
Liz: I know. He said “I would think that you would want to pick your own ring out.” I said “Of course I would.” So he knew me. He really knew me. So what he had in the jewelry box was a cigar band.
Ms. T: Awwww
Liz: He didn’t even smoke cigars then. He went and found a cigar store and he looked at every cigar in the cigar store to find the coolest, most retro-looking cigar band because I think in some movie somewhere, some old, Joe Crawford or whatever movie, he’d seen somebody propose with a cigar band. And he thought that was really cool and so he wanted to re-enact that.
Ms. T: Awwww
Liz: I know.
Ms. T: That is so thoughtful and sweet.
Liz: Very romantic, right? He’s actually a closet romantic and he just doesn’t really admit to it or let it out. So, I still have the cigar band.
Ms. T: Awww, that is so adorable.
Liz: It is, I know, it’s really cute. So that’s how we got engaged. At that point, I thought, you know what? It would be stupid to spend a lot of money on a diamond. I was just very practical. I said “Look, let’s just design some cool bands.” I still have my original wedding band. It’s really really nice. It’s just a gold band with these little kind of channels of these tiny little diamonds in it. I knew a jeweler and he made it for us and gave us a great deal. And so I still have it. Many years later, he got me a big diamond, but I still love that ring. I have it still, and I still have the cigar band. It was really cool. It was really sweet.
Did you dream about getting married as a girl?
Liz: Not really. No. Not really. I can’t remember ever looking at bride magazines or being all that into it. No, not really. I mean, my parents fought a lot and I don’t know, it just wasn’t something I was all that, I don’t know. It didn’t even occur to me that that was a big brush of a thing to do. But then when I did get married, how old was I? I guess I was about 20, 22. And really it was my first husband that wanted to get married. He was older than me and he had three kids and I had three step-children, and he was into marriage, and he wanted a big fancy wedding. And I was kind of like, what’s the point? Who cares? Save some money. I was just like, whatever. Yeah, for some reason that just wasn’t a thing for me. But we did have a big wedding. And I’d see lots of people with big weddings and then divorce right after. Right after my own wedding and observing others, I think I came up with the theory that the length of the marriage is inversely proportional to the cost and size of the wedding. Like the bigger to do, the more inauthentic the marriage really will be or is. That’s kind of my theory I made up. And I’m sure it’s not really true, but it’s sort of what I made up. He wanted a whole big thing. And I was clueless and my mom was kind of clueless. She’d had a kind of small Las Vegas wedding. So I didn’t know what to do. It was a bunch of people getting together, sitting through a ceremony, and then eating a bunch of food. Who cares?
Ms. T: So you did it differently when you and Ed got married.
Liz: We did. And we decided that, we had just bought a townhouse together. Really great place, and it had this awesome kind of a community area and this nice community rec room overlooking the pool. It was really pretty, so we thought well let’s just do it there. And neither one of us, at that particular point, were all that religious. We didn’t have a church. But we did have a friend that we both knew, he was a chaplain at UCLA and he used to come into the Hungry Tiger all the time to the bar. So we knew him from the bar, and I knew him from UCLA because I was working at UCLA by then as a programmer. He was a Presbyterian minister and he agreed to perform the ceremony.
So we had the wedding in this rec room. And what we did is, I went to the flower mart and got all kinds of flowers and my sisters arranged them to make them pretty and to put in place. There was this beautiful kind of a big, big, big arched window, and we put all kinds of flowers in front of it and made almost like a little alter-ish sort of a thing so we could have the wedding there. And we rented a whole bunch of chairs and we set up the chairs for people to sit and my sister and I cooked all the food, great, great, great food.
But we wanted it to be a cocktail party. So we thought, ‘well, we have this much money,’ we’d spent all of our money on our house, ok, so we have this budget. Ok, well, we’re not going to have a photographer because, ah, I never liked those wedding pictures anyway. That’s the one thing I do regret, by the way, because I wish I did have those. You know, when the marriage works out, you wish you had the pictures, because you looked beautiful. But we just had cameras and we told everybody to take pictures. So we have some, but they’re not like a professional quality. In retrospect, we both looked really great, and I wish I had the pictures. But that would have been our whole budget for our wedding.
So we didn’t have a photographer, and then I thought, ‘well, ok, so I spent this much on flowers,’ we bought a lot of shrimp, nice food that we prepared so we saved a lot of money there. I thought, ‘well I could have a lot of alcohol or I could have a wedding cake and not so much alcohol.’ Well, the cake was out the door. No way. Who cares? Nobody eats cake anyway. I thought, ‘Cake, who cares about cake?’ So we didn’t have a wedding cake. But we had a lot, a lot of champagne, loads of champagne and lots of drinks, and a big party.
So people showed up and we started serving liquor, and the food was there from the very beginning, and the party’s happening and we’re nervous. We drank, between the two of us, like a bottle of champagne. We were nervous, like, ‘Oh shit, are we really doing this? Oh my god, are you sure? Are you sure? Ok, I guess we’re doing this.’ And the minister’s like, “Well, when do you want to do it? When do you want to do it?” So I said, “Ok, now.” So they’re like, “Ok, everybody, gather around.”
So people kind of moved to the side of the room where the chairs are and they sit down and we do it. We go up and we have this wedding and the minister is humorous, and we’d written some vows for ourselves, we said some things, and then we made some jokes, you know it was fun. It was really fun. And everyone was pretty loose by then and they’re all laughing and engaging in the whole thing. And it was short. Then it was over and we had more partying and dancing and it was a lot of fun.
Ms. T: It sounds awesome.
Liz: Everybody, everybody, everybody said, “You know what? That was the best wedding I ever went to.” We literally had to throw people out. Like at 2 in the morning, we’re like, “You guys, it’s our wedding night. What do people usually do? So you have to leave now.” Because people wouldn’t go home. It was just going, going, going. It started at like 3 o’clock. Two in the morning, no one would leave. We’re like, “You have to leave now.” It was fun.
Read the conclusion of Liz & Ed’s story here.