I clean the house from top to bottom this afternoon. “If I am coming home a fiancée tonight I want my carpet to be vacuumed” I think to myself. I shave my legs and armpits. I phone my best friend and leave a message on her voicemail “tonight’s the big night, it’s gonna’ happen!” I phone my other best friend and leave another message “okay get prepared, I can tell something is up, he’s going to go for it!”
I put on my new dress and my special occasion perfume and we leave.
He takes me to the River Rock Casino. Joan Rivers is playing and he got me tickets for my birthday. We bee-line for the line-up at the casino buffet. I hear they have buckets of lobster and it is only $30 for all you can eat crab legs.
How perfect is that? You can take the girl out of the trailer…
The man at the counter tells us we will definitely not get in to the buffet before the show. “It’s Saturday night, the hogs are feeding tonight, what do you expect?” He gives us one of those ET discs that vibrate and says “if there is a miracle and the disc lights up and starts to jiggle- run back because that means you have a table.” We go downstairs and watch the sad pole dancer for a while. Within 5 minutes the disc starts to rattle. “Of course” I think “my man pulled some strings, it’s our special night, he has thought of everything.” I hold the disc high over my head as we run through the rows of slot machines “outta my way” I yell as we rush upstairs “it’s my birthday and we are at the head of the hogs trough tonight!” They seat us at a private corner table away from the massive cafeteria frenzy. Perfect. Romantic. “He could do it right now” I think “But I’ll bet he’ll wait till after the show.”
The crab legs are sick. The lobster is…inedible. I eat pea shoots and salad and olives and drink some water. We do not put away our moneys worth of food, more like $4.50 but no matter, I am too nervous to eat.
He goes to the bathroom. He takes a long time. “Is he preparing?” I wonder, “is he looking into the mirror, psyching himself up for the momentous occasion?” Finally he emerges and we get our tickets.
“There are 2 complimentary tickets to Joan Rivers waiting for us” he says to the box office. Wha? He got us comps to a sold out show? How on earth? Well I guess I’m not surprised. It is a very special night. I have already noticed that he has planned the proposal on the same night that it is a Supermoon.
It is also Buddha’s birthday…
Cinco de Mayo…
and a partial eclipse.
It is all meant to be. Nothing will surprise me now.
This is so fucking awesome.
Joan Rivers comes on stage and I start to cry. It is such an inspiration to see an icon in the flesh. My man reaches into his pocket and pulls out a neatly folded tissue for me to dab my eyes. Weird that he would be carrying a tissue?…actually not weird at all because he thinks that after he asks me to marry him I’ll cry. Wow. This is too all much excitement. There is an aura of ting and ping around everything I look at. I blow my nose and give him back the snotty rag so that he can save it for later.
The show is okay. At some point i start to fantasize.
Joan calls me onstage “Emelia, is there an Emelia in the house?” I giggle and raise my hand, heart pounding. “get down here girl, your man has something special he wants to ask you!” She stops the show and all 1000 people wait as we have our life changing moment in the middle of her act. The crowd roars! Joan tears up. All 3 of us hug. I make a hilarious joke. She laughs, we start to banter, it’s beautiful. The rest of the show is me and Joan hittin’ it! I’m her little side-kick we start touring internationally…
…and now back to reality. Joan’s act is really quite offensive and I can’t help but think “I could have just phoned my grandmother if I wanted to hear a drunk and racist old lady ranting.” But she gets away with it and we all laugh at how much she hates the Chinese and the handicapped and why fat people disgust her and lesbians and children too and Jennifer Aniston gets it the worst. I hold my mans hand and I think “simply perfect.”
The show ends and she yells “God Bless America” as she gets the band to play the Canadian anthem while wearing a statue of liberty costume- which is a bit strange but hey this is a comedian who brought feminist comedy to mainstream society, this is a women who risked her career again and again so we could laugh about the unspeakable. This is the woman who coined the phrase “does this tampon make me look fat?” She can do no wrong.
We get up to go and my man looks distracted. Is he going to do it now, right here in the emptying theatre? He is looking for someone. He whispers into an ushers ear and he points to a stage door, I hear the words “meet and greet.” NO FUCKING WAY. This is just above and beyond anything I could ever imagine. He has got us backstage passes to see Joan Rivers on the night I am going to become a pre-wife!
We are given our special passes and led down a corridor and told to wait in a small room with a bunch of other selected nobody specials. “No cameras, no autographs, no touching Joan” are the rules. My man slips a card into my hand. It has my blog name written on it in his beautiful penmanship. “In case you have a moment with her alone” he says. “Give this to her. It’s a good blog. She would love it.” He has indeed thought of everything.
A wrangler comes into the room to pump us up “Do you want to meet the one, the only…” “Yaaaaa” I yell “I do! I do! I do! I am ready.”
And I am. I feel ready. I was scared before, I had questions. How do you know for sure? Is it normal to wonder? I mean forever is a long time. But there is no doubt in my mind anymore. “Yes! Yes!” I laugh and looked at my man. What a guy!
“I am ready! Yes!”
“You can take the picture alone with her if you like” he says. Because that was why we were there, to get a professional shot taken with the star. “Would you mind?” I ask sheepishly “No, not at all, she is your hero, not mine.”
And then she enters the room. She is about 4’11, stooped over, tired as hell. It is clear that she doesn’t want to be there. “I’m sorry” she mumbles. “There is something wrong with my eyes” And there was. Her eyes were milky and streaming tears. She looked so old. I was first in line and someone shoved me towards her. I had the card in my hand and all I could think of was “how do I give this to her? It’s my only chance! Should I slip it down the front of her brassiere? Witty Emelia, be witty…imagine, you can open for Joan if she likes your writing…wait a minute, maybe this card is just a decoy and he is going to do it…” click, flash. “Move aside please, quickly, now!” And we were ushered out of the room.
It was so surreal. All I could think about was this poor woman who just sweat through her 80 year old underwear who now has to smile for the camera because it’s written into her contract with a bunch of assholes who all want something from her and I didn’t even get to enjoy the moment.
We play a few slots for fun. I lose $35 in 6 minutes. I have never been to a casino before.
We are tired and want to keep the memory of meeting Joan alive so we decide to leave the soul suck of the bright lights and head for home. He has cleaned the van that day in preparation for the big night. “Just like him,” I think, “to wait till we are alone.”
We pass the place we had our first date. Hmmm, that would have been perfect. We get home and take the dog for a walk, well, kind of mundane, but this would be good too. He goes upstairs and gets ready for bed, wow, he is really stretching this out… and as we are finally lying together in the darkness I realize…tonight is not the night. All his mysterious behavior these past few weeks, it was about getting those tickets, it was about getting me backstage. It was all about me meeting Joan. And all that time I spent preparing and thinking and phoning my friends and shaving my bikini line and wondering “is it going to happen now?” made my entire night with Joan a blur.
Everything was colored by the big question that he never asked.
We wake up the next morning and he is so happy he pulled it off. “You have no idea how long I have been hiding that from you” he says. “You have no idea how many people I had to get to trick you so you would not suspect a thing.” “Ya, it was nice. I had a real nice time” I agree sadly “that was a real nice night.”
I think about Joan a lot this morning. She dedicated her life to her career and what did it get her but alone in her hotel room at the River Rock Casino after a pretty shitty show. She spent her whole life scheming and planning and pushing and going madly, blinders on towards what she wanted. Did she enjoy the ride? Did she ever allow herself to be surprised? Does she have someone who will take her out on the town and hold her coat while the camera snaps.
If she does, I hope she appreciates that person. I hope she knows what she’s got before it’s gone.