A Deceptive Proposal

I have a secret. I have carried this secret, no, this heavy burden with me for ten years. Exactly ten years. It hasn't been easy, but it has always been fun. Because, what is more fun than holding a secret above someone's head, and dangling it like a carrot? Watching someone twist and turn, and wonder whether I would spill the beans or keep my word. Today, all of that promise keeping has flown out the window. I'm going public with my secret knowledge.

It all happened on a dark and stormy night, February 22, 1997. It was snowing hard, and I was alone with my five month old darling Fric. I was living out in the country at Boo's family home. An old, dilapidated farm house that creaked more than my knees do first thing in the morning. I was a city girl, transplanted out to the sticks. I jumped at every sound, feared every howl carried on the wind.

Suddenly, there were two pinpricks of light coming up our very long and twisty driveway. I grew nauseous, and it wasn't because I was almost two months pregnant with Frac. (Yep, we got busy quick after the birth of Fric.) I kept walking over to check on my beautiful baby, sleeping soundly in her heirloom cradle, while keeping my eye on the headlights in the driveway.

It seemed as though the headlights weren't getting any closer to the house. My anxiety level shot through the roof. I paced back and forth, willing this invisible car to disappear into the blackness of night and out of my driveway. Slowly the lights grew closer, as this black car crept forward, hampered by all the snow that had drifted into the lane by the fierce winds of the winter storm. I couldn't make out the occupants, but I knew who they were and why they were here.

After what seemed like an eternity, mainly because they kept having to stop the car and shovel out, the car of doom pulled up beside the ramshackle farm house and I held my breath, waiting, waiting, and waiting.

Nothing. I was ignored. I grew more antsy with every minute that ticked past on the old brass clock. Where were they? I wondered. Where did they go? It was freezing outside, dark and cold; surely the winter storm would chase them into the house soon.

Abruptly the porch door flew open, slamming against the wall. Fric startled at the loud sound, awakened from her reverie of sugar plums and fairy dances. As I hurried over to scoop her up, I could hear the hushed voices in the next room, the stamping of feet in an attempt to loosen the snow that clung to their shoes.

Cooing to Fric and smelling the sweet scent of sleep that clung to her smooth baby skin, I looked up and tried to smile through my fear. It was the Great White Hunter and his girlfriend, Martha Freakin Stewart. I looked at the Hunter and questioned him with my eyes. He nodded and smiled.

I looked at Martha and asked how she was. I don't remember her response, but I remember the glint from the new diamond she was sporting on her left hand. The Great White Hunter came home to ask his love to be his wife. During a snow storm, inside the sagging roof of the rundown barn.

How romantic. (Said as I roll my eyes heaven ward.)

(To be fair, he certainly did better than his brother who just weeks before popped the question to me on his knee after I came out of the bathroom. From having my insides fall out. Sigh. Such a wonderful memory.)

The only problem with The Great White Hunter's romantic proposal, which I knew was coming because he thoughtfully fore warned me earlier in the day, was there was a large, dead and decomposing animal in the barn.

Boo's prize milk cow, Beauty, whom we used to ride like a pony, up and kicked the bucket shortly before Christmas of 96. Boo was devastated over this loss, as I do believe Beauty was his first real love. (Not that kind of love people. Sheesh!) Boo was overcome with grief and exhausted from lack of sleep from having a new infant daughter in the house, and he just kept putting off the call to the rendering company. I like to think he was sad to see her go, the reality is, ten years of marriage and I know my darling hubs was just too damn lazy to get off his ass to make the call.

I'm not bitter or anything.

I spent most of the afternoon and the evening wringing my hands with worry. What would Martha Freakin Stewart do when she saw a dead bovine, rotting on barn floor? What would The Great White Hunter say? What pretty words of romance could cover up the stench of death?

Turns out, winter was on my side. Beauty was partially frozen and only smelled when the temperature reached above zero. Which was not an issue on that snowy night. As for the flowery words that convinced Martha to tie her wagon to that particular ox, I couldn't tell you. I never asked. I could only assumed she got sucked in by the beauty of his genetics, much the same way I did with his little brother.

Somehow, The Great White Hunter managed not only to convince this clever and beautiful woman to be his wife, but he did it while manoeuvring her so that our deceased farm pet was not visible from her vantage point. I never had to worry about her reaction or the fact that my darling Boo's dead cow killed his brother's romance.

The Hunter managed to extract a promise to me to keep my mouth shut, and I agreed. But I told him my lips were buttoned for a finite amount of time. And the expiration date to this secret is now up. I'm shouting from the roof tops and letting the world know about the dumb asses I'm attached to. One I married, the other I tease and try to ignore on a fairly regular basis.

How's that for some romance? Rotting carcasses, snowstorms, frigid temperatures and dilapidated barns. They say every family has it's secrets. Not ours, not anymore.

I feel so liberated.

But damn, what can I torture him about for the next ten years now?

And for those who wonder, the rendering truck was called the very next day so that I never had to worry about someone else stumbling upon the skeleton in our barn.