Me, in the parking lot before The Cure concert: I’m just really tired of being a GIRLFRIEND for the last 22 years.
Henry: I don’t think you were my ‘girlfriend’ for that first year, though.
One of my favorite things about the Erin&Henry (or, if you know us from the hallowed LiveJournal days: Ruby&Hoover) origin story is that when he started working at the place where I was the office manager from 2000-2004, I missed his inaugural week there because I was away seeing The Cure, my most favorite band in the entire world then and now, for the first time. So when he was being led around the office for introductions, all he saw of me was my empty desk while being told, “That’s our office manager, she’s away in Australia seeing some band right now.”
So, while my first impression of him was, “Wow, he looks like Michael Myers” as he walked away from me down a hall in his dark blue coveralls, his first impression of me was that I was some ultra fangirl groupie who drained her savings account to fly across the world alone to see a concert.
And have I changed? Mmm, nope! But the best part is that when we started dating a year later, he never once ridiculed me for my obsessions, but instead joined me on music festival road trips and too many worknight concerts at small clubs where we would then have to stick around to meet the bands because that was my routine. He has mostly just tolerated (at best) most of the bands I have obsessed over, but he genuinely became a fan of The Cure without any arm-twisting or pressure from me. I finally had someone that I could talk to about how they made me feel, which songs I used to lay on the floor and cry to while drinking Manischewitz out of a red goblet, what song I would want to play at my wedding. The things that no one before him cared about! For instance, when one guy that I briefly dated came over one night when I had one of the live DVDs on, and he said, “They’re really gay.” Um, bitch bye.
So when we managed to snag tickets for The Cure’s 2023 US tour, it suddenly occurred to me that what if Henry finally ASKED THE QUESTION THAT NEEDS TO BE ASKED. Look, it’s not a secret that I have been hounding his ass for the better part of the last 22 years. You know, I know it, he knows it. I want to get married. Shocking.
I can’t quite explain it, but I really felt like it was going to happen this year, like maybe he even had a ring. I mean, at this stage in life, the element of surprise isn’t really a factor anymore. Just get ‘er done, etc etc.
I started dropping super obvious hints, like, “This could be the last time we ever see the Cure. Wouldn’t it be amazing if something BIG happened? Something MEMORABLE?” C’mon, guy. Take the fucking hint.
Finally, it was THE DAY! The weather was shit, but we had seats under the pavilion at the Blossom Music Center so I wasn’t too concerned. When we went to find our seats, I started walking down our row and as I went to grab the seat closer to the middle, I looked up and saw that Henry had somehow gone around and was coming down the row toward me in an attempt at seat interception.
“Let me sit here,” he said, just as I was about to sit down.
“No!” I cried like a brat. “I want to sit here because it’s closer!” (I mean, barely closer, but you know how I can be.)
He mumbled something and squeezed past me (I didn’t even bother to move my knees to make it any easier for him, ha ha ha, typical Erin) and then sat in his bitch seat to the right. I thought this was really strange. No one was even sitting around us yet so it’s not like he was trying to avoid anyone. But then, because I’m dense and things sometimes take a second or 28,783 to sink in, it occurred to me that maybe he wanted to sit on my left for proposal ease?!
Still, I tried not to get my hopes up too high because we all know what happened when I thought he was going to propose on the boardwalk in Wildwood last summer.
The Twilight Sad came on and twilight sadly did nothing to stop the annoying two couples behind us from scream-talking loudly into the back of my head. Between the overall weird vibes of the crowd, anticipating The Cure, and wondering if Henry was going to finally ring me (finger, not neck, although I guess that also depends on the day…), I was on edge. Bigly on edge.
Almost immediately after The Twilight Sad’s set, the crew came out to set up for The Cure. Now I was really getting excited and nauseous. Pee jig central over in Row M. The Cure just hits differently. I always go into these concerts expecting to be drop-kicked into a pit of despair, and that’s OK. Sometimes, that’s what we pay for.
And then, a loud fizzle, and electricity flickered in and out followed immediately by a clap of loud thunder, none of that romantic rolling thunder business, either. This was a YOU’VE BEEN BAD crack of the belt from above.
And then, lightning.
And then, actual sheets of rain, straight up wet curtains, falling from the sky.
People were SCREAMING, Mary. This was some Lord’s Work happening at the Blossom Music Center.
As the crew was fleeing the stage, DANGER DANGER messages came up on the video screens, while the faceless spokesperson of the venue turned on the DISASTER MIC and instructed everyone under the pavilion to remain there while urging the people in the lawn to return to their cars until further notice. It was chaos. My brother was just arriving with his friend and I was frantically texting him to stay in his car and he’s like, “WHY ARE ALL THESE PEOPLE LEAVING??”
At this point, we weren’t even sure if the concert was going to happen. A guy two rows behind us was obsessively checking the storm radar on his phone and giving us updates. He said it was looking like it was going to pass through, so we stayed hopeful.
After about 45 minutes, A GREEN MESSAGE replaced the RED MESSAGE on the screens! Green is good!
And then The Cure came on! Immediately, the tallest guy in the all of the Cuyahoga Valley stood erect in front of me, so I finally granted Henry’s request to switch seats and proceeded to spend a large portion of the night with my left hand FULLY-FLEXED at my side in an attempt to manifest a ring sliding on down my dumb ol’ finger. THE finger. THAT ONE. I was so stoked, I just knew it was going to happen. I dropped so many clues for months to the point where it was like a fun little game that he seemed to also be playing so I thought, OK, we are COMMUNICATING, this is cute.
The Cure is cycling through song after song. All of these BIG SWELLING EMOTIONAL MASTERPIECES that Henry could have used as his soundtrack while doing the damn thing.
If Only Tonight We Could Sleep
When they began to perform Play For Today, I just about lost my mind because IT WAS SO APROPOS. There is a line that literally goes:
for something to happen
YES, THAT’S ME. HERE I AM. ROW M, SEAT 17, WAIT WAIT WAITING FOR SOME FUCKING STUPID THING TO HAPPEN, RING FINGER FLEXED LIKE A FUCKING FLAG POLE.
At one point, I thought I saw him reaching into his pocket and I felt a JOLT of nervous anticipation, but calm down, everyone. He was just scratching his side.
One of my favorite songs played that night was Edge of the Deep Green Sea, which the crowd turned into a big party foul when NO ONE raised their arms when Robert sang “put your hands in the sky.” I started to raise mine, and then stopped halfway as I became stunned to see that no one around me, not even the people at the front of the stage, were joining in. Did I miss a memo? Do we not put our hands in the sky anymore? Usually, it’s something akin to the wave during this part of the song, with hands fluttering up left and right, but only saw a few arms shooting up. My brother and I were texting about this the next day, and he said, “I put my hands up like you taught me* and no one else did??” he said.
*(We saw the Cure together in 2008; my 4th time and his 1st so I made sure he knew about this beforehand! It’s always been one of my favorite parts of the process when it comes to Cure concerts.)
There was an awkward moment when Henry and I looked at each other and both said, “What?” at the same time but I was Very Annoyed with him and his lack of EVERYTHING, so I refused to commiserate over this. I mean, he wasn’t even trying to hold my hand at any point of the night, at the very bare minimum. It was like we were STRANGERS standing together at random. If you’re not ever going to be my husband, at least act like my BOYFRIEND. So, while I would usually grab his hand and forcibly wrench his arm into the air because he hates audience participation and I love to torture him, I didn’t do that this time. I was PUNISHING him.
He doesn’t know the behind the scenes of Erin’s Bratty Brain part of this story, so I’m sure once he reads this, he will have some things to say. I gotta be honest for the blog! Even if I’m not 100% conscious that I’m sabotaging something, I will still find a way. It’s built into me. I was raised on Days of Our Lives, for Christ’s sake, practically breastfed drama and conflict.
The lights came on. I started to shake, my body WRACKED with rage. I turned to Henry and quite frankly, it is a wonder that I was able to swallow back the Abaddon Choir threatening to blast out a guttural Viking metal rendition of Miley Cyrus’s “Flowers” from my mouth with the force of an uncorked fire hydrant.
♫♪I CAN MY BUY MYSELF FLOWERS, SHOVE MY RINGLESS HAND UP YOUR ASS.♫♪
Instead, I sizzle-hissed in an octave well above normal functioning person levels, “WELL, I GUESS TONIGHT WASN’T THE NIGHT.” In my own ears, I sounded like a very pissed off cartoon cat. Feral. Mewling.
And then my emotional volcano burst, 22 year’s worth of resentment and insecurities came squirting out of my eyeballs like hot wet salty lava, and I ran away into the crowd. It was completely apparent, I’m sure, to everyone around us that something DOMESTIC was playing out. Either that or people were thinking, “Wow, The Cure really made that broad mad!”
I was STALKING off through the pavilion, hands balled into fists at my sides, face scrunched up into one fucking UGLY mask of anguish – I know my ugly-cry face and it was definitely what I was wearing at that moment. I actually replayed this in my head on a loop for days afterward, hovering above my body and watching from above, and I can truthfully say that I am very embarrassed and ashamed by the way I was acting. (“That’s called ‘disassociation,’ Erin, and it’s a psychological disorder. I love how you’re just casually explaining it like it’s something that you just…do all the time??” one of my friends said when I was like, “Yeah, you know how you remove yourself from the situation and watch it play out?” LOL, oh.)
Henry never even bothered to stop me, which was infuriating because even though I told him to GET THE FUCK AWAY FROM ME, I obviously also wanted him to NOT get the fuck away from me so that I could berate him further. So, I had to keep slowing down to let him catch up long enough for me to growl lovely sentiments such as YOU RUINED THE CURE FOR ME / I FUCKING HATE YOU / I DIDN’T EVEN WANT TO COME HERE WITH YOU TONIGHT, I WANTED TO GO WITH MY BROTHER BUT STUPID ME THOUGHT MAYBE YOU WERE ACTUALLY GOING TO BE A REAL FUCKING MAN AND ASK ME.
You know, these types of things. Didn’t care who was listening at this point.
Imagine Pee Wee in the rainy alley after his bike is stolen, but me walking through the wet Blossom Music Center parking lot:
How can one man be so dense? How can one bitch be so stupid?
The walk back to the car was long and miserable. Everyone around me had that blissed-out post-concert high while my body was quaking as I tried to stop myself from sobbing. You know what that feels like. Weird squeaks were eking out of my throat the harder I tried to put a moratorium on the tears. It was just fucking miserable. Just try to imagine how it feels to be strung along for more than 20 years. No matter what Henry says, what excuses he has, he has strung me along. That’s how it feels! And for all the people over the years who have said, “It shouldn’t matter, why does it matter, it’s obvious he loves you” – well, it does matter to me, it’s personal. It’s something that I have always wanted and the fact that I have been put in these awkward conversations over the years where I’m forced to defend my stance, it’s just been infuriating and deflating.
This is all going through my ABUSED MIND the entire walk back to the car, while I’m whispering things to myself like a lunatic (“Calm down, Erin, we can kill him later” / “I don’t fucking know where the car is” / “Even serial killers get married“), giving no fucks at this point how unhinged I look to the casual observer.
As soon as we both got in the car and the doors were shut, I covered my face and WEPT like I was in mourning. And in a way, I guess I was! Because after blubbering “I’m so stupid, I’m so stupid” at least a dozen times, I looked at Henry and said, “I don’t want to do this anymore. I’m done.”
And in a voice that didn’t even sound like his, but that could also be because my ears were filled with the sound of static and RUSHING BLOOD, he quietly asked, “Then what am I supposed to do with this?”
There he was, sitting in the driver’s seat, holding the ring that I picked out, oh, TEN YEARS AGO.
I experienced a psychological snap right then and there. I was still full-body sobbing, but now I was also laughing too. My face, I’m sure, was smeared like a Kindergarten finger painting by this point, and I had a strong sense of the swollen state of my eyes. OK, I was psychotically laughing at this point, let’s be real. I could have gone one of two ways: just go with it and accept that I was being proposed to in a fucking parking lot, or rip his stupid face off.
I had no energy left to fight so I let him put the stupid ring on my dumb finger, still unable to stop laughing or crying. He was saying words. I wasn’t listening. I could still only hear the synapses snapping inside my brain. I know he was saying nice things, I know that he CLEARLY felt like shit, and I know that we were both marginally traumatized by the way things played happened.
“You have to say yes!” he said, and I realized that I was still just sitting there hysterically laugh-crying and performing the sniffle-hiccup combo of the advanced crier.
Of course, I said NO at first. :)
And then we didn’t get home until after 3am, because the venue allowed The Cure to play past curfew to make up for the delay and then it took nearly an hour just to get out of the parking lot. I actually don’t even know what time it was that the blurry, delirious proposal even happened because it was very close to midnight when we were walking (or, WAR MARCHING in my case) back to the car. So, it either happened on June 11th or June 12th, but after 22 years, who’s keeping track?
Henry’s version of the story is that he scoured the set list beforehand, in order to choose the perfect song to finally end the 22 year saga. He had chosen “Edge of the Deep Green Sea,” and the plan was for him to….wait for me to grab his hand and lift his arm into the air.
You know, the thing I intentionally didn’t do and then tried to play off afterward by saying it was because I was “holding my phone.” Not “trying to punish him.” Nope. Not that at all.
So, when that didn’t happen, combined with the rain delay changing the set list, his plan was sent into a spiral. He didn’t know what songs were going to be performed after that, and before he knew it, the show was ending with “Boys Don’t Cry” and then everyone was leaving.
He spent the whole show holding the ring in his hand.
I chose this ring 10+ years ago after finding a jeweler on Etsy who makes rings out of raw diamonds. I knew that was the style for me. I’m not a traditional Zales diamond ring bitch, and I like that this is rough and imperfect, just like our idiotic relationship.
But! It’s probably for the best that it happened the way it did because I have no idea where he got the measurement for the ring. It is way too big and imagine if his plan had been successful and then I flung it off my hand during the concert?!
I did ask him why he let me run away afterward, why he didn’t just stop me, explain the situation, and do it right then, and he said he was afraid I would throw the ring into the woods.
Also, we all know how hyper-critical I am. If he had managed to do it during the concert, I probably would have just spent the next 20+ complaining about the song he chose.
The next day, I asked Chooch (whose reaction was “nice. congratulations.”) if he wanted to see the ring.
“No,” he said. “I already saw it last year in Wildwood.”
Confirmed: Henry was definitely supposed to do it then. Our friends Alyson and Ryan knew about it and were stalking my Instagram with “ants in their pants,” per Alyson, but then it never happened. Henry let us all down!
“Where were you going to do it?” I asked him the other day, and he said in front of Mister Softee – ??? I mean, I like that ice cream place but I would have been like, “Really, this is where I finally got engaged?” if he had gone through with it.
So overall, I think I’m fine with the way the ring finally ended up on my idiot finger. In the car, parked in the Blossom Music Center lot, after a concert that almost didn’t happen because of a storm: totally traumatic and 100% on brand for us. Yeah, I’m OK with this. :)
Anyway, I need a big do-over since he pretty much ruined the entire concert for me so we’re going to see The Cure head-line Riot Fest in September. REDEMPTION.
(Apologies for typos and any nonsensical grammar issues – I have been writing this piecemeal since last week and am super hyper and crazed, still!)