The Ballpark Proposal

On bended knee, ring in hand, he didn’t hear what he expected to hear and his brain shut down. All around him, minor league baseball fans cheered him on, oblivious to her initial response. The team’s groundscrew coordinated with him before the game, and had just completed a Will You Marry Me-style routine; the jumbotron camera relayed his shame in real time. Everyone was transfixed on the two lovers, on what they presumed to be the biggest day of their lives together.

He didn’t know what to do. He started to stand, but ended up in this in-between pose, thinking maybe she hadn’t heard him properly. Maybe he should get back down there and do it again. Did? Did she? No. We’ve been together for two years; things are going great! She wouldn’t. Not here. Not like this. She must not have understood what’s going on.

“No, see, I’m asking if you’ll marry me!” He held the ring out to her again, practically forcing it onto her finger. She drew back.

“I know! But … no. I can’t!” They looked around at the still-cheering audience; she shook her head no ever-so-slightly, hoping they’d understand. Needing them to understand and stop clapping and turn away and go on with the baseball game so she could crawl into a hole and die right this very second.

The severity of the situation hit him all at once; he knew he made the biggest mistake of his life. His fight or flight response kicked in, with one last shot to at least save face. “Please, you don’t have to, but just say yes! Just take the ring and put it on and say yes and hug me! We’ll leave right now and talk about this and you can take it off when we get out of here, but just say yes now and I promise I won’t-”

But, she shook her head more assertively, saying, “I’m sorry,” and walked up the row and out of the section, up the stairs and into the concourse. Leaving him behind, ring in hand, unable to move as the cheering and the clapping dwindled away, being replaced by gasps and murmuring. Shellshocked, he didn’t know if he should go after her, or slump back in his seat. Pocket the ring or throw it onto the field. Slit his wrists or tear his own jugular out. Cry or stare off into the distance as generous strangers put arms around him in consolation.

He was so sure this was a great idea. He’d seen videos of happy couples all over the Internet being cheered on by thousands of people around them. They’d have this wonderful memory, commemorated on video for the rest of their lives. The time was right! He was sure of it! She’d been dropping hints about wanting to get married for months now. How could she do this to him?

When the music started, and the groundskeepers did their thing, she thought, Oh here we go again. Another ballpark marriage proposal. My God, if he ever did that to me, I’d absolutely die. Normally pretty perceptive about her boyfriend’s mood changes, she noted after the fact that he seemed more agitated than normal that day, but had no idea why until she saw him get out of his seat and stand facing her. She thought he just wanted to get by to go get something from concessions, but he held out his hand and walked her to the aisle. No no no no no no no no NO! Not like this! Not at a stupid baseball game in front of a bunch of random people!

How could he do this to her?