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“I’ve picked out the most perfect ring and I thought of an awesome way to pop the question,” said my secretary one morning as I walked into the office in response to my “Hello Ms. Gale.”

“Whoa!” I said, removing my coat and hanging it up. “What’s this?”

“I’ve decided I’m going to propose to Marvin, rather than let him propose to me first.”

“Hang on just a second. Can I at least sit down for this news?”

“Oh, yes, Mr. H., I’m sorry. I’m just so excited!”

I pulled up my chair to her desk and looked at her a long while trying to decide on the angle I was going to take. This requires tact and delicacy or else all caution shall be thrown to the wind. Ah, who was I kidding — myself mainly — this chick wasn’t going to heed any words of caution from me. I knew that going into it. A lesser friend (and boss) would have just congratulated her and wished the couple well. But I felt it was incumbent upon me to at least register my concerns, if only so that I would not be found remiss later when all ended in disaster and two lives were shattered.

You see, a year ago, on Valentine’s Day no less, my secretary, Ms. Gale, had told me that she was thinking of breaking up with her boyfriend (Marvin of our story), but she needed advice on how to do it. She came to me to help sort out her feelings. I told her then and there, “If you’re not in love with him, then now is the time to cut the cord. He’s madly taken with you — that is obvious — and if you aren’t honest with him, you’ll just end up hurting him more later. Break his heart now — it will mend — and you’ll be doing both of you a favor.”

She didn’t take my advice then. In fact, she did the opposite — she moved in with him! She won’t take my advice now.

Six months after moving in with him she met another strapping young fella. She met him through a friend of a friend as he was visiting our fair city, but then he had to fly back home. The two of them kept up a surreptitious communication — late night phone calls, texting, face-time calls — until she couldn’t take it anymore and she bought a ticket to go visit him.

Again she turned to me for advice. “So, you already bought your ticket?”

“Yep,” she said, beaming.

“And you want validation from me?”

“NO!” she said, insulted that I had pegged exactly what it was she was looking to receive.

“Then what?”
“I’m just telling you. . .” she thought a moment, “I’ll have to miss work on Monday.”

“Well, thank you Ms. Gale. Is that all?”

She was clearly disappointed.

“Well, Mr. H., what do you think?”

“Let me ask you this,” I said, getting right to the point since I had a busy day ahead of me and didn’t have time to draw it out of her, “does this fella give you butterflies in your stomach?”

She nodded, Yes.

“Does Marvin give you butterflies?”


“Did he ever give you butterflies?”

“No. But he says that I give him butterflies.”

“That’s irrelevant.”

“So, what do you think?”

“Go meet this new boy and then you decide. But, I still think you should break up with Marvin first — no matter what the result of your weekend getaway — and be done with the poor boy. It’s going to happen one way or another.”

Well, Ms. Gale went half way across the country, met with her beau, texted back to me, “No butterflies this time,” and returned home only to tell her boyfriend that she’s moving out.

“So, you’re breaking up with Marvin?”

“Well, I’m moving out.”

“But are you breaking up with him?”

“Yeah,” she said, unsure of herself.


“Yes,” she said, gathering confidence in her answers, “if he doesn’t do something with his life.”

“So it is conditional! And it’s not even conditional on your feelings for him, but on something that has nothing to do with your relationship.”

Fast forward three months and Marvin is moving in with her again.

That brings us to the events that we began with — Ms. Gale hatching a plan to propose to Marvin.

“Ms. Gale, doesn’t this seem a little. . . untoward of you?”

Untoward?! You think I’m flighty!”

“The facts would support that thesis. Res ipsa loquitur.”

“I will have you know, I am not flighty! Everything I did made sense at the time.”

“I’m sure it did. But for your own sake and that of Marvin, do not propose to him because you found a nifty ring and thought of some flash-mob song based on some viral video that strikes your fancy.”

“Oh, you’re just jaded.”

“There’s a difference, Ms. Gale, between jaded and experienced.”

“You’re divorced and so you no longer believe in love.”

“I am divorced and I also am madly in love and for those two reasons I do believe in love and don’t believe in the institution of marriage. Believe me, there is a difference between the two and no they do not go together like the proverbial horse and carriage.”

“Well, I’m in love!” she said in protest.

“My dear, let me tell you about love. If you’re in love, you feel butterflies in your stomach when you kiss. If you’re in love, every single cheesy love song you’ve ever heard suddenly is actually expressing how you feel. If you’re in love, when you hear from your beloved your heart skips a beat and when you don’t hear from your beloved you break into a sweat, your heart begins palpitating, and your mind races uncontrollably. When you’re in love, it seems that the whole world is in love as well. When you’re in love, people stop you on the street to say how beautiful you look. When you’re in love, you forget to eat, you can’t sleep, and every moment of every day and night your beloved’s face is before your eyes. That’s what it is to be in love.”

She had nothing more to say.

Oh, how painful wisdom when it profits not the wise!

[From the blog:]

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Just your average nymphomaniac next door. I love fan mail:

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