ME: So have there been any repercussions from the I'm-engaged thing I pulled on Facebook last week?
MY DAD: Your Aunt _________ was certainly excited.
ME: That's right . . . she's on Facebook, isn't she.
MY DAD: Mmmhmm. She was excited, and by the end of the week, so was the rest of the family.
ME: Oh. (pause) So, uh . . . how many people do you think it got out to?
DAD: By now, no telling.
ME: So you think I should just, uh . . . e-mail everyone in the family and tell them it was a joke and apologize?
DAD: It's not that simple. By now it's gotten around to relatives you haven't even met. Actually, it's gotten around to relatives I haven't met, not in years, anyway.
ME: I think you're exaggerating.
DAD: Someone up in Connecticut e-mailed me "congrats" the other day and asked if you'd set a date. I e-mailed my mother to find out who this person was and she said it was one of great-granny Renshaw's nephews. Which I guess would make him my . . . second cousin? Once removed? I can ask her if you'd really like to know.
(long, awkward pause)
DAD: Your mom and I were talking, though, and there is one thing you could do to sort of, I don't know, clean all this up.
ME: What's that?
DAD: Well, have you thought about . . . actually getting engaged?
ME: Well, duh, sure I have. I mean, one of these days, I hope to meet the right girl, and we hit it off, and . . .
DAD: No no no, that's not what I mean. I mean, have you thought about just going out and getting engaged?
ME: What do you mean, "just 'going out' and getting engaged"?
DAD: I mean go out, just find a girl, and get engaged to her. For a few months. Get engaged, let everybody get excited for a little while, and then if you want you can just break it off later.
(even longer, more awkward pause)
ME: Mom, are you on board with this?
MY MOM: Well, you are 30, you're kind of at a point in your life where it wouldn't be the strangest thing that you could do . . .
ME: But, I mean, as a Catholic, doesn't that strike you as being kind of . . . disrespectful to the institution of marriage?
DAD: Not if you don't actually get married.
(long, awkward pause, not quite as long or awkward as the previous pause but still fairly long and awkward)
DAD: Look, all I'm saying is, you've got a ton of relatives out there who think you got engaged because you lied -- the least you could do is make it true for a little while. Give them a return on their emotional investment.
ME: But, OK, who would I get married to?
DAD: What about ______?
ME: She's married.
DAD: Oh, right, right.
MOM: What about her sister? The one you got the dog from?
ME: Married too. Remember? She got married before ______ did --
DAD: Didn't you date a girl for a few months you met at the park -- Amy or something? The one who had the two Boston terriers?
ME: Ugh, and who dumped me over a voice mail? Try again.
DAD: The Hooters waitress?
ME: Seeing someone, and probably not interested.
DAD: What about Holly from the thing you did last year the week of the Tennessee game?
ME: On the other side of the continent, and probably not interested either.
MOM: She was interested enough to imagine what life would be like if she was married to you . . .
ME: That's . . . not even remotely on the same planet as the same thing, Mom.
MOM: (hurt) Well, I'm not going to keep giving you ideas if you're just going to shoot them down.
(long, awkward pause, about equivalent in length and awkwardness to the preceding pause)
DAD: Look. We can go around in circles about this all evening long, but the fact is, you created a situation here, and you need to fix it. Your mom and I have given you an option, and it's yours to take or not take, but you better do something.
(long, awkward pause, longer than the preceding pause but perhaps not quite as awkward)
ME: If you'll excuse me, I'm going to go use the bathroom, and if the waitress comes back, tell her I'd like another Guinness, and two would be even better.
(excuses himself and heads into the lobby; dials phone)
HOLLY: What do you want?
ME: Hey, uh, how's it going?
HOLLY: Fine, what do you want?
ME: What makes you think I want something?
HOLLY: So you're just calling to chat?
ME: Uh, well, no.
(long, awkward pause)
ME: So, uh, the engagement-on-Facebook thing has kind of blown up in my face, and my dad's kind of riding my ass to do something about it, so I could use your help.
HOLLY: To do what?
ME: You want to, uh, get engaged? For a little while?
(awkward pause of medium length)
HOLLY: Well, look, this has been fun, but I've got a ton of cleaning to do, and . . .
ME: No no no, don't hang up, don't hang up, seriously. You want to get engaged? Just for, like, a few months? It'll placate my family for a little while, then we can break it off, no questions asked, I just have to do something . . .
HOLLY: And what do I tell my family?
ME: Same thing I'm telling mine -- and when we break it off, you can even tell them it was my fault and that I'm a huge asshole. I just need something to take the heat off for a few months.
(long, awkward pause)
HOLLY: I want a ring.
ME: Uh . . . OK . . .
HOLLY: Silver band, 'cause gold will turn my finger green, and some kind of round cut, none of that princess-cut bullshit. Oh, and I don't get out of bed for less than a full carat.
ME: Wow, uh . . . how much is that gonna cost me?
HOLLY: I don't know, how much is your family hating you for the rest of your life gonna cost you?
ME: Right, right, sorry, sorry. OK. You got a ring.
HOLLY: And I do want you to be the one who's the asshole when we finally break up.
ME: Yeah. Sure. No problem.
HOLLY: And you're gonna have to come out here and do it.
ME: What? To L.A.? Why? Why can't I just e-mail everyone and tell them the news?
HOLLY: Because my family's gonna want photographic proof -- the nice restaurant, the ring, getting down on one knee, the whole deal. I don't care about any of that, mind you, but if you want to back everything up then you're gonna have to do it. I'm going for verisimillitude here.
ME: Well, I guess since I'm headed to Vegas anyway . . .
HOLLY: Oh, yeah, and when we're all in Vegas, you buy all my drinks.
ME: For fuck's sake --
HOLLY: In case it slipped your mind, I'm the one doing you a favor here, huckleberry. Ring, in L.A., my drinks in Vegas, or I walk and good luck explaining things to your relatives.
ME: Can we go to Legoland while I'm out in California?
HOLLY: Sure, what the hell.
ME: See you on Monday.
TH-TH-TH-THAT'S ALL, FOLKS (FOR THE TIME BEING)