There are many times in a man’s life when he precipitates himself into a situation which suddenly brings him face to face with a crisis which, in the choice English of the day, “keeps him guessing.”
It is safe to assume that the real crisis of a man’s life comes when he contemplates matrimony seriously enough to dwell upon the price of fried potatoes for two, and to become absorbed in and with the installment furniture advertisements, which offer things at rates sufficiently low as to almost be an inducement to man to marry. But when the best girl replies in the affirmative and her “yes” doesn’t mean “no,” as her “no” might mean “yes,” is the time that he must act and act quick.
It is impossible to say what a man should do in this trying situation by reference to the acts of others similarly situated, because no man has ever told what he did, perhaps for the reason that he was so overcome by joy at the supreme moment of his triumph that he cannot remember any of the particulars. It is fair to assume that now two men act alike when she says “yes” at the time of the proposition to pay for her hats and other luxuries. Men being of different temperaments, it is not likely that their actions are the same.
If a phlegmatic man should act precisely as a nervous man does, or if a man 45 years old with yellow hair should act in a manner not unlike that of a man 65 years old, with a wen on his neck, it would go to prove that the business of proposal and acceptance is a very prosaic and unpoetic proceeding after all.
Then the surroundings might exert a certain influence. A plumber in the moonlight by the sobbing sea might be surcharged with halcyon dreams that would cause him to be a different sort of being from that which he might be if he were accepted in a thunderstorm while awaiting a flash of lightning to satisfy him that he is really on the earth. It is not an easy thing by a long shot to say what a man ought to do when his best girl says “yes” in response to the very important and momentous question. It would be as easy, perhaps, to say what the girl should do when the question is put to her.
It might be well to ascertain from married women how their husbands acted when they replied in the affirmative. Possibly they remember, and if such data could be obtained it would not only make fine reading, but supply a solid basis for such an article as this.
Now, how does a woman act, and what does she do when she proposes to a man and the latter says “yes?” Does she jump to see if her hat is on straight, or does she say she has forgotten her gloves in the excitement that causes her to forget that she has them on? And suppose a Mormon proposes to three women at the same time and in sporting parlance “takes three straight.”
Whatever he does, doesn’t he do three times as much of it as he would if the trio had refused him? Would he embrace all of them at once, or one at a time? If one at a time, No. 3 would be madder than No. 2. No. 2 would be madder than No. 1 and gladder than No. 3, while No. 1 would be happier than No. 2 and No. 3 combined. And if he embraced and kissed them all at once and all together, there would be no proof of favoritism and consequently no cause for jealousy, which would be unsatisfactory, as it would prove the existence of a man who could love with equal desperation and intensity three women at one and the same time.
Let us imagine the following conversation after the above purely imaginary scene:
“Why did you embrace us all at once?”
“Because,” replies the thrice happy man, “you are twice as much numerically this way.”
“But we don’t understand you.”
“Of course you don’t, but I understand my business. I consider you in the arithmetical light of one, two, three, which added together makes six. Yet shall I be happiest on that happy day that shall see us made three.”
That would be the way a man should act in the event of such a crisis.
Once upon a time, I was wandering along the seashore in the bright silvery spray of a full moon, and at my side was a languid, high-strung gazelle, who was usually gloomy and pensive as if lost in the tangles of some kind of a divine despair that defied dyspepsia tablets. Finally, we paused, and she, wringing her dainty jeweled fingers, looked at me in a way that aroused my sympathy and said:
“Why was I ever put into this weary, weary world?”
“In order,” I replied quickly, “to be a reason and an excuse for my existence.”
The crisis was safely passed a moment later. Now what did I do? Did I say: “What kind of an engagement ring do you want, and how soon do you want it; or shall we board with your mother or take a flat?” I did not say any of one of these things. I took out a memorandum book and began to write.
“What are you doing?” she asked.
“Nothing,” I replied.
With a woman’s chain-lightning intuition she said: “Are you making a memorandum of the fact that we are engaged; do you think that otherwise you would forget it, and do you think I could forget to remind you of it if you should?”
A month later, when we were back in town, I said to her:
“Do you remember how I made a memorandum that moonlight night on the Wellfleet sands?”
“I do,” she said.
“Well, it was simply a memorandum of the fact that when you asked me why you were put into this weary world, I told you it was to be a reason and an excuse for my existence, which question and answer I this day sold to a comic paper for $2 to print under a Bar Harbor society cut. Thus may you see, my dear, how the high-handed poet turns everything into gold when he has the hard horse sense of the man that sells hams on commission.”
It will thus be seen that what you should do in the crisis that ensues when your best girl says “yes” depends largely upon the nature and conditions of the crisis. it might be unwise to say just what you should do, because you would probably forget it and do something else and thus upset all calculations. It is a time when you will do something and you will always do something that will fill the bill, even if you do make a fool and a goose of yourself.
But if the best girl shall only prove to be the right girl, no matter what you do in the crisis of her acceptance, you will always say that, although you did make a fool and goose of yourself, you can still always congratulate yourself on the fact that you proved yourself a level-headed philosopher of the highest type in the long run in winning the object of your quest.