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By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian
By HERB BENHAM, Californian columnist email@example.com
He proposed to her on top of the highest hill in Norwich, England, as the sun was setting. Who knew? Who knew Sam had a romantic streak?
"Sam, how do you know she is going to say yes?" his younger brother, Thomas, asked prior to Sam buying the ring, boarding the plane and taking the train.
"I'm giving her a 30 percent chance of coming to her senses and saying no."
That's a brother for you. That's what brothers do. They provide clarity and a vote of confidence.
She said yes. God knows why she said yes, but she did.
What a long strange trip it's been.
The Grateful Dead lyric is worn, but fits. Especially with children. You start in one place, move to another and end up in a third. Sunshine, rain, fog, howling winds, you get it all. It's like the first scene in "The Wizard of Oz." One minute there is a tornado and the next, you're dancing with the Munchkins.
Then, one day, this:
"Dad, I think I'm going to propose to Lauren," Sam said a few weeks ago.
We were sitting in his house. His mother had already gone home. It was late, but never too late for this kind of conversation.
The room had been quiet before. It got quieter. You could hear the sprinklers click on outside. Crickets.
I think I said something. The announcement called for a response but other than telling him I thought it was a good idea, I didn't say much.
There are talking times and listening times. This was a listening time, and Sam was somebody who was past advice or commentary.
Four years together. That's sufficient. If you don't know each other yet, it may be that you're watching too much "SportsCenter."
I'll say this: He's lucky. She's straightforward, kind and sunny. She even wanted to invite Sam's grandparents to their Fourth of July party when Sam's grandparents were old enough to be ... Sam's grandparents.
If I'm going to use the most quoted line in the Grateful Dead catalog, I might as well dovetail into Tom Cruise and Renee Zellweger in "Jerry Maguire" when he tells her, "You complete me." Lauren completes Sam.
"Lauren is the sweetest person I've ever met," Sam said awhile back.
Game, set and match. If this one doesn't work, we should be worried about marriage. Maybe return to living in treehouses and dating between hunts.
"Sam, you tell your mother," I said that night. "That's your news to tell."
Sam did, two weeks later. He drove 200 miles from Bakersfield to Del Mar (there was the beach waiting, too) to tell her.
I've seen her happy: births of her four children, a ticket to Paris, being 20 rows from Bruce Springsteen, but this was up there.
Her tears almost set Sam off and he's not that kind of guy. That's Lauren and the "you complete me" part.
"We have to call Nancy and Alan," Sue said. "Fred and Susan called us when Hunter and Katie decided to get married. Emily Post says it's up to the groom's parents to place that call."
We did. Sue first. Sue and Nancy were enthusiastic on the phone. There's nothing women like more than the prospect of a wedding, unless it's the birth of the royal baby.
Leave it to men to throw a wet blanket on it. Men do for gloom what Johnny Appleseed did for apples.
It didn't take long after Sue handed me the phone for me to start talking about the weather. It wasn't just my lack of depth. Nancy lives in Seattle. Weather is a big deal in Seattle, especially this run of clear days they're having.
Alan and I traded messages. It was sort of a verbal high five.
That's enough for guys. We'll catch up down the line with our suits on and bounce off each other with a bro hug.
Finally, a line from "Almost Famous: "It's all happening." Happening just like everybody said it would. Babies, toddlers, children, teenagers, grownups. Careers, girlfriends, boyfriends and sometimes marriage.
Good news. It completes us.