Tuesday, December 6, 2011

7. The Proposal

Soon after she received Desi Arnaz's touching telegram, Lucille Ball traveled to Milwaukee to appear in a benefit. This engagement was supposed to last one night, but one night stretched in five. Desi had made her promise to return to New York immediately after her Milwaukee engagement and he became as mad as an ant on a hot pan as she was held up at Milwaukee longer than expected. Moreover, it was in November and the snow was falling down hard and quick. He became suspicious and thought she was having an affair.

Was it possible for Lucy to return to New York into Desi's arms?

One midnight, Lucy took Desi's long distance call at the hotel lobby. She was tired from working, and he was yelling into the phone, with his strange accent "I know why you're stalling, you crumbum. You're screwing the mayor. And there's a very handsome actor playing in the scene with you, Joseph Cotten. Are you screwing him? Is that why you're stalling?"

Of course, being the woman with a hot temperament, Lucy was not going to take the accusations lightly. She in turn, accused him of being involved with every woman in every town he was in, and hollered right back "I don't even know this Joseph!" She had forgotten where she was- the entire lobby was at a standstill as everyone eavesdropped on her end of the conversation. It was no mystery who the person on the other end of the line was. It so happened that Joseph Cotten walked in and immediately, Lucy said to Desi "I got to go. I'll see you first thing in the morning," and hung up.

Lucy marched up to her hotel suite, still boiling mad at Desi, and told her personal maid, Harriet that she was going to charter a private plane and leave for New York right this minute. Her maid would follow her the next day, with her clothes and other personal belongings. When she returned to the lobby, Joseph was still there-- he kindly drove her to the airport.

Braving the snowstorm, Lucy finally reached New York and checked into Hamsphire House. Exhausted, she fell into a deep lumber till noon the next year, and then waited for Desi to appear between his shows at the Roxy. Just then, a reporter requested to interview Lucy on the article "Why I Will Always Remain a Bachelor Girl". She accepted it as she wanted to keep Desi waiting-- she was still mad at him. In her hotel room, she cited all the reasons Desi and her were never going to get married, and that their differences would never be resolved. Of course, she would continue seeing him, just as friends.

Finally, the lady reporter left. The two lovebirds had not seen each other for a long time. They wasted no time but to apologize for all the nasty accusations they had made about each other, kissed, and made love, all in a hurry as Desi had to return to the Roxy and do the next show.

As Desi was dressing and leaving, he said "This girl is going to have a hell of a time with that story."

"Why?" Lucy was curious, and becoming increasingly excited.

"Because I have everything arranged to marry you tomorrow morning, if you would like to marry me."

"Where?" Lucy was lost for words.

"In Greenwich, Connecticut." He shed light on her that he had been adamant on wanting her back in New York as soon as possible because he had already postponed the elopement 5 times.

"But I thought we decided that we couldn't get married."

"That's right, but we are."

"You're kidding, right?"

"No, I'm not kidding. I want to marry you and I want to marry you tomorrow."

"Why couldn't we just live together?" she asked.

"No, I don't want to just live together. I want to marry you and I want to have some children with you and I want to have a home. I'm not like the image you have of me. Now, do you want to marry me or not?"

"Of course I want to marry you, you idiot! Aren't we supposed to wait for three days for a permit or something?"

"I got the whole thing straightened out. I've already gotten a permit, and the judge to give us an exemption. You love me, don't you?"

"I love you very much."

"I love you very much too. So what the hell else is there? I have to go now. I'll be back after the next show."

It was a hectic day for Desi. But he had never been happier. Years later, he could recall the exact details of this unorthodox and poignantly sweet proposal. So could Lucy.

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