It has become de rigueur for writers to write essays about what their parents have done to them–those vivid, haunting moments when everything changed and a young life was damaged forever. Few people, though, tell the opposing stories, the unforgivable things that we’ve done to our parents: mom’s wedding ring dropped in the toilet and flushed; dad’s convertible wrapped around a traffic light; and worse, the disowning, that time-honored tradition of deciding in our twenties that our parents are too backassward to deserve our respect.

We make amends. We grow out of our snobbery. But what I did to my father on December 28th, 1975 was more unforgivable than any of the usual offenses.

Here’s the deal:

I want to marry you. I do. I can’t find the words to explain why, but yet at the same time I can. Am I confusing you already?

You know, it’s just you. The shape of your eyes. The way you walk. It’s because you didn’t like that song. It’s because you’re smart and like the color green. It’s because you always know what’s best. It’s because you turned me onto cheesecake.

It’s the small things.

It’s always the small things.

Here’s some things you ought to consider before you decide on marrying me: I like books and Mt. Etna. I can cook and uncork wine. I can be an asshole. I like the Beatles over the Rolling Stones. Rain over religion. I like pastrami sandwiches more than I do clam chowder. In fact, I fucking hate clam chowder.

I’m addicted to vitamins. Fish oil. Super B-Complex. Iron. Vitamin D. This dope is the protégé of whiskey and weed. I’d like to think I’ve moved up in my using career. Prettied it up a bit, you know? Out of the gutter and over the counter. But I can’t say for sure.

I prefer a quiet house. I guess you can read this as me actually saying—you guessed it—I don’t like too much drama. And, well, I don’t. I know this world sucks. I know your boss sucks. And I definitely know your sister sucks. I know. I know this. So just grab a beer. Relax. Call a hotline. Do something about it. I promise I will.

I like both cats and dogs. I like them both because, well, there’s more for me to enjoy. I’d like to see it as getting more out of the day.

I also like dresses and skirts. So I won’t hassle you when you wear one.

I really don’t like sweet breakfasts. So don’t give me waffles or pancakes any of that shit. I don’t like it. I don’t like the colors, the presentation. Reds and purples. A twirl of whipped crème. A dash of powdered sugar.

I like eggs and country ham, hash browns, and wheat toast. I’ll take a buttermilk donut if you have one in the cupboard.

And: I like you.

I also like Sunday. Because Sunday doesn’t mean Jesus or the dreaded family dinner. I like Sunday because it means football. And football means happiness. And happiness means life can be navigated better.

It means the broken A/C has us sweating like pigs. But we still have the TV and Ignatius J. Reilly on the shelf. We still have heat.

It means some are innocent, but live their days guilty.

It means your boss will always suck because he’s miserable. You’d be miserable too if you woke up in his house. We all would.

It also means your sister’s a maniac, the Devil, a horrible cook, and her constant bitching about how her world is tumbling down carries the substance and weight of a baboon fart. How she’s a married woman is fucking beyond me. Oh. Sorry. Did I just say that?

It means it’s going to rain right after you washed your car. It means we’re gonna lose a parent or two. It also means the Vikings will probably never, ever, ever, win a Super Bowl.

(Sorry, Franny.)

It means that’s all right. Everything’s going to be OK.

Trust me.

It means I love you.

So. Hey. Will you marry me?