Clean transition from casual to serious

Special to The Times

There comes a time in every relationship when you cross the invisible barrier between casual dating and something more serious. In most cases, this happens without realizing a barrier has been broken; unlike the boom that accompanies a launch beyond the sound barrier, the transition often takes place slowly, until it hits you one day that you are no longer “just dating.”

Although my girlfriend would admit surprise we’re in a serious relationship (because I never give a straight answer to anything), we’ve been there for some time. It was already serious when she met my parents, I met hers, and our parents met each other. It was serious over the holidays when my mother announced, in recognition of my girlfriend’s Jewish faith, that she decorated the Christmas tree in blues and whites in honor of “Heineken.” (Poor Mum, all that effort followed by a blooper.) Along the way, our relationship had crossed the line. There’s no “I” in couple, and we’re a team now, a package deal that gets combined invitations to dinners and weddings, and jointly addressed Christmas cards.

It would be an exaggeration to say I heard a sonic boom, but I can pinpoint the exact moment our relationship changed from casual to serious. I was in the shower. I looked on the rack and discovered soaps and lotions that had never been there before. They weren’t the travel sizes either, suggesting a temporary arrangement, but double-sized value sets like the ones sold at Costco. Their bulk heralded the transition to fully blown living in sin. At least, it appeared, we’d keep clean in the process.

Before that moment, my entire showering regimen might have been summed up in a single word: soap-on-a-rope. (Granted, without the hyphens it doesn’t qualify as a single word, but the practice was that simple.) I existed in an age of comparative austerity, where two-in-one shampoo and conditioner were the norm, and shampoos could be used as soap (and vice versa). I dove into those creams and conditioners like a man deprived. But there were so many vials of lotions and potions, it was all a bit confusing: I used face scrub to condition my hair, and foot balm on my face. My skin took on a ruddy glow, floral smell and minty flavor. And I became certain, soon after that point, I was in love.


If the appearance of product marked the transition, two equally important dates finalized it: the day we moved in together, and the night she farted in front of me.

Each pushed the needle beyond casual into the zone of serious, with the latter threatening to move it into the realm of “old married couple.”

Three years later, that’s what we’ve become, although my girlfriend argues we can’t become an old married couple until we actually get married.

So it all comes down to this:


Babe, you’re the love of my life, so will you accept my proposal? Will you . . . marry me?

Look up: I’m on my knee as you read this.

This is for real. And, boy, it’s serious.