UPDATE: This is my most popular post yet so far. We’ve had so much fun reading your comments! If you haven’t commented, don’t be shy… My wife’s side of the story is here
In most situations, you only get one shot at it. And that one shot will be remembered for a lifetime––and not just by you either. If done right, it will entirely, maybe even permanently, melt the hearts of everyone that hears how it all went down. Fittingly, tears of felicitous joy should be shed as the shear romantic beauty of it soaks into one’s soul. Then, your own fond memories of how it went down for you and yours cascade through your own sense of presentness, stirring even more emotion. This ‘it’ is no small matter.. It’s once. It’s emotion. It’s commitment. It’s love. And it will never be forgotten. It’s a precise point in time. A pinpoint in time that is preparatory to the melding of an eternity past with an eternity future. (How’s that for an intro with literary-ness).
What the heck am I talking about? So… if the dude gots his head on straight, ‘it’ means a whole heck of a stinking lot.. it’s like one of the most masculine (but romantic) duties that you can dutifully fulfill in this typically unromantic life. You do it with your own kinda style and with careful, precise, and planned measures.
Forget the wordy intro. I’m freaking engaged and stuff to the coolest woman on earth. And I’m about to tell you how it went down. This is not a short story. It was not an easy thing. Neither was it a quick and easy thing.. as you will see. It took a full 8 hours to go down.
In hindsight, though, the hilarity is quite singular. Since I can’t possibly recount the chronicles of last night in person, I figured I’d do the next most gentlemanly thing and write them (took me 8+ hours). Post them. And you’ve received the link.
This is long… If you do make it through, please leave a comment at the end letting us know you were here. It doesn’t matter if we don’t even know you or if you aren’t family, we would love to hear from you. Just click on ‘add a comment’ at the bottom.
But first, hold on to your hearts and pay attention. This is a fun ride. Don’t distract yourself by trying to multi-task while reading this. It won’t have the same effect. Please.. feel free to laugh and cry as you may. This is worthy of both gestures. I’ve done both while writing this so you can do the same while reading it.
This is how it went down..
The Build Up…
When a couple breaks the M-word barrier (when they start talking about ‘marriage’ without referring to it in code names) and leaks the news to their mothers so that, in turn, the tenacious planning gets under way, the dude loses the element of surprise… unless he’s conniving. An expected proposal for marriage, in my book, just doesn’t have the same affect. Surprise, ingenuity, etc., is the general rule. A dude must still encourage the element of surprise, shock, and awe even if ‘it’ is expected.
I had been working on prepping and preconditioning Janica and almost everyone else to assume that for various reasons I was going to wait till the last minute to ask her to marry me (though we’d been planning the wedding for weeks and most everyone we know was expecting to hear the news anytime). I also made an effort to quench and reformulate unsuspecting Janica’s expectations about the ring, so that I could “under promise and way over deliver,” in a shock and awe-like manner. Over deliver like a whole lot and stuff… like a good salesperson would.. all to achieve the desired affect. I was secretly anxious and almost over zealous to get on with it, to be ‘official.’ This last week I’d been impatiently waiting for the ring to be finished. That was the only hold up.
I decided to design the ring myself. I went in a did the whole deal without telling anyone. I had previously found out Janica’s size and taste. Turns out the ring I had been imagining in my mind for years would fit her tastes just right. I was still incredibly nervous that for some reason she wouldn’t like it. I so wanted to get it right the first time without having to exchange it for something else.
Being a semi-romantic dude, for the last long while (I ain’t know how long) I’d been thinking about how to help it all go down right. I was thinking about how to do my duty thing just right––romantic, surprise, shock, awe, hyperventilation, eye-fanning, etc. I’m conniving and calculating when it comes to these things. And I had an idea that was perfectly genius (I’m assuming it was genius, I didn’t ask anyone’s opinion really).
Little did I know, the whole deal went down far different than I had planned it would… far, far different. And that, my friends, makes all the difference.
Earlier in the week I had innocently asked Janica if she wanted to go have a picnic at the beach one evening and watch the sun set. There was nothing atypical about such a thing. She unassumingly said that would be agreeable. I was hoping that would happen Wednesday night. That was not to be because the dadgum ring wasn’t done yet.
Yesterday, Thursday, September 18th, was my first day as an employee, in a very long time. That.. was weird. I’ve been so used to working for myself. Luckily, I love what I do at SEO.com. I’d been doing it for free for a long time and now I get paid for it.. and I still do it for free in my spare time.
About half way through my first day I get a call from the diamond store. Janica’s ring is ready. I lost all focus for the rest of the day. The minutes creeped by… not crept, creeped… like a creep would creep.. haunting me.
I couldn’t wait any longer to axe her to marry me. I made the decision right then that it was going down that night. (Insight: In case you don’t know me very well, once I decide to do something, I usually don’t stop until I get it done.. I had a real bad case of that one-track-mindedness yesterday). I left work a bit later than I had planned for. That put me behind from the start.
It was 5:30 p.m. The sun would go down in one hour and forty-five minutes and I needed the sun to complete the romantic affect I desired. The weather was perfect. I had my idea. But I had no materials. I needed some props to pull it off. So I go hunt for some props.
First stop: The most important prop. The diamond store all the way across town. Check.
It’s 6:00 pm.
Second stop: I have no idea.
Now, I’m not an arts-and-craftiness-oriented person. I don’t spend much time in Michael’s or Joann’s or Robert’s. So when I needed ‘props’ I could only assume where they would most likely be found. For reasons that will be explained, I needed a corked bottle, some packaging string or twill, and parchment paper. That’s it. Simple right?
I went to all those previously named stores, along with Bed, Bath & Beyond, and Pier 1 Imports. A simpler thing would have been to hop on down to the nearest booze place and buy some booze right? Would have saved me an hour.
It’s 7:00 p.m.
The bottle ended up being only seven or eight inches high and really skinny, with thick glass. Would it float? Maybe my physics are off here… In any case, if it was going to do the trick, it needed a note stuffed inside it.. a crafty-ish one with some choice words that would be like a romantic moment lubricant. I wrote the choice words on the choice parchment, antiqued paper and I jimmy-rigged the string so the finder of the bottle would be able to pull the choice note out. Foreshadowing the frustrations to come, the dumb thing wouldn’t fit. I wrote another note, this time one a smaller piece of paper with smaller handwriting. After rolling up the paper and jimmy-rigging the string.. wouldn’t fit.. and the string slipped off. So how do I get the paper out?… Hmmm… The third time. With an even smaller piece of paper (the last sliver of paper I had) and smaller writing.. It fit. Barely. So I popped on the cork, leaving a tag end of the string hanging out of the bottle.
I had my prop done, all fancied up with an uber-romantic note on the inside. It was 7:15 p.m. I was sweating. But I wouldn’t be sweating for long because the sun was going down, taking all the romantic mojo with it.
What to do with the bottle? Luckily, I was already at Utah Lake, where I’d planned for it to go down. I’d bought the stuff and headed there to assemble the prop. I got out of the car and ran to the only 30’ stretch of beach and quickly found the softest 16 square feet of sand.. the only patch of sand on that rocky beach. For picnic purposes, that was where we would set out the blanket and eat our gourmet tuna fish sandwiches that Janica was preparing. We’d texted each other, coordinating dinner. I half buried the bottle in the sand as if it had been misshapenly washed ashore. I would help her happen upon it when the opportune moment presented itself.
The sun had already sunk past the horizon. I had only minutes left of romanticism, as the brightening sunset would shortly follow the sinking sun. I sped home and picked up Janica. At this point I’m still sweating. I haven’t shaved. My breath is… miscalculated that one. And let me just say that my mind wasn’t set on conducting slick-like-a-cat conversation, though I knew that was important to disguise my plight.
My mind was going a thousand miles a minute. How do I ask her? Knees? Sitting down? How should I give her the ring? Where should I put the ring. How do I keep the ring from her? Do I hide it? What do I say to introduce this mysterious little green corked bottle with a message in it without her suspecting anything? Is she on to me? Is the bottle safe? Would anyone walk off with it? There were tons of fisherman there… How long is the sunset going to last? Will it still be romantic? Does my breath smell that bad? (Luckily, I found a mint a bit later in the mess that is my car, another miscalculation). Will she like the ring? What if she thinks this production of mine is cheesy?
I thought about a lot of things on the way back to Utah Lake and my little ‘setting.’ I thought about everything, or did I? I failed to consider romanticism’s arch-nemesis, the blood sucking killer mosquito hoard at Utah Lake. We got out of the car. Walked to the spot. Set out the blanket. Sat, and promptly lost six quarts of blood. In an instant, billions of mosquitoes everywhere.. completely everywhere.. on everything.. sucking dry every square inch of uncovered skin. It wasn’t going down like that. No way. We ran back to the car and sheltered ourselves. We spent a couple minutes killing the mosquitoes that managed to make it in to the car with us.
The tuna fish was surprisingly good. I had my fill, but the mosquitoes didn’t. They were stacking up ten-high on the windows, begging us to emerge. I’d never seen so many. I’d never seen so much opposition come from such little things. Jumanji? We drove away, and consequently drove them off.. the windows at least. Mosquitoes dissipate when it gets dark. They only live one night, if they’re lucky. So I was going to wait a bit and try again when they weren’t as thick. We drove around going to the edge of the jetty and back. The bugs weren’t letting up. It was now 8:15 p.m. September the 18th. The light faded. It was dark. The bottle was still in the sand.
Immediately my mind was racing. How can I fix this and still salvage the ‘it’. I could still pull it off if I found some other body of water close by without miniature oppositions everywhere. But first, I must retrieve the bottle. I stopped the car and said to Janica,”I’m going to go see how bad it is now.” I jumped out of the car and went to where I’d hid the bottle. I couldn’t see it anywhere. It was dark.
Awkward amount of time passes.
I finally find it and Janica finally sees me duck down to the sand and pop back up. I have it. I test the cork lid to see if it’s snug. It wouldn’t come lose. I try harder. Stuck. I try harder. Half the cork comes loose, breaking off in my hand. I can’t get the cork out. How would she? At another awkward interval, while I was supposed to be testing the bug density, I finally just twist the cork loose instead of popping it. I can only imagine what she’s thinking at this point. I’m losing my mind.
I run back to the car. Awkward conversation ensues, riddled with random humming of a Coldplay song and singing to the radio as an excuse for not talking. Good way to distract the conversation I thought. After an eternity, I say, “Gosh dang it! I really wanted to go on a walk tonight. Where can we go on a walk?” I needed a place with water too pull it off.
Six options that were close to Utah Lake with little to no mosquitoes: Campus, campus, campus, campus, the park by Wal*Mart, or the mental hospital (at this point I really felt like I belonged at the Utah State Mental Hospital anyways). Campus would give me the highest degree of probability. Janica even suggested the park by Wal*Mart. When she did, I asked, “Does it have a fountain?” She has no idea why I want a ‘fountain.’ I had askedfor a ‘walk’ not a ‘fountain.’ She looks at me as if I’ve completely lost it. I had. But I was undeterred. It was going down tonight somehow.
What would have been…
So, I’m sure you’re all wondering what I would have done had the Utah Lake bit played itself out flawlessly. So here goes..
After eating the gourmet picnic staring into the setting sun, I help Janica happen upon the mysterious corked bottle. “What the heck is that? That’s curious. I’ve never seen a bottle like.. it still has a cork in it! Check it out!” She grabs it. Examining, she finds a string that is connected with sumpin inside. At the end of the string, she sees a little rolled up sumpin. She uncorks. Pulls the string. Unwinds. Reads. Ahhhhh…. She screams, fans her eyes and hyper-ventilates.
Here’s where it would have gotten real good. She wasn’t expecting much as far as a ring goes. I would have gotten down on one knee and asked her just as straight as you can ask a woman to marry you. (I figure you don’t need to mess around with colorful language at this juncture, not a time for flowery-ness). She says ‘Yes.’ A very simple word––dignifiedly so.
But the ring? Ah yes the ring. Wink. This is my shear romantic geniusness. I would take the string, size it right, wrap it round her ring finger and say “Here’s to a beautiful start.” Then hold her for a while. Knowing Janica, she’d be happy with a string ring… for a while at least. Count of Monte Cristo anyone? Bomb show. Love it. The author of the book and the screenwriter stole that idea from me…
While watching the sun set.. time for a walk. The south side of the marina has a very long right angled jetty. I take her all the way to the end, out where it’s private. Sitting on the huge rocks, watching the fading light of the sun, I reach in my pocket and pull out the first of three rings that make up the ring. It’s a band with channel set princess cut diamonds, beautiful on its own. I knew she would be happy with that alone. In silence, I’d slip off the string and put on the ring.
***Pause for the affect***
On the way back, we stop again to rest on the rocks. Stealthily, out comes the engagement ring with the super sparkly––again in silence. Normally a band and an engagement ring would make up a ‘wedding set,’ But I wanted a particularly symmetrical ring so there was one last piece I would save until the opportune moment. I wanted that moment to be on the doorstep of her apartment (across the street from my house) where all the poignant stuff in our relationship happened. And there it would be. Perfect. Simple. Affective. Surprising. All that good stuff. But see, it ain’t work out that way.
Back to Reality…
I’ve got the engagement ring safely in the chest pocket of my button up shirt. The other rings in my pant pockets. We’re cruising in my car up center street toward home, which is uber close to campus. We park the car at my house. She drops off stuff. I fix myself real fast. (Brush teeth, hair, smell-me-good-sauce, all that jazz… cuz it’s going down).
On the way up the hill to campus, I ask her where she’d like to go. I asked about ‘that place up there.’ I acted like I hadn’t been to the new waterful/river/creek manmade concoction up by the bell tower on the extreme northeast side of campus. It’s beautiful and watery so I figured it’d functionize just right to set the right mood. I succeeded in helping her want to show me this new cool place.. a place complete with water and stuff, which was what I needed to pull off the message in a bottle. This was emergency on-the-fly backup plan number one.
I’m about to get carpel tunnel syndrome, however you spell that, I don’t care. I ain’t even half done yet, but I’m still in love with Janica.
That cool place up by the bell tower is only three inches from a small city worth of freshman. They are everywhere and they are young. They’re always out at night traipsing around doing an-extension-of-high-school kind of stuff, in a kosher mormon kinda way.
Based on that possibility alone, I was worried about privacy and interruption for sure. My plans for privacy were further disrupted by a massive World of Dance show that let out precisely as we hit campus. Now, hoards of people mixed with the hoards of freshman. There’s been nothing but hoards of things all night. Crazy.
We proceed. Again, awkward conversation. My mind is rolling on despite the silence. What to do? I just have to give it a shot and hope for the best. At least I smell good and my breath is fresh. But how can I get the bottle in the water without here knowing? How will she find it?
I have had the bottle in my pocket the whole time, since I picked it off the beach. The whole night, I consciously kept that side of me away from Janica. I had left my cell phone and my wallet at home to make room in my pockets for the bottle and the camera.
It’s 9:45 p.m.
We get up to the cool place and it’s not too terribly non-private. Cept there was this dude with his head phones on sitting on the precise bench I had envisioned in my mind. that was the bench. The dude happens to be a freshman dude from Janica’s home town that used to be on Jeopardy. What a coincidence. I hope he doesn’t think I’m a jerk…
Instead of the bench, which was under a street lamp (I really wanted/needed the lamp because the writing on the paper in the bottle was super small and she’d need to read it without any problems), we walked up closer to the waterfall thingy. Beautiful it is. Loud too. Rushing waters. I think to myself, “Self, can I just throw the bottle in the waterfall and hope it floats down stream? or that it would clank on the rocks and attract her attention?” The bottle had to be durable, but how durable? Would it float. I didn’t know.
We snap some pics on the rocks by the waterfall. Awkward amount of time spent there. Lots of awkwardness everywhere around. More couples come and peruse the scene. Finally, I decide against throwing the bottle in the river, at least right there by the waterfall. I’m planning ahead… I threw some random rocks in first, making big splashes, so that throwing things in the water wouldn’t be out of place or questionable if I decided to throw the bottle in the water a bit later.
We walk back to the bench, now unoccupied and still fully lighted. We sit. I think, while humming randomly, and making complete nonsensical comments about ducks and things. There were ducks everywhere. They quack.
More awkward time passes. Millions of awkward milliseconds passed by. Couples kept passing by. More freshman. No privacy anywhere. Salvage the proposal? How would I do it? At this point, she’s got to be on to me. There’s no way I could be this awkward, this long, without her suspecting.
I thought to ask her “how’s your imagination?” And then ask her to close her eyes and imagine that she turned around and found a mysterious bottle on the beach instead. Then the bottle would appear behind her on the sidewalk. Lame. I actually did ask her about her imagination and she was adamant about answering it even after I’d blown the question off without her having to answer it. That was a hint that she was on to me. The element of surprise was slipping away quickly.. in fact, it was long gone. Though I didn’t know for sure. No matter, it was going down.
I needed at least to try to get the bottle in the water. How to do it? Here it is: I forgot my camera on the rock… I really didn’t but I ‘did.’ I tell her so and run to where we were sitting, near the waterfall. I put the camera on the rock, turned away for a split second, and went back for it so I wouldn’t be flat out lying. I was over by myself, in the dark, while she was sitting on the bench, under the light, texting her sister.
Now is my chance to get the bottle in the water. I walk half way back to the lighted bench, to where a huge boulder would somewhat break the line of site between me and her. I duck down close to the water. It’s clear, over a foot deep, with a slight current. Maybe just enough that if the bottle floats, it would drift down toward Janica and the lighted bench. Perfect.
I lean over close to the water and gently drop the bottle in, expecting it to bob back above the surface. My physics were wrong. Duh. No way the little amount of air that the bottle contained would float that thick glass. Too late. It disappeared, falling straight to the bottom.
The bottle was corked so the message would be safe to use again, if I could just get the bottle back. (I didn’t think that ripping off half the cork would weaken the cork enough to let water seep in). The bottle is still in over a foot of water and I can’t see it. There was just barely not enough light to see the little bottle on the bottom. There was a glare on the water and what light there was refracted itself so the bottom of the creek was distorted. I leaned closer to the water to try and abate the glare…
As if nothing was meant to go right, the inevitable happens. In that instant, time stood still. Almost on cue, as I bent down closer to the water, my huge investment and token of love for Janica came hopping out of my chest pocket, where it had sat silently. Maybe it too was impatient with me. It seemed to be laughing.. mocking me with all its simple splendor. The ring bounced off of a rock and plopped into the same water that swallowed my bottle.
It vanished… Worry sets in… then panic.
Despite the pending doom of wasted money and a botched engagement, I managed to chuckle to myself. I felt around for the ring. Thank goodness BYU takes good care of their water works. There was no silt on the bottom for the ring to sink in to. I felt around and quickly got the return of my investment. But the bottle?
There was no other alternative. I wanted to act like I tripped and fell in the water just to add to the irony of the moment. But then I’d have to walk all the way home with wet shoes. And I liked those shoes. I quickly stripped off my socks and shoes and rolled up my jeans and jumped in. Janica is still on the bench all by herself. I felt around and found the bottle standing vertically on the bottom of the creek.
The bottle made it safely back into my pocket. (The water would slowly seep into the bottle through the cork and ruin the note). At this point, it was actually quiet and still all around me. For once… no people. But I hadn’t gotten my ducks in a row.
So, I would just have to pull the ‘imagination’ card I’d previously decided against and play my hand. I came back over to Janica with bare feet, my jeans rolled up, my socks and shoes in my hand, and the bottle tucked in my pocket. She looked at me as if we should have gone to the mental hospital and had her walking home alone. I can only imagine how weird I must have seemed. I was tortured and tired and I just wanted to propose to the girl of my dreams. Please!!
Again we sit. And I with my internal debate as to what in Sam Hill do I do with this butchered situation. I’ll just out and ask her. Forget the bottle. Forget the romance. Forget the surprise. I just want her. I just held her for a while. Seconds later, there comes laughter from my two-o’clock. The laughter gets closer. Sounds like freshmen laughter. You know, the ‘we don’t have a care in the world’ laughter. They’re walking towards us. No privacy.
It was 10:37 p.m.
The kids have freshmanmade boats dangling from their freshman fingers. They come closer and closer. There’s ten of them. Much laughter. Much annoyance. They line up their boats in the water at the head of the little manmade creek, right by us. Camera flashes. Laughing. Freshmen talk. GO!!! Cheering. They are racing their boats down the creek.. Keep racing and racing. It’s a Thursday night. I don’t understand.
I wait. Still wanting to propose to beautiful, patient, understanding and extremely long suffering Janica. But alas, I abandon my plight at the cool place. For over an hour I battled the odds there and came up beaten. There were three other decently romantic ‘bodies of water’ on the way home and thus four more chances, because the door step would be the last resort. All the people who attended the World of Dance production were long gone.
We walk away from the cool place.
Forth to last chance: The little water display between the Museum of Art and the Fine Arts Building. The one with the creepy, weird statues and stuff. That would have been and easy spot. The water is right by the little bench I was thinking of. We approach. There’s two people wrapped all up in themselves already occupying the bench, in it’s entirety. At this point, if they would have left some room, I would have shared the moment with them and proposed to Janica there. We walk away from the forth to last chance.
Third to last chance. The pseudo-neoclassical courtyard at the JFSB. This should have been my last resort because I’ve had a history there already. This is one of my favorite spots. Again, propriety was lost to me at this point. I just wanted to get it done. I hurt emotionally and I was exhausted mentally. We get to the beautiful JFSB fountain…
Immediate shock, awe, and disbelief…
Introducing the ironic/comic relief moment of the century: Already on his knee, was a little boy who was proposing to a very big girl. Shock and awe. But not the shock and awe I was looking for. That ruined it for me. Flat out killed it dead. Not an once of romance was left in me at this point. I had no words. More awkward meaningless mumbling conversation covered up my disgust and frustration.
It was 11:10 p.m.
Second to last chance. The cliche chocolate duck pond south of campus. Eww! I didn’t care. After that last seen of romantic carnage, we were quickly on our way. We passed the old President’s house, which now has a nice garden with a bench we’d occupied once upon a good time. I thought to occupy it once again and end my torture there. No.
We continued down past the Maeser Building, the most iconic building on campus. I considered just sitting on the steps there and popping the question. No. I was headed for the sloping spread of lawn on the south side of the Maeser building where Janica and I had had some meaningful chats. I thought that would be it. Finally!! Peace, privacy, and love. I liked that option better than the chocolate duck pond.
Denied. Two girls who enjoyed each other’s company way too much shot out in boisterous laughter immediately as we approached. Kicking and screaming laughter. The ab work out kind. The kind of laughter you need a gym membership for. Good for them. To me, this was no laughing matter. I no longer cared about the pond. I was tired of walking. Tired of thinking. Tired of the stupid bottle in my pocket. Tired of planning. Tired of caring.. and still in love.
A refreshing familiarity.
…Still walking hand in hand, with the bottle in my left pocket. She has perfect hands.
It was 11:30 p.m.
With the last vaporized fumes in my emotional gas tank.. here goes one last shot from the hip. It was going down. I had already made the decision early and I don’t back down. It was going down. It was going down, romantic or not. I’m not even thinking about the bottle at this point. I would just use the three ring staggered shock and awe approach, without the string ring. That’d work. The bottle stays in the left pocket. We sit on the porch…
As if on cue once more, less than 30 seconds later… random person 1 walks by… Random person 2… Person 3… Random couple… Rinse and repeat over and over. No privacy. No romance. Whimsically typical. What else could I expect? So we just sat and sat… on the porch perch.
One of Janica’s best friends and roommate then comes out of a neighboring house and makes straight for us. She is a red head. And a gleeful conversation follows. Of course she is an innocent bystander and has no clue what’s going on. I hadn’t told a soul what I was up to that night. On the bright side, Janica was probably relieved that somebody had common sense enough to talk to her like a normal human being should. I should have been sleeping in white-sheeted bed at the mental hospital.
As if irony had been the mainstay of the evening, Janica’s roommate dares to ask me in a hushed, low whisper, “Hey, you got the ring yet? When you going to ask her? Get on with it will ya!!” If she only knew…
Now, where we live is quite the social place. Three is a crowd, and when there’s a crowd, a gathering shortly commences. One of my best friends sees the crowd and comes over with his computer to rip off some free wireless internet. He sits on the porch with us three. Now we’re four.
Janica’s roommate asks him about the current financial crisis… I was doomed. This was not going to be a short conversation. He’s a financial planner for Merrill Lynch, which company just got bought by Bank of America at $29 a share. “The current financial disaster has it’s roots in the sub-prime mortgage melt down. Do you know what a sub-prime mortgage is?…” And so it goes on and on. Frustration builds to a boiling point… I just wanted one whole minute of semi-romantic privacy. I’m feeling tossed to and fro with every wave of incidental indecency. I am almost numb to it at this point.
Then out comes the entire neighborhood to play with us.
It’s not long before we’re eight, instead of four. Ten. Twelve. The bottle was still buried in my left pocket, safe and unused. My heart, after ripping itself out of my chest, fell on the ground, exhausted and abused. Each new person that joined us to chill out on our signature porch perch stepped on it, sat on it, and made it hurt.
It was over.
It was 11:45 p.m.
I take Janica inside and I say goodnight. I just wanted to hold her forever and cry on her shoulder. She had no idea what I was going through for her. I gave her a kiss goodnight. and let her slip from my grasp. She went to bed. I stashed the bottle and joined the party on the porch outside her place, though not part of me wanted to party.
Everyone was laughing, joking. I was crying inside, struggling to smile at anything. I don’t remember saying a word to anyone. I stood with my hands in my pockets, the bottle no longer there.
I wandered home.
Thoughts. Thoughts. And thinking.
I had resolved to ask Janica to marry me. A raging inferno of debate continued inside my mind and heart. My thoughts festered my heart ached. Wait… I can salvage this. What about the element of surprise? What about romance? Shock? Awe?
Ahhhh… It was perfect.
I would wait until they all went to bed. I would wait until the party dissipated.. until the porch perch was cleared of its community riffraff and we could be alone and together… finally. I would call Janica on the phone until she answered. Her phone would not be on silent. I, knowing well this girl whom I wanted for my wife, knew her phone wasn’t on silent because she uses it as an alarm every night. I would call repeatedly if need be. Yes! Repeatedly. There was no escaping me this time.
She would descend the stairs, half asleep and unawares. Upon opening the door she’d find me on the porch perch all by myself… with nobody around… on my knee… and it would go down with shock and awe. This was nothing how I’d planned it from the start.
Because… if she was on to me and suspecting sumpin was up, surely her hopes would have been dashed as I kissed her goodnight. She’d never expect me to wake her up out of a deep sleep. So that’s what I was gunna do. Bling.
I waited and waited. Thursday was drifting into Friday morning. The party slackened not. Laughing, screaming, laughing, talking. Unabated. I wandered back over to join the fray and maybe encourage a bedtime.
It was 12:15 a.m.
I’d been trying to ask Janica to marry me for the past 7 hours.
Minutes later, another friend shows up. He pops the trunk of his sweet Audi IS4 and pulls out some bedding––Pads, blankets, sleeping bag––and slaps them down on the driveway across the street from where we were. This was a familiar seen. Untimely, but familiar nonetheless. Huh? Three and a half years ago, he used to live next door to me, which is across the street from where Janica lives.
Back in those days, he and his roommates liked to sleep out front on the driveway during the summer nights. This particular night was beautiful, still about 74 degrees. A beautiful night. He’d since moved away but randomly got the itch to sleep under the stars, on the driveway of his old place. This is the only night, of which I am aware, that he’s come back to sleep on the driveway since he’d moved out three and a half years ago. He couldn’t have picked a more disastrous evening to be sleeping on the streets.
***Pause while this last shred of irony sinks in***
He would be sleeping exactly across the street from where I was to propose to Janica. There would be no privacy at any interval that night, for he would surely be privy to my public proposal on the porch perch.
What could I have done more?
It was over.
Janica was in bed. Sleeping beauty. Yet still there would be no privacy on the porch perch.
My personality kicks in again. Getrdone you pansy! I ain’t no quitter bro! I ain’t quit.. ever! As if there was some type of competitiveness within myself, against myself. Again, the same worn out thoughts still thinking themselves through the synapses in my brain. Thinking…
What about the element of surprise? What about romance? Shock? Awe?
Ahhhh… it was perfect.
I asked if I could use the Audi for a few minutes. With a wink, the street sleeping friend agreed to let me take it for a spin. He thought I was just going to take it for a spin. I call Janica…
Phone ringing… Ringing… Ringing…
“Huh.. Hello?” Barely a whisper.
“Hey Girl! How you doin?”
(From somewhere I was able to muster a happy voice. This was it. I knew it. There was no possible way anyone or anything was going to interfere this time. It’d be just me and her. And she wouldn’t be expecting it… shock and awe)
“I was almost asleep.”
“Get dressed and come down stairs. I wanna show you sumpin.”
A few minutes later she emerges. The party still going on. She sees me in front of her house, in the driver’s seat of the Audi, beckoning her to get in. We were going for a ride in a far sweeter car than my own. This would be a treat for sure. She would think that the reason I woke her up was to go for a joyride in the Audi IS4. It would be a joyride, just not the kind she’d be suspecting.
Now, where to go?
I sift through my mental phone book of potential romantic sites in Provo. I compromise. I just wanted flowers, wherever and whenever I could find them. I didn’t care about the place anymore.
She’s in the passenger seat wondering if I’ll finally make my way home, to check myself in at the Utah State Mental Hospital. I’m taking corners and testing the throttle as if that’s the show for the evening. I make conversation about how bomb the car is.
We end up in the parking lot below the Y mountain trail. I park for 15 seconds. I didn’t see any flowers and I didn’t want to share the moment with a dozen other parked people.
We drive on. Fun.
I find flowers. Not where I’d thought they’d be.
It was almost perfect though. It was simple. The flowers looked like daisies, Janica’s favorite flower. In a rush of adrenaline and masculinity, I remembered my sacred romantic duty. This was it. The saga ends here.
I flip the car around and pull over… parking completely crooked. I didn’t care. It was dark, nobody around. We were finally alone and unencumbered by mosquitoes, freshmen, or community riffraff.
We’d pulled over next to a vacant lot on an empty street.
Finally, a finality to stamp on this 8 hour escapade.
Now parked. She wonders what the heck is going on. I say one, romantic, pointed phrase in explanation.
“Get out of the car.” (I was playing for the shock and awe at this point).
Lest I forget my propriety. I end up opening the door for her…
The flowers were right there. I reach to break off a flower. As Janica watches, I struggle to break off the flower. Embarrassment anyone? The affect of the uncooperative flower in light of what I was about to do…
Finally it breaks free. She’s still looking at me wide-eyed and wonder-filled. Still wondering about my sanity. (As if this was the blandest story, to add some salt, turns out I’d subconsciously picked the ugliest, most busted, unkempt flower of the bunch.. I picture Sigmund Freud rolling over in his grave). That just warmed my heart.
With the flower clutched in my fingers, I pause and look at her. She’s beautiful. There was something about this moment that just made her more beautiful than I’d ever seen her. The street light shown down on us as if it was held in place by heaven’s angels. It was as if I was emotionally coming home after I’d been away for years at sea.
“This is for you.. [pause] Janica, what I’ve been trying to do this whole night is propose to you.”
“Are you serious?!?!?!?”
I smile. This was my time to shine y’all. I wanted to keep the question simple. I could have been wordy, but it would have killed the affect.
I take her hand. Hit the knee. And ask her using the most traditional language possible.
In response, she says just one word. A dignified, simple word.
All in one motion, I have the first of the three rings that would make up the whole ring in my hand.
In another motion, I slip it on her finger.
“Here’s to a great start.”
“It’s gorgeous.” She said.
I hold her off the ground. A simple kiss on the forehead for her.
“Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!” She whispers into my ear. I smile to myself. Precious moment.
She would have been content with that one ring. I knew that. But again, all in one motion, I slip the engagement ring on her finger. (I got the ‘all in one motion’ thing down).
“I hope this fits on there too.”
“What???” She asks softly in disbelief.
I hold her again. Simple kiss.
All in one motion I pull out the third piece and in silence slip that one on her finger. She’s utterly speechless and almost hyperventilating at this point.
She loves the ring… She loves the ring! She loves the ring!!!
That’s what I’m talking about. A swell of pride and testosterone…
Felicitous joy. Permanent smiles… Giddy little grown up schoolchildren.
We’d been gone only 15 minutes.
It was 1:03 a.m.
For sake of this marathon story extending even longer, this is where the proposal story ends. Naturally, upon finding out the news, people freak out. There was a lot of freaking out that night. And not just by Janica and me. Back at the party scene, Janica’s sister was the first to know.. then it snowballed.
Now, at this point I’m certainly relieved, exhausted, and absolutely overjoyed. It’d been a terribly beautiful night. Waves of fluctuating emotions. The day had been difficult. I was met with frustration after frustration, stifled at every turn. Yet I continued. The end was beautiful.
After looking at the ring, which Janica loved to show off, the next question people asked was how it went down. Hmmm… I had no simple answer for that, seeing how’d I spent the last 8 hours proposing to Janica.
As I recounted the story the first time, the raw entertainment value began to sink in a
nd lacking the energy to recount the story over and over to every inquirer, here I sit, typing.
Now she got the ring bling thing.
The ‘big day’ happens on November 29th. We couldn’t be happier. Seriously.
I am in love with Janica. Period.
P.S. If you read all the way to this point, Janica and I have taken up a lot of your time. I only ask that you please take up some of our time and write a comment or two below. We’d love to hear your two cents! We’ve enjoyed so much your comments! Keep ‘em coming!!
UPDATE: Again, congratulations on making it all the way through. Go get your reward… Janica has decided to publish her side of the story. The plot thicken-izes… right here. And as always if you like this kinda of stuff you can subscribe to the RSS feed or get automatic updates via email so you won’t miss any future crazy stuff.
This story has also been published. Check it out on Amazon Kindle.
Much love and smiles to you,