(Though--I don’t think I could get that ring away from her with a shotgun, much less by gargling salt-water.)
Here are the highlights:
We arrive at a friend’s place, as he’s moving to San Francisco and wants to rent out his condo. Nice place and Melissa likes it. That’s good...we can check that off the to-do list.
(Why am I mentioning this? You’ll see.)
The marine layer hasn’t lifted and we’ve pretty well decided that we’re going to waste a summer day indoors, watching TNT movies. Note to guys: Don’t watch "Definitely, Maybe" on the day you’re going to propose. (Who am I kidding? It isn’t appropriate on the day your going to shoot up a Kinkos either...but a movie where a guy gets rejected on two proposals is bad for your mojo.)
The weather has broken a bit. We have a 6 PM reservation (because we’re 147 years old!) so she decides that we should go for a walk...
Have I mentioned how well Melissa and I get along? It’s really amazing. I was thinking about it two days previous thinking, "With the exception of when she had oral surgery and couldn’t eat for four days, we’ve never once had a disagreement where she cried." Normally it is 2-3 dates before I make a girl cry. Here we are, a year to the day and not a tear.
Or so I thought.
She laid one of the most divinely serendipitous guilt-trips in the history of relationships on me. Gave me the "I-just-signed-another-12-month-lease. I’m-not-saying-we-have-to-get-married-right-away...I’m-not-even-saying-we-have-to-move-in-right-away...but-you-didn’t-even-make-mention-of-it. I-need-you-to-start-thinking-about-that...because-if-this-lease-ends-and-we’re-still-not-on-that-track, that’s-probably-the-end-of-the-track."
You’ve heard of the term "milking"? I squeezed every drop out of this metaphorical udder.
A few of my favorite quotes:
"I’m getting there...I mean--that’s where I want to be--I’m just not there yet."
"I don’t want to be pressured."
and the cous de gras:
"What if we got a storage unit together?"
Walk ends and I shower up for dinner. I put on a pair of cargo shorts because I figure that that is the only way to get the ring around without her noticing.
"What are you going to sneak out with some dinner rolls? Change."
I almost retorted before realizing that she doesn’t know that I have a platinum, circular, get-out-of-anything-bad-I’ve-ever-done in my pocket.
So I change.
And bring a coat.
(The coat has a ring in it.)
(An engagement ring.)
(The engagement ring I’m going to propose with.)
We’ve finished an unsurprisingly fantastic dinner at the absolutely delicious yet horrendously overpriced restaurant of my choosing and are milling post-dinner options. I suggest, "What if we went down to the bench where we had our first kiss and watch the sunset?" to which she responds, "It’s 7:10. We’d just be watching the sun. Unless you want to sit there for two hours! AND THAT’S NOT HAPPENING!"
Meanwhile, I’d brought Melissa’s favorite wine to dinner and paid the corkage fee, but there was about a glass left. We were both half-full, so when the waitress inquired whether or not we’d be having dessert, the following exchange occurs:
Me: "No, I actually baked" (key lime pie--Melissa’s favorite) "so we’ll be eating dessert at home. If you just want to finish off that wine we’ll just take the check" as I motion to our two half-full glasses.
Waitress: "Well thank you, Rose is one of my favorites." About three beats... "Oh...you didn’t mean for me, did you?"
I’m quite certain you had to be there to realize precisely how out of line she was...but as you’ll read, it’s likely the only charming moment of our engagement (or our entire wedding-planning-process) so I’m including it.
Having arrived at the bench where we first kissed, which is a lovely, lakeside bench that looks out over Lake Washington and the Seattle skyline, I realize that it is Seafair (Seattle’s fleet-week) and there are roughly 20,000 drunk boaters trying to get their parents’ boats onto a trailer within 30’ of the spot I’d decided to propose. Now I’m not one for sentiment, but the idea of my proposal being drowned out by a guy yelling, "Timbo! You get those empties out of the boat? My dad’s gonna be pissed!" just doesn’t strike me as a moment to remember.
Thinking quickly, I realize that about 100 yards away, there is a quiet, secluded hill in a park with a similar view...we’re headed that way.
Apparently an ugly family knows of the hill. And has invited all of their relatives for a picnic.
We drove about two miles north to a less-populated park along the lake that we go to frequently on summer days to watch first-time mothers’ breasts fall out of their hopelessly small bathing suits and listen to pre-diabetic children scream at their 2nd-generation, illegitimate hispanic fathers for not buying them a snowcone. (They are in fact legitimately hispanic. Their birth has not been legitimized via marriage. Try to keep up.)
Truth be told, it is a great viewpoint for a sunset. And voila! There are 5 open benches.
I’m going to pee...we’ll reconvene shortly.
It was a long pee. Sue me.
I walk out of the restroom expecting to see Melissa outside the door or seated on one of the five wide-open benches on the shoreline.
But she’s not there.
She’s on the dock.
That’s a problem.
Well if a dock were over land, it would be called a "porch", and I’d be fine with it. But unfortunately, they’re over water, and shaky-handed balding men after 3 glasses of pink girl wine are known for dropping expensive rings into water.
She thinks I’m insane, but I’ve lured her to the shore. She probably thinks that I really like the jacket I’m carrying at my side with the stranglehold of a boa constrictor.
Having waited for a very loud, very fat 14-year-old girl to finish chasing around the kids that hangout with her now (but will avoid her like the Ebola Virus when they start high school in a month) to clear out, everything kind of went blank.
I wasn’t nervous.
I didn’t tremble.
I just dropped to a knee and said...
Well neither of us has any idea what I said. (And I’m not holding out, I genuinely don’t remember. I think it was something about "like a dinosaur to a tar pit, I’m drawn to you"...but about a ten minute period is completely blank.)
Though she did cry. And laugh. And there was a snort or two...which I’m totally into.