More often than not, that's the question my girlfriend* and I are asked after we let someone know that we're getting married. People want to know how the proposal went down because they're expecting this big, elaborate story. If that's what a proposal's supposed to be, then I failed miserably.
Here's the short(er) version: After living together for five-plus years (dating for six), Liz and I discussed the possibility of getting married in a very pragmatic way. On the drive back from a week's stay in Atlantic City, I remember broaching the subject with: "So, we should probably look into getting married at some point, huh?"
"I guess we could do that," was Liz's overjoyed response.
The ring purchase
That was in August of 2012. Following the mutual declaration of our deep-seated desire to express our undying love for one another through the institution of marriage, I set about getting a ring. I got the circle part or, as those in the jewelry industry call it, the setting, from this hippie place in Seattle that makes custom-made jewelry (Liz had bookmarked the website). But the diamond was purchased from a family friend, a man I'll call "Vito the Bear" (I wouldn't do a Google Search with those terms).
Vito is this adorable little elderly Italian man. His face has the type of orang-ish hue that's only ever achieved with the help of a spray-tan bottle. It made me wonder if Vito tanned his entire body for consistency or if he simply sprayed the face to exude a healthy and youthful appearance for sales purposes.
|Vito the Bear, a couple of moms, a life-saving aunt and me.|
By the time I'd gotten the setting made, taken several trips up to New York to check out Vito the Bear's diamonds and picked out the right one, it was March. All I had left to do was get Vito to put his beautiful diamond in the hippie setting. So one Friday night I told Liz I had a show somewhere in the Poconos and I'd be staying the night at the hotel the booker had offered. Instead, I stayed at my friend Shawn's in the Bronx, shot over to Manhattan to meet Vito in the morning and was home by two in the afternoon.
The carefully orchestrated proposal
I didn't plan on proposing right away; I actually had a semi-formed plan set for later that week involving a Scott Weiland concert and fondue. But as soon as I got home, I felt like I needed to get rid of the ring. Plus, due to my carelessness, Liz had found out about Vito the Bear and knew I'd been working on getting a ring. I figured any type of scheduled plans I made would be a dead giveaway that the proposal was coming, so I scrapped the idea of the Scott Weiland concert cover-up. Instead, I opted to go with what I thought was the element of surprise.
On some random Saturday afternoon in March, I took the ring out of its fancy box and tied it around my dog Luna's collar with the chocolate ribbon that had been wrapped around everything. I remember sitting in my car, tying the ribbon and saying out loud to Luna: "I really need you to step up here. This is big ... this is really big." Luna responded by licking my nose repeatedly, which I took as her way of letting me know she understood the importance of our mission.
|She thought the mission was curling up in the bed.|
With my heart beating rapidly and Luna in my arms, I marched up the stairs and headed toward our bedroom. Liz had called me several times on my way home, and she sounded good and pissed about the fact that I wasn't home yet. She'd also worked the previous night and gotten around four hours of sleep. The best way to tame an angry, sleep-deprived girlfriend was with an engagement ring ... or so I thought.
When I walked into our room, Liz was getting ready for her cousin's surprise birthday party, a party we were both going to later that night. I handed her the dog and said something like, "Luna has something she wants to show you." Liz immediately put Luna down on the bed and went back to getting ready.
Unfazed, I picked the dog back up and handed her back to Liz, insisting, "Luna really has something she needed to show you."
"What is it Jar.." she started, but then she saw the ring. Liz's first words were: "Really? You're doing this now?"
That sounds bad, but the involuntary noise she made prior to that question was even worse.
"Ohhh" is a sound that means vastly different things depending on the pitch of the person making the noise. If the person's voice goes up when the "Ohhh" sound is emitted, it generally means that person is surprised, excited and even possibly overjoyed. But if the person's voice drops down an octave, then it's normally meant to convey annoyance or outright disappointment. Liz's voice sounded like it dropped several octaves when she made that initial "Ohhh" noise.
She did agree to marry me -- on the condition that I didn't tell anyone about the engagement during her cousin's party. To be fair, Liz knew all along that I'd been at Vito's picking up the ring. She'd checked out all of the firehouses in the area where I was supposedly performing and discovered there were no comedy shows even remotely close to that area. So she was annoyed that my lies weren't more carefully planned out and exhausted from working a 12-hour shift and dealing with needy patients. On top of all that, because of the party, she didn't have the proper amount to enjoy the moment and call up every person she's ever had contact with since she was seven, which I believe is a requirement of the engagement process.
She did love the ring, though. And because the company that made it encourages customers to share their proposal stories, I felt like I needed to contribute something. But the actual proposal story just wouldn't do.
TO BE CONTINUED ...
* I've been avoiding the word fiance at all costs for a number of reasons, many of which I discuss in detail here in this video.