Monday, April 27, 2015

Dancing on the Golden Arches: An Engagement Story

Twenty years ago today, I said “Yes” to a question of great importance.  It’s amazing how one word--one syllable--can change your life.  And, I must say this.  My Favorite Philosopher crafted a proposal plan that will long stand in the annals of “heavy sigh-twinkly eye” fandom.  And, this was before YouTube was around to capture it all.  Hard to believe, kids, I know.  It all started March 29, 1995.  Actually, “it” all started a bit before that date.

In an effort to make this part of a long story short, I will divulge a few bits of our romantic history that will shed light upon the significance of seemingly mundane details that will come up soon.

1.  Our first “un-date”, in May 1993, was a four-hour conversation under the Golden Arches on Okeechobee Boulevard.  Why, an “un-date”, you ask?  In the first, we were just getting to know each other.  Secondly, we each paid for our own fare.  Mine was likely a milkshake--still a favorite Mickey D’s indulgence.

2.  After a late summer visit by his parents and a visit to Chuck E. Cheese for his youngest sister’s birthday, I was “presented” with a plastic, topaz-ish ring that was won by my future beloved for his expertise in Skee-Ball.

3.  After a meaningful dinner at the Olive Garden, that very same summer, I was given a red carnation from the vase on our table.  The first flower he ever gave me.  And, might I purposefully note, not the last!

March 29, 1995.  My sweetheart presented me with a sentimental birthday card which included a cryptic poem about future events.  It went as follows--and is pictured below.  He did give his permission for me to share this with you.

portrait of a piece

“i am an artist, “ said
the little boy
on the Golden Arches.

“i pick pieces
to pack
into my pristine portraits.

i am painting for you
with pieces,

eight, nine,
circle, king...

red carnation
diamond, spring...”

Things that make you go hmm.  I was delightfully perplexed and could barely contain my excitement.  As you might imagine.

April 16, 1995.  Two weeks later, on Easter Sunday, he planned an Easter Egg Hunt for me--in my apartment.  Yet, another story is given to me.

It seems there was this beautiful princess (that would be me!) living in a land that was plagued by a menacing dragon.  This dragon was so horrid that he scared all the chicks and bunnies into hiding.  Thus, my quest was to find all of the hidden furries and fuzzies; hence, rescuing them from the awful beast.  So, I scurried about my apartment, looking for plastic eggs which did contain a plastic chick or bunny in each.

Having succeeded in my quest, I learned the next the part of the tale.  The princess’ rescue of the eggs seemed to further infuriate the dragon.  Indeed, he was so incensed that he cast a spell over the land that could only be broken by (insert trumpet fanfare):
The Prince with the Diamond!

But when would the Prince come, I inquired?  Good princesses know to ask such important details.  Ahh, this led to the second of the two egg hunts.  This final set of eggs each contained a slip of paper with a number written on it.  The number of days in which the prince would come with the diamond was hidden in those eggs.  Squee!

So, I scampered (way different than scurried!) about my apartment, locating the eggs in question.  As I opened each one, I noted that my brilliant Philosopher-to-be had matched those numbers up with dates of importance in our relationship and family lives.  For example, one of the potential dates was his sister’s graduation.  Another was the anniversary of the Olive Garden date.  However, I was absolutely, positively convinced that it would be May 20--the anniversary of the Golden Arches conversation.  I nearly bet the farm on it.

(It is important to note that he told me I should now wear the Chuck E. Cheese bling that he gave me, back in the day, as it might soon be replaced by a costlier band.  And, yes, of course, I STILL had it!)

April 27 began like any other day.  I set off for work that morning--as an Admissions Counselor at our Alma Mater.  It was the middle of exam week; but despite the stress of that blessed week, my Philosopher-to-be (he was just a Junior in college then--GASP!) offered to grab lunch for us.  Happy Meals from McDonald’s.  Yes, we were still in that age range where you could each such things, on occasion, and seem to get away with it.  Don’t judge.  It’s very romantical.

Anyhoo, my exam-exhausted Philosopher-t0-be arrived at my office, with the iconic bags in hand.  He was wearing a pair of cut-off jean shorts, a Chicago t-shirt (the city, not the band), and navy-blue and yellow striped flip-flops.  Study garb.  Classic.

We exited my office, walked through the palm-tree laden archway of the campus (please see “Of Sailfish and Bulldogs” for a visual image of my alma mater/employer), and crossed Flagler Drive to lunch on the seawall of the Intracoastal Waterway.  We gave thanks for our meal and I opened up my box.

Inside was a velvet-covered ring box.  Thinking it was just another piece of this intricate puzzle, I said, “Aww, what’s this?  Another clue?”.  I opened the box to find the answer to the puzzle--a gorgeous, sparkling diamond engagement ring!  I was speechless. Yes. Me. Really.  And, my Philosopher-to-be smiled, slid the ring out of the box, and asked me to make him “the happiest boy in the world.  Will you marry me?”.   I do believe I said “Yes” at some point during those moments.  I was absolutely stunned.

You see, just the night before, he asked me again, when I thought he was going to propose.  I replied, without hesitation.  May 20.  I later learned that he was holding the ring box in his hand when that question was asked.  I suspect there was a rather satisfied chuckle that occurred as he told his roommates of the success of his subterfuge.

For those of you truly paying attention to this story, you are asking yourself, “But the number of days in which the Prince would come was hidden in the eggs, right?”

Here’s the deal:  There were 6 eggs in the first hunt.  There were 5 eggs in the second hunt. A total of 11 eggs.  The number of days in which the Prince with the diamond would come was...11 days.  The hunt was staged on April 16.  He popped the question on April 27.  Clever, eh?  I told you he was good.

So, here I sit, two decades later, smiling down at my Happy Meal prize.  The camel in the picture is the toy that was later discovered in the box.  And, several hours later, as a dear friend expressed her loving congratulations to me, she said, “Honey, that wasn’t a happy meal--that was an ECSTATIC meal!”.

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

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