In recognition of our 11th wedding anniversary this Saturday I thought it fitting to share the story of my marriage proposal to the woman who’s remained with me all these years despite being of sound mind and body and intelligence and self-confidence and multitudes of friends and loved ones who surely must be wondering what unholy sorcery I’ve used to capture her heart. What can I say, my charms are mysterious. What follows is edited from a letter I wrote in January of 2003.
Well it seems only fitting that I begin my first letter of the year two thousand and three with the biggest news item of the past month. We won a free 2L bottle of pop from Safeway Grocery! Not only did we win but we even got to choose which flavour we wanted. We were both so surprised by this we almost chose cola by default but eventually regained our composure and decided to make the most of our good fortune and left the store with a beautiful bottle of the ruby, red libation of the gods – cream soda. It truly was a moment we will both remember and cherish forever.
I’m sure that most, if not all of you, were expecting me to immediately talk about our engagement. Surely you expected that to be the biggest event of the past month. However, there is one significant difference between the free pop and the engagement that pushes the free pop to the top. The pop was FREE! The engagement cost me a bundle. It is costing me more and more bundles each day. And if the married guys I’ve spoken to since the engagement are telling the truth then it’ll be costing me for the rest of my natural life.
[Editor’s note: That previous paragraph is rather ironic considering for the past six and a half years I’ve been an unemployed stay-at-home dad living off my wife’s hard earned income]
All kidding aside, I did willfully ask her to be my bride. And to my absolute delight, after a few moments of skepticism, she willfully agreed. And now I will share with you how the big moment transpired.
For quite some time now I’d been debating whether it was time to ask my girlfriend to marry me. For those of you that know me too well, I think about things like this far too much; often to the point of giving my ulcers ulcers. At first I wanted to make sure we would be getting married in a year when no one else was getting married. My theory being that if we were the only marriage in a particular year we would get exceptional gifts since there would be no other weddings to dilute your excess money supply. It has become quite clear that this will not be happening. EVER! I wouldn’t be surprised if people start marrying their pets just so that there are at least two weddings in every year. And if that didn’t pan out you’d all become Mormon and start marrying groups of each other.
My other terribly naïve goal was to have my place of work stabilized before I took the plunge. Again, it has become quite clear that this will not be happening. EVER! Warrior very much resembles one of those inflatable toy punching clowns. You punch it and it falls over but then it pops right back up but not straight back up. It may wobble to one side, seem like it is falling down again, but then right itself. Even the slightest breeze causes it waver to one side or the other. It brings hours of fun and frustration and on the whole is a wonderful toy, but it will never be stable. Stability is for Lego.
So having come to the above conclusions, I decided that now was as good a time as any for a wedding. We had always discussed that a fall wedding back in Ontario would be nice. We really miss the beauty of the majestic maple trees turning red, orange, and yellow. This is a natural beauty that to me surpasses even the mountains. With my mind and heart both in sync, I began the search for a ring. Luckily, I know a guy who knows a guy who sells gemstones. His name is Vinny and for a couple cartons of regular Export A’s, a chub of summer sausage, and a forty of Five Star he’ll get you any stone you want, at cost.
Engagement Rings Should Not Be Bought By Couples
I have always felt that the purchase of the engagement ring was the one thing that the guy has got to do on his own. I always found it strange when couples would go out together to buy an engagement ring. It’s as if she doesn’t trust you to even do that right. As if the ring is the important part of the event! Perhaps I’m a little old fashioned in this respect, but I stand by my convictions on this one and did the ring shopping in secret. This also has the advantage of the proposal being a total surprise. That said, what I envisioned for an engagement ring required a little reassurance from my future bride.
I always thought it would be cool to include an orange gemstone along with the diamond. Such a ring would be truly unique and most definitely remind her of me. And I’m talking a tasteful orange stone as an accent to the diamond, not some giant bright orange rock with a black ‘01’ etched in its surface no matter how awesome that would be. I just needed a little assurance that I wasn’t going completely off the deep end. Without ruining the surprise I tried to get gal to tell me her honest opinion of orange gems. I used the excuse of buying her earrings for Christmas to find out. Eventually, and I think honestly, she admitted that if tastefully done she would wear said orange gems. Jackpot!
Uncertainty alleviated, I then went about working with Vinny on finding both a diamond, accompanying orange gems (which eventually became Spessartine Garnets) and setting suitable for my fiancée-to-be. Finally, with finished product now in my hand and initial panic attack dissipating, I went about planning how I would propose.
Guys, you will most likely want to go get a beer or do something in the garage for a paragraph or two. Hey, I understand, but the women love these details and thus I’m obliged appease them. Just prepare yourself for the aftermath of what I’m about to write. Once they hear of the unbelievably romantic fashion in which I proposed you all will undoubtedly be getting one of the following:
- A cuff to the side of the head followed by a snarky statement such as “Would that have been too much for you to do?”
- A chilling glare followed by days of being ignored and boiled wieners and buttered noodles for meals
- No sex for months perhaps the entire year, not even on valentines, birthdays, and especially not on your anniversary
- All of the above
First I bought one hundred long stem red roses and placed them in ten vases I had handcrafted from stained glass recovered from a cathedral in Rome. Around the vases I placed one hundred small candles which I had made from the wax of one hundred European honey bees I imported from one hundred individual Swiss honey farmers residing in villages of the Alps. I bought an additional one hundred roses, orange this time, and single-handedly plucked each and every petal with great care so as not to ruin any of them. I placed these petals on the black silk sheets I had purchased for our bed.
I then took our cat Bandit to the pet groomers and had him thoroughly washed and combed until his fur just glistened. I then hand-sewed a small ring cushion out of very rare cashmere made by a reclusive order of Nepalese monks. I attached the ring to the cushion and then the cushion to Bandit’s collar. I turned off all the lights in the house and lit the candles and I lay on the bed of rose petals wearing nothing but an orange, polka dot black silk bow tie and bikini-cut undergarments. When I heard Steph open the front door and with Bandit sitting proudly at my side I gently began strumming “Stairway to Heaven” on a small harp.
At that exact moment a loud bang on my office door jolted me from my daydream. Let’s be honest, I didn’t really have the time to implement the above plan, spectacular as it would have been, so here is what I actually did. And true to form, things didn’t go as smoothly as I had hoped.
I decided that Christmas Eve would be the perfect night despite being a tad cliché. I would take the afternoon off work and cook a nice romantic dinner, buy flowers, and all that jazz. I would tell her this was my way of making her first Christmas away from home a special one. After dinner I would bring out dessert and ask her then. If all went according to Hoyle, we could then call home to our families and share the good news and get Christmas off to a wonderful start. Great plan but great plans and Schmidts are like woolly mammoths and tar pits!
Early preparations started off well but then I was informed by my aunt that she would not be making turkey for Christmas dinner. After my initial shock and dismay at such sacrilege, I quickly realized that I could use this to my advantage. I now had the perfect special meal to cook for proposal night. Cooking always impresses the ladies; cooking something big impresses them exponentially more.
In the days leading up to Christmas Eve I purchased a turkey and all the fixings and stored them at Warrior Headquarters. In order to convincingly go to the office during the weekend to defrost the turkey, I fabricated an office computer malfunction story which worked masterfully. When the big day finally came, I again went into work under the guise of computer glitches in order to retrieve the turkey and get flowers and wine.
As luck would have it, while I’m at the office an honest computer catastrophe began to unfold. What was supposed to be a quick stop to pick up supplies turned into a full morning of panic as I attempted to get the computers working for the boss. Making sure computers are working for my boss is much like making sure a lion is fed well enough that he sees no need to devour the zoo guests.
Whilst I’m troubleshooting computers I get a call from my girlfriend who proceeds to inform me that her boss has told them all to go home early. I had expected such a move and figured that if she got off an hour or two early I’d at least have the meal cooking and the surprise would still be a surprise. However, I soon find out that her boss has been given them the entire afternoon off! If she leaves at lunch, before I’ve even begun cooking, the surprise is ruined. And I’m still trying to fix the blessed computers!
I eventually get everything functioning at work at dart out the door at 11:30 am. I have time for one quick stop before picking her up at the C-train station. I decide that flowers are my best bet. A dozen roses and a variety bouquet later followed by a quick stop at the house to put them in position and I’m off to the train station.
Accepting that my dinner surprise is now impossible, I decide to share my plans for our meal. By this time I’m also running late so I also decide I need her help. Instead of a surprise romantic dinner I’m now making her cook! How fitting for a marriage proposal.
Now would be a good time to mention that cooking a turkey is something I’ve never done. Despite the dreary prep work, it didn’t exactly appear to be rocket science. Besides, the turkey I purchased had all the instructions marked on the bag. A quick calculation using the cooking guidelines on the bag suggested we had plenty of time to cook the bird for a 7:00 dinner. I call home to Mom to get some pointers on stuffing to which Mom carefully inquires, “You haven’t started it yet?” I tell her that the turkey bag says this much time is all that’s needed. In mild disbelief Mom lets me go about my business.
Very important lesson learned, always listen to your mother especially if her voice sounds skeptical. At approximately 7:00, with all the fixings ready to go we have a turkey still spewing pinkish water and nowhere near finished. It is now quite clear that the whole proposal timing is in significant jeopardy and my mental state is now deteriorating rapidly.
We finally eat at 9:30! It was incredibly tasty and enjoyable but my plans are thoroughly in shambles thanks to time zones and other inconveniences of science. The family back home will soon be parting ways from their traditional Christmas Eve gathering and heading home to bed. Furthermore, the karmic momentum of a surprise, romantic dinner never had chance to launch and I’m at a loss as to how I’m actually going to pop the question. I’m now ready to forgo the proposal entirely.
Will You Marry Me?
But just when I think all is lost, a small ray of hope shines through the darkness. My love suggests that we go for a walk and look for Santa and his reindeer. This is a tradition of her family and I immediately see it as an opportunity to propose! I grab the ring, and we start walking around the block. In a stroke of genius I suggest we walk over to the small park nearby and see if the outdoor rink is up yet. At least here we would be away from the claustrophobic realities of suburban life. The moon is full but partially hidden by wispy clouds. I take a knee and after the day we’ve had I’m in no mood for grandiose speeches. I simply ask the question.
Another lesson learned and equally important, never propose in the dark. For one thing, she won’t be able to see the ring and will immediately conclude that you are drunk, a tasteless prankster, or both. Fittingly, her initial response was “are you serious?” The accompanying visage of disbelief and irritation on her face was one for the ages.
Without a solid answer I stand up and we begin to make our way to some street lights so I can indeed prove that there is a ring in the box. Once the dull, yellow glow of streetlights highlight the treasure in my hand, she confirmed her ‘yes’. And with that young women the world over lowered their heads in sorrow; The Legend was off the market.
So in spite of a few bumps along the way, Christmas got off to a wonderful start for us. On the downside, I didn’t get a Christmas present from my fiancée. Part of my ruse was my convincing her that we’d buy ourselves a big, new TV for Christmas but that we’d wait until Boxing Week sales to buy it. Hopefully she’s not too disappointed with my decision to forego the TV.