Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Hey! What's the big idea?

One of the personality traits Melissa and I share is a distaste for doing things with only marginal success. If I cannot be the best at something after just a short while then I quickly lose interest. Now, I admit this is not the most positive of traits as it can cause me to avoid doing a great many things. Knowing full well I only had one shot to propose (apart from mumbling the first go 'round) I was committed to making it count.

Before I continue I must relate just how stressful this whole scenario is for the guy. There is a tremendous amount of pressure to be as spectacular and memorable and better than "that other guy's proposal". This isn't just a question you're asking it is a part of history. The big bang, the discovery of America, the Great War, WWII, the civil rights movement - all meaningless in comparison. My shoulders are strained just thinking about it.

First thing first, I needed a ring. Ages ago I asked Melissa to send me some examples of rings she liked so when the time was here I could have something to go off of. Melissa being Melissa, decided to eschew any rings that could be obtained easily or locally. No, she wanted a ring from a guy who only makes rings when someone custom orders them. He lives in England, but thankfully, with the advent of the internet, he gladly takes orders from 'round the globe. After choosing the biggest diamond and shiniest silvery metal I could afford I sent my payment and was told not to worry that he would get right on it and it would be ready to go in just 4 weeks.

Having never purchased jewelry of any kind from anywhere, let alone a diamond engagement ring from a guy in a garage 4,000 miles away I was immediately worried. I kept reassuring myself that this man makes his living selling custom made rings and that creating an entire website complete with shoddy photographs and late 90's design just to take my money and run would be ludicrous. The fact he didn't respond to my emails simply meant he was busy in his basement stoking fires and cleaning his instruments. Surely, he wasn't ignoring my emails because he was in Monte Carlo spending several months of my savings on Blackjack and martinis.

At the end of week 5, when I could barely sleep and seeing anything shiny, round or glimmering made me start to sob a little, I sent a final email asking if he could just please let me know what is going on and I didn't mean to bother, but could he at least let me know if he had any success at the blackjack table since I never seem to when I'm spending my money gambling. Again, there was radio silence. After various fantasies of me flying to Monte Carlo to hunt this guy down and take back what's mine, and figuring out just how I am going to scrape together the money for another ring (which she would most likely hate) I received a slip of paper in the post box indicating I had a package from England I must sign for waiting for me at the post office. Naturally, I assumed this was a photo of the jeweler with a couple cheap European floozies and a fan made of $100 dollar bills with a big "wish you were here" sign written on the bottom.

Having convinced myself I should at least see what the guy looks like I head to the post office and pick up my package. After wrestling with a Russian nesting doll style packaging job I pulled out a little brown box with an amazing custom made ring inside. This was it! I did it! I can relax! But wait...how am I going to do this? I don't know how to make a great proposal! Why couldn't that guy have stolen my money? He must be some jerk..I made it easy for him! All he had to do was avoid meeting the terms of our agreement and I could avoid all this proposal stress!

After I woke up from having passed out in the post office parking lot I somehow got the courage to see this through. Not only was I going to do this, I was going to do this better than anyone else ever has! I had a whole host of ideas some which would have cost more than the ring, some which may be illegal. I thought hard about what makes Melissa smile the most and one recurring theme was the band Mates of State. She doesn't just talk about them she gushes about them. If you didn't know Melissa you'd think they were her children. I knew they weren't quite popular enough to be stuck up so I went to their website and found their email address. I sent them an email with two sections (to make it easy to dismiss quickly if need be). I had a short section: "Will you help me propose to my girlfriend?" and a long section which went into much more detail of what I had in mind. I stressed that I completely understood they weren't sitting around just waiting for an email to come in asking them to work for free so if they couldn't do it, just please let me know. I didn't want to hang onto that idea for any longer than necessary.

Well, they probably saw that I asked them to let me know if they couldn't do it and decided it would be best if they let me sweat over it and never write back at all. This is the best route for becoming a sell-out jerk of a pop star and they are well on their way...

Coming up soon was Memorial day weekend and we talked about going to New York City. Melissa had a couple of art shows she wanted to see and I love going to NYC even if it's only to stand around like an idiot and eat hot dogs. We booked a hotel and I decided, if nothing else, that at least I could propose in New York and we could then visit it on our anniversary. She would see her art shows that would make her happy and then I could propose and just put her over the top. It'll be brilliant! The national news will pick it up! We'll be on the front page! Twitterers will tweet!

We get up early on Saturday morning and begin the 4 hour drive up. After having just driven out of Baltimore when the traffic started to thin out a little my fortitude did as well. I immediately remember what I only should have remembered a couple hours ago. I didn't move the ring from my sock drawer to my overnight bag. Melissa was in the room while I was packing and I had to make a mental note to go back and grab it before we left. Apparently my mental notes are much like my desk notes, which is to say scattered, illegible, and useful only for disposing of gum. What was I going to do now? I was not ready to give in so I decided I would find a stand-in ring. A temporary substitute that after a short explanation we can laugh about. This would only add to her excitement since she wouldn't know what the real ring would look like, right? Right..?

After checking into the hotel we clean up, have some lunch, and head over to the first gallery. It's clear across town and Google maps tells us it takes about 30 minutes to get to by subway. What they don't tell you is it takes even longer when you can't find the place and have to walk around with your head facing the sky like like you're in traction. This process takes an additional 30 minutes or so. Once we get to the correct address we notice it has bars on the windows and one of those roll-down gates tightly secured. What a funny way to run a gallery. I mean most people would simply think it was closed. Well, it was closed. There was no sign or any indication on the gallery's website. They just decided to close up shop. It was disappointing to be sure, but we still have the second exhibit to visit and plenty of time to spend in NYC.

We find our way back to the subway with ease and head downtown to the other gallery. Again, this gallery wasn't the easiest place to find, but we eventually do and walk on in the building. We ask the security guard where the suite is and he tells us up on the 6th floor, but he's pretty sure no one's up there. Well of course there won't be a lot of people there. It's an art gallery. What do they get maybe 3 or 4 people at a time? On this particular day they got zero people because they were closed. Running through my mind were visions of the jeweler, Mates of State, the first gallery owner and now the second gallery owner all crowding around a TV (in Monte Carlo) watching us through a closed circuit camera system, laughing hysterically at everything they've put me through.

Despite these setbacks neither of us were particularly salty. We were a little bummed, but decided it wasn't gonna get us down and we walked over to NoLita/SoHo to do some shopping at all the little boutiques. We passed by a jewelry shop when I suggested we go inside (thinking I could find a surrogate ring). Melissa only stood bewildered for a few minutes before agreeing and after spending 30 seconds inside we decided not only was everything in there completely hideous, they were also overpriced (and ugly too). We finished out the trip by eating some pizza and watching a french movie. I never found the right moment, and without a ring of any kind I decided the whole proposal will have to wait. Getting engaged in NYC just wasn't meant to be.

On the way home I suggested a stop for lunch in Philadelphia. I was still holding out hope that even without a ring I could find that perfect moment when everything seemed just right and I could pop the question. We had lunch and left within a couple hours because we had no more quarters left for the meter. Welp, there goes that idea.

It was a long exhausting drive home and the both of us just wanted to sit down, veg out and do absolutely nothing. Sitting there next to Melissa I thought to myself there is no such thing as the perfect time. I could wait for years until the stars aligned and the weather was right I hired just the right clown to make the perfect proposal. I didn't want to wait any longer. I went to my sock drawer, grabbed the ring and sat down. Melissa was on her laptop (but you probably already knew this) so I had to grab her hand to get her attention. I simply let her know what had happened and that I came to the conclusion that waiting for the perfect moment is less important to me than starting our journey together as soon as we can. And that's that. That's how I proposed to my future wife.

In case you were wondering, she said "Yes".


  1. haha!! LOVE the story! :) Sounds perfect to me.

  2. Well, how entertaining! I loved reading this, you two quirky kids you!

  3. Okay, well, I've been waiting for this....That is a long story, and it is sad that things didn't work out as planned...but oh well, because that story could be a movie! :)

  4. I must say that story is your unique and amazing experience for the proposal. PS, great writer!!!

  5. Thanks for the great story. In the end it couldn't have turned out better!

  6. PS. After all that it's a darn good thing she said yes!!

  7. =)

    okay, so i'm a little late in reading through this blog.. but that story is just wonderful! i'm sure it didn't feel wonderful at the time, but you're right.. you could waste your life away waiting for the perfect moment. making THIS moment the perfect one is by far the better option. kudos to you..

    your future oldest sister-in-law,