Saturday, June 9, 2012

Lies, Deception, and the Three-State Adventure That Ended with My Marriage Proposal

I needed to do something. I knew it. And I knew it had to be big. And memorable. Something different. Something amazing. Something no one had ever done before. (No one we knew of, anyway.) Time was running out.

It was the first week of June. The ring was ready but I wasn't. I had no plan. All I had was the fact that I had to come up with a plan. How would I propose to the woman I want to spend the rest of my life with? This is the story she'll be telling everyone between now and the wedding. (And beyond.) It's got to be good.

A fancy dinner? Sorry, boys. It's been done a million times. Skywriting? Too much. A scoreboard proposal? Lame. Fly her to an exotic location and pop the question there? Now there's an idea...

I had already booked a trip to Barbados. It was my Christmas present to her. (Aren't credit cards a glorious thing when you're young, unmarried, childless, and in love?) I had even hyped that up too. On the car ride to my parents' house for Christmas Eve, I told her my gift was expensive. A lot more expensive than anything she got me. The most expensive gift I had ever purchased. She was not amused.

"You better not be proposing to me in front of your family on Christmas Eve. That's definitely NOT what I'm envisioning." (If that wasn't a precursor for the "My Director" nickname, I don't know what was.) I didn't back down. "You're just going to have to wait and see. And act surprised." (Hehehe.) Eventually, she got herself so worked up I had to tell her, "Give me some credit. Do you think THAT's how I'd propose?"

She was shocked, relieved, and excited when she opened up the Barbados trip.

In the weeks leading up to it, her friends had convinced her that I was going to propose there. How romantic, right? It appeared to be my only option. There's only one problem: I was terrified of either carrying the ring on the plane or checking it in my bag. What if security pulls it out of my carry-on? What if the airline loses my checked luggage? What if I lose it somehow? I couldn't allow that possibility. Besides, I would have been too freaked out on the plane and on the island and every moment leading up to the time I finally popped the question. And that would have been a dead giveaway.

No... I'd have to do it before the trip and make Barbados our engagement celebration. But how?

Then it just dawned on me. I'll make it clever. I'll make it fun. I'll make it memorable and sentimental. And just for good measure, I'll make her work for it. I'll send her on a scavenger hunt to find me. I'll hide clues all around our town, at the places that are special to us. At the end will be me, holding the ring.

So that's what I did. I wrote a poem. I scouted out the places where I'd hide the clues: our first apartment, our favorite restaurant, our go-to ice cream place. (I originally had a lot more places chosen. Good call cutting it down.) When she gets to the ice cream place, I'll be there holding a cone with the ring on top in place of a cherry. I'll drop to one knee right there on Washington Street in Hoboken, the rest of the world be damned, and I will ask her to marry me.

But first, I'd have to do one thing. I'd have to do it a lot. And I'd have to do it well: lie. Lie my face off. Lie like my life depended on it. It's ironic, really, when you consider how much lying I did to her in the 24 hours before I asked her to marry me. I pretty much lived a lie. Everything that came out of my mouth.

First, I had to get her dad's permission. I had to drive to Pennsylvania and meet him after he got off of work. Problem is, I had a job of my own. So I called out sick, but didn't tell her. When my cell phone rang on my way to Pennsylvania, it was her.

"I just tried your extension at work and some girl picked up." (The girl filling in for me.)

"Yeah. The phones are all messed up here for some reason."

"How did that happen?"

"Who knows? It's a real pain in the a$$ here today. Just call me on my cell if you want to reach me."

Boom. Lie.

On my way home from asking for her hand in marriage, my cell rings again. It's her, again. At the time, I was working a late shift, 3pm-11pm. She was just getting off of work. I was sitting in traffic on the New Jersey Turnpike. "I'm going to so-and-so's apartment on the Upper East Side for dinner. I'll hang out and then come meet you at your office after your show and we can take the bus home together."

Without even blinking, here comes another lie...

"But I drove in today." (What?! It's like I'm on stage at the Improv. Let's see where this goes now...)

"Really? Why?"

"Because I was running late and it was hot. So instead of getting all sweaty I decided to drive in since it's quicker."

Lies. Lies. Lies. Lies.

"Great. Then I can drive home with you. I'll come meet you at your office at 11."

(But I'm not at work. Damn. Sh!t. F*ck. )

"Why don't I drive up and come get you? Gives you more time to spend with so-and-so." (If I'm gonna lie, I might as well be a nice guy about it.)


I had until 11 to figure out what the hell I was going to do. That's what time my show - the 10 o'clock news - ends. I went back to our apartment and hung out. I ate. I changed into work clothes. (Lie.) I kept the ring in my presence at all times. I got back in the car, headed through the Lincoln Tunnel, drove up and across town, and camped outside our friends' apartment for a good 15 minutes.

The ring hadn't left my presence all day, since I picked it up in the morning. I chauffered it around, showed it to her parents, and now it sat quietly in a bag in the backseat. My palms were sweating. My pulse was racing. I would have to leave it here while I went up to the apartment. Hell no. I took the box out of the bag, shoved it in my pocket, untucked my shirt and went upstairs.

A half hour later, we were driving home. I was quiet, distant. Nervous as all hell. The next day was Saturday and I was supposedly leaving for my friend's bachelor party at noon. (More lies. The bachelor party was real. But I obviously wasn't going.)

I was nauseous. We went out for brunch, but I barely ate.

"Are you feeling ok?"

"My stomach is iffy." (True)

"How come?"

"I just don't like bachelor parties." (Also true.)

"So you're nervous?"

"Sometimes my friends get stupid and sometimes I join them." (True again, but this whole conversation was fiction. It was made up. Lies I tell you. Lies on top of lies, within lies.)

Finally, it was time for me to get ready for my "trip to Atlantic City for the bachelor party." I packed my bag, kissed her goodbye, and drove to our bank to get money out for the weekend. (Another lie. But she knows I never use an ATM that isn't our bank's because I don't want to pay the stupid fee.)

That's when I had to fire off the lies that really meant it. The ones that set the actual proposal in motion.

I picked up my cell phone and called her.

"You're not going to believe this. I'm at the Wachovia and I locked my keys in the car."

"How did you do that?" (It was almost impossible to do this with those fancy new remote keychains that everyone has now.)

"I don't know. I was sitting there with the door open, and in one motion I locked it, dropped the keys on the front seat, and shut the door. It happened so fast. I'm an idiot." Lie. Lie. Lie. Lie. And true.

"What are you gonna do?"

"I have to stay here with the car. The keys are in it and I'm parked illegally." (Lie. Lie. Lie) "Can you walk the spare set down to me?"

It would take her ten to fifteen minutes to walk to the car. When she'd get there, she'd see an envelope under one of the windshield wipers. It was the beginning of the poem I wrote explaining that this was my proposal. It also contained the clue to the first stop on the scavenger hunt to find me. I laid it all out in there. No more pretending, no more lying. Here's a snippet:

I hope you like the method I chose
To say I want you for my wife
I love you from your head to toes
And will for the rest of your life

But before we are officially engaged
You must play my little game
I hope you are not at all enraged
If you are, I'll love you just the same

She had the keys, she had the car, she had the clues. Come and get me. When she got in, she'd see my bag sitting on the passenger seat with this note on it:

I had to dig this relic out of the archives in the attic
I made my way to the ice cream shop, figuring I had about 20-25 minutes to get there, buy the cone, and wait. She was there in fifteen minutes flat. She must have flown around town like a woman possessed. Later, she would tell me that she basically had to dumpster dive to retrieve one of the clues - the one at our first apartment. Still, she made good time. I didn't even have a chance to buy the cone. I guess that's not what she was really looking for. I was so nervous, so surprised that she was so quick, I forgot to drop to one knee. I showed her the ring, asked her to marry me. She said, "yes" and we kissed. That proposal was 11 years ago today: June 9, 2001.

I had a very good reason to do all that lying. I haven't made a habit of it since. And we continue to live happily - and memorably - ever after.
From Barbados, June 2001. (A lot of hair ago.)


  1. Congratulations. We also got married in 2001, but my proposal was a little less dramatic: "I think we should probably get married."

    1. What can I say? I have a flair for the dramatic. We were actually married in December 2002. This is our "engaeaversary."

  2. Happy Anniversary! Congrats on 11 under your belt and cheers to many more to come!

  3. GREAT post. Congratulations on 11 imaginative and happy years.

    1. Thank you. We've been together FIFTEEN years in August. Where did that tome go?

  4. happy anniversary! you guys have to come see my new place!

    1. Thanks, love. Pics of the house look great!

  5. Awww...such a fun way to propose! Now I have to add "creative" to the list of things I'm looking for in a husband. Thanks for raising the bar ;)

    1. Hey...some guys can fix things or finish your basement. I can write a poem and organize a scavenger hunt. To each their own. ;-)

  6. We were on a boat in the middle of the Carribean... sometime after 1:00. It's all a blur and its been a blur ever since. Congrats! I was wondering why you weren't at work that day. LOL

    1. Sounds romantic. You're brave for doing what I couldn't do... haul the ring on a plane, to an island, and set something up on vacation. Ya like my "the phones are all messed up" excuse? Hahahaha.

  7. My husband spelled out his prposal with iron-on letters on our daughter's onesie and handed her to me at Christmas. His cousin did a great job of videotaping the whole thing--minus our heads. She was working so hard to get the baby's onesie on tape, she never got our faces.

    1. That's pretty finny all around. Very clever idea!

  8. I still remember asking my father-in-law for his blessing.

    Me: So I guess I need to take you out to dinner sometime.

    Him: You want her? You can have her.

    (Yeah, he regrets that line a little)

    1. And I bet you were worried about him giving YOU a hard time. hahahaha.


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