First, you find the girl. Check. Then you fall in love. Check again. Then you pick a ring…easy…another check. Then you ask the most important question you will ever ask in your life…
When trying to figure out how to pop the big Q I knew I needed to do two things – figure out a creative way of doing it as I was instructed “it better be good” – and the even harder part with my soon to be better half – making it a surprise.
The one thing that I knew for sure was that I wanted Melanie to be able to tell her friends the story of how I asked her to marry me, the appropriate “ooooos” and “awwws” would always follow. It was also important to me that the locations and such were all significant to us. After toying between the promenade in Edgewater and Fort Tryon I settled on the latter.
The next big question was when. Melanie’s sister, Heather, was pregnant and I wanted to ensure that they each had their time in the spotlight. Heather having her first child and Melanie getting engaged – so when CJ was supposed to be out by the end of the first weekend in March I narrowed it down to two days – March 27th with a rain date of April 3rd.
It was about two weeks before hand and I was still trying to figure out the perfect way to ask when Melanie informed me she was going to have a “girls night” on March 24th – the same day Harlan Coben was doing a book signing in Ridgewood. I look back on this idea hitting me like a cartoon where a light bulb goes on above the character’s head. A few months before while lying in bed Melanie had been joking around about how it would be nice if Harlan Coben had a good love story as he was the reason we had met. Two years before even meeting, while reading the book “The Final Detail” there was a section where the main character was talking with his dad about relationships and how choosing the woman you are going to marry is the most important decision of your life. It goes on for about two pages, and being the hopeless romantic I am, I dog-eared the page. So it hit me…why not see if I could somehow incorporate this book and our favorite author into the proposal. So Mel went out for girls night and I “went to Rotary” and secretly got the book signed.
I am fortunate enough to have most Fridays off from work and spent the day before the big one running around and getting things set. I bought six dozen roses and painstakingly pulled the petals off of each one. I premade our lunch and hid it in the vegetable drawer of the fridge and got Ralph to be my partner in crime.
The day had finally arrived, and though a bit chillier than I would have liked, the wheels were in motion. If I waited until the following week and it wound up raining, the proposal would have been pushed off until mid-May as the weekends get crazy from here on out. While Melanie got dressed I snuck the picnic blanket downstairs, packed the lunch and put everything in the back of the Jeep. We hit the road. My palms were sweaty but I managed to play it off. Melanie quickly figured out where we were heading and there was an unspoken sense of excitement in the air.
Sometimes Melanie is too smart for her own good so I had planned on making the day seem as much of a fake out as possible. We pulled into Fort Tryon and I grabbed the backpack…she knew I was up to something so as we strolled around the park I kept mentioning how we would probably be back a few times in the coming weeks and she should get use to it. We eventually settled under our tree and enjoyed our wraps and chocolate covered strawberries. After what seemed like an eternity to me, Melanie tired of waiting for me to just up and pull out the ring…or did she say it was too cold…we headed back to the car. Halfway back I realized I had “lost” my cell phone (which I had cleverly turned off right before we packed up). She immediately said lets call it – she was making this harder than it needed to be – but I convinced her we should retrace our steps. When we got back to our tree I got down on my knee and rummaged through the bag.
“I can’t find my phone but I found this book in here”…she opened it up…read the inscription and looked up in disbelief as I pulled out the ring. It took a few minutes of hugging and crying before I got enough of a head nod to know she was mine for life but it all went just as planned.
We drove home and while she went and got a spa manicure I had set up, I staged the champagne, candles and rose petals in the linen closet and went over the details one last time with Ralph. We had a great dinner at the Melting Pot in Westwood – our first date spot – and between dinner and desert I “went to the bathroom” to give Ralph the go ahead to set everything up. We arrived home to rose petals from the door to the bedroom and candles lighting the whole room.
I think its safe to say that it was better than good…it was perfect.
..and since all about the Final Detail…tonight we will be heading into dinner at rebar with both sets of parents and siblings to “officially” announce our engagement!