That's right, the night I'm supposed to propose, Monique will be a half world away.
I must admit, this put me into a bit of a panic for a day or two. When I calmed down, I looked at the calendar and realized I could still make this happen if I moved everything up a week. I notify everyone about the change and kick my preparations into high gear.
Only Monique isn't exactly cooperating. She SAID she wanted to be surprised but she was becoming . . . curious. To put it mildly. She started asking questions, watching me like a hawk to see what I was doing. She really wanted to find out what I was planning. She was getting impatient . . . my excuses about the cost of the ring were wearing thin. Her trip to Poland was coming up and she hoped that we would be engaged before she left.
My only option was to give Monique something to find. I looked online and found a charter boat company on Grapevine Lake, then created a fictional reservation for an evening cruise on the lake with that company, to take place two nights AFTER my intended proposal night. I set up a false email address and carried on an email conversation with myself to ask questions about this romantic cruise, then printed off the whole thing and left it where she might stumble across it. Don't believe me? Click here for a PDF copy of that email.
The day is approaching and I'm getting nervous. Does Monique suspect what I'm doing? How can I make SURE she won't work late and skip that lesson? Well, about this time I get in touch with Monique's friend Teri. Teri had already told Monique she wanted to go to the dance class with us some time, and now she's happy to help me pull this off. Teri becomes my spy, finding out what Monique knows - which fortunately is nothing. Monique suspects that I will propose two days later than my target date . . . I dropped a couple hints along those lines. Teri tells Monique she will come to the dance class on my target date and really wants to make sure Monique will be there - first time at the dance lesson, all alone, etc. This effectively locks Monique into being at the club rather than at work.
Time to nail down last-minute details. I order the cake and flowers, receive the teddy bears. The ring is purchased and resized. Providence now smiles on me; the night of the proposal, they will be teaching the waltz - perfect for Anne Murray's song.
But hey - no word from Anne Murray on the photo . . . I send a note to her assistant and I get a reply from Anne herself. The picture had been mailed, but coming from Canada we didn't know if it would arrive in time.
For everything to work Monique must be in the dance floor area before everyone else shows up . . . I talk with the bar manager and get him to open the doors a few minutes early. I slip a note to the dance instructors with a reminder on when to give me the signal so I can propose.
Oh crap! I need a videographer, I realized one day. Poor Mellissa had the misfortune to stop by my office that afternoon . . . 10 minutes later she's walking back to her desk, wondering how in the hell she got roped into running a video camera at a country bar. Fortunately Mellissa is a sweetheart and she agrees to help. I bring in my video camera so she can take it home and learn how to use it. I even develop a cover story for her to use in case anyone asks her why she's taping the dance class.
By this time duties have been assigned: Leah is taking photographs. Cheryl is bringing the cake, flowers, plates and napkins, plastic ware, etc. and she will be the focal point for all attendees outside the bar. Debbie will bring Joyce. Teri will be at the dance club to make sure Monique shows up, and to help keep her distracted. Our friend Cassie will also be there to keep Monique's attention focused away from the front door of the bar and to give me an excuse for Monique and I to arrive early.
Bill has come back to Texas and he and El will be there - El is bringing the cake knife too. Monique's friend Sue will be there, bringing her Carl along. Mellissa is ready with the video camera.
Great news - Anne Murray shows up in the mail . . . well, not her, but her photo. She signed it "Monique - please say "yes"!" I'm thinking, "Cool . . . my first celebrity endorsement!" I take the picture to Hobby Lobby for a frame - you can see it to the right.
My little surprise marriage proposal has taken on all the operational complexity of the Normandy invasion. I have people going every which way, cakes and flowers in the works, teddy bears in my trunk, an international letter en route . . . and relaxing calmly in the eye of this maelstrom is Monique, who doesn't have any idea what is taking place.
I write up instructions and send them out to all the participants. I literally draw a map of the bar so everyone knows where to be. Cheryl, Leah and I review the map and they declare that I've lost my friggin' mind, making up a map like that.
The day of the proposal arrives and Leah and I pick up the flowers. Cheryl and Leah grab the cake after work. A flurry of emails and calls confirm that everyone is ready.
It is time.
Copyright 2013 Jeff and Monique