Having now also struck out in person, I went back to where I could at least be safe from badgery salesmen: my beloved internet. Since my encounter at the mall, my opinion on the major jewelry stores had soured. I headed off onto the slightly less beaten path of craft jewelry sites and eventually found a ring inspired by Harry Potter which featured no diamond. It was perfect. I guessed my girlfriend’s ring size, purchased said without being hassled, and asked the lady who was going to make the ring to rush ship it.
My plan was this: Get the ring by Halloween, dress up in full costume, come to the door posing as a trick or treater (maybe with a baby stroller if I could acquire one easily to reduce the fear that seeing a lone adult-sized trick or treater could inspire) and propose that way. It was a brilliant plan, the only problem was, the ring didn’t make it on time and so I had to spend Halloween night with pumpkin beers, board games and horror movies. But no engagement hoopla.
The ring arrived from Canada the following Wednesday and I devised a new plan: My girlfriend and I used to go to a small air field near my parents’ house to watch the planes take off and land. We’d sit in the grass, eat water ice, it was like something out of a WB TV show … save for the big office complex behind us and the roadway which cut in front of us. Still, it could be very scenic.
The thing was though, we usually did that in the summer time. When it was still light out at night. And warm. Not in November. When it’s dark. And really cold. But what the hell, I thought, I’d already come up with two ideas, a third was pushing it. The trick or treater thing already seemed a little creepy before, but doing it a week after Halloween would almost certainly end up with the cops being called.
After dinner on the big night, I mentioned going to get ice cream. Now, I wanted the air field thing to be a surprise for a couple of reasons: one, surprises are fun and two, if she knew about it beforehand, she’d almost definitely try to talk me out of going there since it was cold and dark. In order for it to seem out of the blue, we had to go get ice cream somewhere in the vicinity of the air field. Driving twenty minutes to go get ice cream and then driving all the way back, plus another fifteen minutes past our house to go sit in the cold, well that seemed at best suspicious or at worst likely to be something that started an argument because it was so wildly impractical. So we had to be close to home.
Of course, first thing she says after agreeing to ice cream is “Maybe we can go to the faraway place.” Dear god. After some clever and light pressing, I managed to get her to agree to stick close to home. My plan was saved. We got our ice cream and we headed out. In a cool and causal manner, I said we were going to go somewhere we hadn’t gone to in a while. She asked where. I said it was a surprise. She guessed air field. First guess. Oh well, it wasn’t mission-critical that that part was a surprise, I guess. She kicked up a little fuss over the temperature and the dark, but was shockingly agreeable. On the way over, “Welcome to the Black Parade” by My Chemical Romance played on the radio. That’s likely symbolic of nothing, but it’s just more proof that important events need a My Chemical Romance soundtrack. They just do.
We parked in the lot next to the office complex in a spot which gave us a nice view of the airfield and sat in the car and ate our ice cream. I happened to notice a janitor lugging huge bags of garbage out from one of the office buildings into a dumpster. So like I said, not exactly WB TV-style, but close. I waited until the janitor was gone. I readied myself. Just then a middle-aged man deked from head-to-toe in yellow ran passed the car. I was horrified, but then I realized it was just a guy out enjoying a night jog and not some evil Big Bird-cultist like I’d initially expected. I re-readied myself. I said: “Well, maybe we should get out and have a look.” Keep in mind that in all the time we’d been sitting there, we’d seen no planes. The runway lights weren’t even on. There was no logical, earthly reason for us to even be there let alone to get out of the warm car and have a look. We could see nothing just as well from inside the car.
Once again, she was surprisingly agreeable to the idea of getting out and standing in the cold. This makes me think that on some subconscious level she knew what was going on. She got out, I dropped to one knee, asked the question, she agreed and that was it.
We spent the rest of the night breaking the news to friends and loved ones and there was much rejoicing, despite the hurried pace of it all. The only thing left to do, other than actually get married? Get the ring re-sized. It seems my guess was off and part of the night had to be devoted to soaping up her finger so we could get it off after I’d initially squeezed it on.
Now, I’m not telling you all this to try to convince you to follow this rambling, disjointed blueprint in your own romantic endeavors. There are probably steps you could cut out. The first trip to the mall where you just walk by jewelry stores for example. However, this is how I, a crazy person who lucked into meeting a great girl who tolerates and sometimes even enjoys that crazy, went about it and I it worked out pretty well for me.