Mike had a plan. A relatively simple, well-thought out plan. The only thing he couldn’t account for was me ( and the perpetually orbiting black cloud of chaos that often follows me). Here’s the story of how Mike’s Plan (or as he calls our relationship, ‘How I Tamed the Wild Beast’, that brat) miraculously came to fruition.
Here’s Plan A, as I understood it, anyway. To start: everyone who knows Mike is aware that he’s a bit of football nut. He and his dad are Giants season ticket holders, so if it’s a home game, he’s there, rain or shine; and if it’s an away game, he’s home in front of the TV whooping and hollering and generally scaring the wits out of our roommates. (We’re very rarely allowed to watch the game anywhere else but at home, to ensure there will be no interruptions! You do not speak during an Eli Manning drive!)
So when I saw that there were two consecutive Giants-free weekends in October (first, the weekend they didn’t play until Monday night, then their Bye week) I tried to arrange a football-free vacation. We were going to go upstate to a friend’s cabin for the weekend, but it ended up not being available and Michael said he wanted to bring my dog up from NJ for a visit anyway. So that was Plan B.
A week before the fated day (October 23rd!) our car started leaking coolant. Mike noticed while leaving the Giants game and drove it down to our mechanic in Monmouth County. He told us he could try a patch job to avoid a much larger and more expensive repair, and by Thursday he’d finished. So we enacted Plan C- take the train down to Jersey Friday evening, meet up with his parents for dinner and drive back with my dog for the weekend.
Plan C was going great- his parents picked us up, we picked up our car, we all went to dinner at Kelly’s; Mike and I picked up my dog, bought some beer and wine for the weekend, and headed back towards the parkway. About a mile from it, we stopped at a light and saw white smoke pouring out from under the hood. Turns out the patch job couldn’t hold it after all. By this point it was past 10pm. I was ready to throw in the towel- take my dog back, leave the car at the garage again, spend the night at his parents and take the train home in the morning, and try the whole thing again next weekend.
I should’ve gotten suspicious when Mike ignored my practical suggestion and instead came up with Plan C- borrow his parents’ car for the weekend. It seemed like a really big favor to ask late on a Friday night when we could’ve easily rescheduled, but he insisted. I thought he just wanted to make sure I got some time with my dog, so I went along. I should’ve been even more suspicious when his mom not only readily agreed to loan us her car, but actually offered it before Mike even asked! She met us at the garage in her pajamas and didn’t show any hint of alarm as my 130 pound sweetheart mongrel, Ruby, launched herself into the backseat of her pristine Accord. I tried apologizing for the inconvenience but was rebuffed. I vaguely remember thinking, “Boy, Mike and his mother are just so agreeable!” We finally made it home close to 1:00am and all crashed (me, Mike and Ruby too) on the bed.
The next day, Mike suggested we take Ruby to our favorite park, Fort Greene Park. We’ve taken Ruby there every time she’s been up for a visit. In fact, the first time we ever visited the park was with Ruby. During that first walk, we came across the steps leading up to the war memorial and mused on what a cool spot it would be for a wedding. Ruby and I even posed for some fake wedding/engagement photos (in which I’m taking her paw in holy matrimony, har har har).
One last near-disaster had to be attended to- as we were walking around the park (Mike steering us in one direction, which still didn’t set off any bells in my head) my phone rang. It was Pete, our mechanic, letting us know that he would have to replace our entire something or other, which would cost about $800. When Mike realized who I was talking to and what he was saying, his heart sank, as he told me later. “I was so worried that you were going to freak out or be upset about the cost and here I was planning on proposing to you in about 3 minutes.” However, I’d known that if the patch job wouldn’t work we’d be looking at something in this neighborhood, so in our one stroke of good luck, I didn’t freak out. (I don’t think this is true at all but Mike INSISTS that I am prone to freak out. I don’t know what he’s talking about. ;) I am the epitome of cool, calm and collected.)
We started talking about how happy we are together. (Which, folks, I have to interrupt and say that WE ARE. It kind of amazes both of us how well we fit together. But I’ll save the gooey stuff for another post…) Then Mike suggested we go off the path in the direction of the steps. The foliage that day was gorgeous, and I, being the picture of elegance, made Mike take pictures of me with my head poking through some leafy branches just moments before he proposed. After that silly photo, we walked a few feet and Mike put his arm around me and kept telling me how much he loved me. Then I looked down and his hand was moving around in his pocket. He pulled out a box and opened it and asked me to marry him. Apparently he got down on one knee too, but I was so stunned I really have no memory of it happening! I just stared at him and said “What? Stop. Seriously? Seriously? Shut up! Are you kidding?? Seriously? For real? Are you kidding? Oh my god. Oh my god. Oh my god!!!” until finally Mike said “So are you going to answer me? Will you marry me?” And I said yes and I cried and we kissed and hugged and I jumped up and down and finally looked at the ring, which was gorgeous. Platinum, completely surrounded by pave diamonds with a brilliant round diamond in the center.
I was kind of in shock. But finally, after about ten or fifteen minutes of watching us blubber and jump around (okay, watching ME blubber and jump around) Ruby finally got impatient. Amazingly, she had stood perfectly still and waited during this whole exchange. I think I must have been holding her leash in my hand the whole time, but I don’t remember. So we started walking again, through the park, while Mike told me all he’d done to pull this off. After another 45 minutes or so, we decided to go grab lunch to go at one of our favorite Sunday lunch spots, Pillow in Clinton Hill, and then we started the phone calls. Mike called his mother from the car and I called my sister. Of course Mike had given almost everyone the heads up already so they were already laughing and excited for us. We brought home our wraps and did the rest of the phone calls slowly through out the rest of the day. I think my favorite call was to my friend Jessica, the only person I spoke to that day who didn‘t know it was coming. It was fun to be the one surprising someone else that day!
We spent the rest of the day just hanging out. (We drove down to NJ the next day to drop off the car and so I could tell the rest of my family in person, but it turned out they were all scattered in different places so I ended up telling them by phone.) That night I opened a bottle of Moet and we spent the night hanging out together and playing with Ruby.
I was completely, utterly shocked and surprised. It is VERY hard to get anything past me, mainly because I’m terribly paranoid and a major over-thinker. I read something into everything and am therefore hardly ever surprised. Also, poor Michael didn’t even know how to propose to someone when we first started talking about it. He actually asked me, “So, like, how do you do it? Do you just, like, ask, or… ? And when? Where?” I gave him a list of scenarios and expected him to do it at a dinner out. I thought he’d want to get some champagne in me first to help guarantee a Yes. JK. I’m amazed Mike pulled it off. AMAZED. And so, so happy!