After buying the ring, there was only a few things that needed to be figured out – how I was going to propose and how I was going afford to take the train home as I left every penny I had back at the jewelers. We’ve all seen the videos of guys going to extraordinary lengths to get their proposal to go viral and give women the world over unrealistic expectations of what men are capable of. I am not one such man. It was going to be candles, flowers, and mood music, it was going to be at home, and it was going to be when she didn’t expect it. I bought the ring on a Friday and decided it would all go down the following Tuesday as I was off work and, c’mon, who proposes on a Tuesday?
As I was a traditional man planning a traditional proposal, I first went and sought permission. There were tears, but as soon as I stopped crying I plucked up the courage to ask. There were obviously no objections because any woman would be lucky to have me, right? I told Bridie and Matthew on the Monday (I think) when I was going to do it and what I had planned. Tuesday morning, I set about the most difficult task of the day – tidying the room. It started out with carefully selecting clothes to wash and folding or hanging up others and ended up being a complete hatchet job whereby if the closet doors closed concealing the avalanche behind it, it was a success.
I emptied all of Christina’s make up and beauty products into enough bags and boxes to fill a storage locker and wondered how she was possibly ever going to apply all of this to her face. I put a little thought into how I would set up the room and then I scoured the house for candles. Surprisingly I managed to find a couple hundred little tea lights that were perfect for what I wanted. I set up 111 (not a special number, just what fit) of them on every available surface in the room and straightened them in to military lines. The place looked damn good. I was worried that I wouldn’t have enough time to do anything else before Christina came home as I checked the clock. It was 11am.
So maybe I overestimated how long it would take to get ready but I still had to pick the song that I was going to bend a knee to. Music is very important to me so I wanted the perfect song, one that encapsulated our love and our journey to this point, one that would sound good in the back ground sung by an artist that meant something. I remember deciding not to use Spotify for fear Christina tracked what I was listening to (I didn’t know about private sessions at the time) and went with Youtube (I didn’t know you could check someone’s history at the time) and started to put together a playlist. I compiled a list of 20 or so songs from almost exclusively Irish artists. After discounting every song she previously told me she disliked, I eventually settled on Someone Like You by Van Morrisson (mainly because she had probably never heard it). This entire process took about 4 hours and added about 400 hits to Van the Man’s Youtube.
It was into the afternoon now and I was starting to panic. I made decisions on what utensil I would use to light all of these candles. I went for the BBQ lighter ahead of a normal lighter or matches dues to speed and efficiency and tried a few dry runs to gauge how long it would take me to get around the entire room. I decided I could start lighting 10 minutes before she would come in the door. It would give enough time to get them all lit and get settled without the danger of any burning out. I decided on sweat pants and t shirt to wear as they decreased the likelihood of my crotch splitting open or a button popping off in the rush to get down to one knee. I had thought of everything.
I still had hours to kill and started peeping nervously out the window as I frantically paced around the house going nowhere in particular with Someone Like You blaring from my laptop. I went back and tested what sound level to play it at so that it wasn’t too quiet or too loud. I ran through the lyrics one more time and tried to decide what part of the song I would like playing when she came in the door and wondered how I could time that.
It was getting closer to showtime. Bridie and Matthew arrived home and promptly vacated the premises again as the time drew nearer. Christina called. She was on the bus that dropped her off downtown and so needed to be picked up. That was a problem I had foreseen but one I hoped I wouldn’t have to deal with. I didn’t want anything to seem out of kilter with every day happenings. I called Matthew and he said they could pick her up and called Christina back sounding like I was just too lazy to get off the couch. I believe I said I was watching House. At this point I made a frenzied dash for the room and shut the door behind me. The next person to open it would be Christina.
I frantically set about lighting the candles fumbling with lighter as if it was itself on fire (which it technically was). It took probably less than 5 minutes to light them all and I had shot the load by lighting them 5 minutes earlier than I should have anyway. I had little left to do other than practice opening the ring box while genuflecting and reciting the words I had planned over and over. It was going to be two simple lines and the second one was “Will you marry me?”
It was only at this point I realized how fucking hot it was. I was in a relatively small bedroom with the doors and windows closed, curtains drawn, and one hundred and eleven miniature fires burning all around me. It was sweltering. It wasn’t long before I started to fear for my life. I didn’t know much about science but I assumed that these candles were sucking up all of the oxygen in the room. Coupled with the heat and the anxiety I was sure I would pass out within minutes never to reawaken as the house crumbled down around me, sending screaming flames up into the sky as smoke billowed higher still into the atmosphere. Mostly though I worried about how sweaty I was. Maybe it would be better if I didn’t make it through this as I was sure to have massive sweat patches under my arms already and I’m sure they were spreading to my back. I was sure this was what hell must feel like.
Just as I was at the point of opening the door and running out of the room for sweet relief, I heard someone else enter the house. There was no going back now. All I could do was hope she wouldn’t leave me hanging for too long. She didn’t. She came bursting into the room and stopped at the door. I opened my mouth just in time for a lump to find its way to my throat. This caused me to stumble and stutter through my first line and threw off my perfectly-timed genuflect. All I could do to salvage the situation was to open the box as the sweat poured down my face, staining my sweat pants. I need not have worried. It was at this point her eyes widened and she ran in the direction of the box in my hand, grabbing the ring as if it was a Turbo Man doll and she was Arnold Schwarzenegger.
There was a fair chance this action signified that I got the desired answer but I checked to make sure. Yes, she said, yes of course it means yes. I’ll be honest I have seen her get more animated about other people’s engagements but looking back now I realize that her brain had already overtaken the excitement and gone directly into wedding planning mode. Meanwhile my body had already left the room and gone directly to the fridge for a chilled bottle of champagne and some much needed fresh air. It was too late to start calling Ireland at this point so we called a few neighbors and family for a very small impromptu celebration. I filled Christina in on my adventure that was getting the ring.
“So that’s why Miguel (her boss) has been acting so weird lately. He was looking at me really creepily on Friday and then yesterday (Monday) morning he came in and asked how my weekend was and looked at me for an extra long time.” Amateur Miguel assumed I was going to pop the question over the weekend. Who proposes on a Tuesday, right? And what did you think of the song I had playing when you came in? I asked, already knowing what the answer was going to be. “Oh, there was music playing?” she replied.