I feel like a secret agent who has had his secret identity revealed. As if a weight has been lifted and I am able to finally reveal the Jason Bourne-style secrets to the top secret mission which I have been working on for the past several weeks. So, I apologize, if I’ve been distracted for the past week or so when we’ve interacted, I’ve been thinking about this a great deal. I had to make sure that this went off without a hitch, and I think I can say “Mission accomplished.”
Yesterday, I took Katie on a whirlwind surprise day going across Orlando to do new and exciting things; culminating in our surprise wedding proposal (complete with magic trick) and her saying YES!
It began over two months ago as I decided that I was indeed going to join my life with Katie’s, and so began the plan. Because, dear friends, if you know me, you know that I wouldn’t settle for anything less than awesome. Also, with this plan I knew secrecy was of the utmost importance. Katie has a sixth sense combined with eyes in the back of her head and a wicked ability to guess when and with what I’m going to surprise her. I tend to default to the unplanned "improvise it" strategy but if I have to plan something, I’ll overplan it.
My first plan was chock full of awesome, but was also riddled with holes where things could go wrong and ruin the whole affair. I’ll spare you all the details but let me just say that it required five other people, all musicians, to be involved with it. And after some consideration I rejected that idea and turned to another equally awesome but less risky possibility.
Three weeks ago I told her to block yesterday off her calendar. It was going to be a surprise day. This wasn't completely suspicious, we had a tendency to book days for just us where we'd go out and do things.
First step to awesomeness: do the unexpected. I kept her guessing by dropping false hints as we approached the day. Like I said, Katie is very skilled at guessing what I have planned, so I had to be extremely careful around her.
First we headed out to breakfast at Christo’s on Edgewater. A great little restaurant that came very highly recommended. We enjoyed a nice meal and then went off to Leu Gardens. Leu Gardens is a botanical garden here in Orlando, spread over 50 acres it has beautiful plants and lots of trees. Since Katie hadn’t gone before and I hadn’t been there in over a decade, we enjoyed it a great deal! Unfortunately, though, it was quite hot. We decided to cut the visit short and not to see the whole property but we enjoyed what we did see.
As we were leaving Leu Gardens deciding what to do next we discovered that the Enzian Theater had a matinee of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Katie and I love to visit the Enzian theater for a movie. They have a great theater and their food is excellent. We enjoyed the movie and after leaving we headed to the Orlando Science Center.
Now, normally, this wouldn’t excite most people but I had two aces in my sleeve. First, they had an exhibit about Mr. Potato Head, which Katie collects. Second was that Katie had not been to the Science Center since it moved to its new location which was probably fifteen years ago. Two recipes that nearly guarantee a win.
Unfortunately, the Science Center was a bit of a let down. It was without AC (which had apparently been that way for two months) and the Potato Head Exhibit was for very young kids. Which, in retrospect, we should have expected. Oops. But we enjoyed ourselves none-the-less. We played with the exhibits and then left. It was at the exhibit that I nearly had a heart attack. One of the attractions in the exhibit was something that was trying to teach children about hieroglypics using Mr. Potato Head style drawings. Katie went over to it and fiddled with it for a few moments before giving me a note which had three different drawings on it, one of which was a big diamond ring. Oh no! She was asking me when I was going to propose to her?? She knew!? But I decided to keep cool and so I played it off and we laughed and said something noncommital like, "Oh, we'll see."
From the science center we headed back home for a brief intermission. We walked Mattie, cleaned ourselves up after sweating in the heat, before then headed back out. We decided to grab an early-ish dinner at Bento which is a great sushi pan-asian restaurant on Orange ave.
As we left the car for dinner I grabbed my man-purse from the back, slinging it over my shoulder. Katie didn’t think anything of it, little did she know what it actually held. [insert evil laugh here]
After dinner I casually suggested that we go enjoy a walk around Lake Eola. So, we made our way down there and began walking around the lake. Chitchatting as we went and after going about half-way around we came to the Chinese pagoda. I suggested we go sit for a bit. Then, after sitting for a few minutes, I casually said, “So, I want to try this magic trick out on you…” Katie knew I have been working on my card tricks recently so she agreed and I pulled a deck of cards out of my bag (this may have been odd for other people, but I carry a deck of cards for just this reason. And NO I won’t promise to do magic next time I see you.)
I riffle the deck and ask her to pick a card, she pulls it out, looks at it, and then I have her slip it back into the deck. I could have sold it better but instead I just immediately said, “Alright, so now reach into my bag and there’s a zipped pocket in the back. Open it.” She expected me to have the card planted there, or something similar. But what she found was a ring box. I took it from her when she pulled it out, I opened it and asked her, “Will you marry me?”
Katie was in total shock. She couldn’t quite process it. Mission accomplished, I had completely blindsided her. “Yes. Of course!” I smiled and kissed her, then pulled back and said, “Now, for the sake of completeness…” Yes I actually said this. “There’s a piece of paper rolled up inside the ring in the box, pull it out and see what it says. “Q [poorly drawn heart]” – Her brain is fried it’s short-circuiting everywhere. She didn’t understand what it meant. “Your card, it was the Queen of Hearts.” I explained helpfully. And yes, that was her card.
Now she was completely blown away. Her world was rocked. She was astounded. It was my crowning achievement. My Muhammed Ali one-two punch for the world championship. My perfectly executed play as the clock wound down to hit the winning shot.
In truth, my biggest point of stress wasn’t whether she would say yes or not, it was whether I would screw up the magic trick in my nervousness. It wasn’t a complicated trick, but I still worried I’d screw it up.
We kissed, hugged, and called family. Lots of phone calls. Her family, many of whom were altogether which made it simpler. I called my dad, my siblings, my grandmom, and a few close friends. Then I tweeted the news and watched our phones blow up as we got well wishes and excited responses from our friends and family.
After about 30 minutes of phone calls and sitting we gathered up and made our way back to the car. Once there I didn’t let Katie sit down yet, I got in and turned it on, put on the iPod and cranked it to play Stevie Wonder’s ‘For Once in my Life‘ to which we danced there next to the car in the parking lot. We held each other, laughed, got teary eyed, and swayed with the music. The song is only two and a half minutes long, but it’s such a great song. Once it ended, we kissed and got in the car to head to SAK.
We went to SAK, told and retold this story, convinced people it wasn’t a prank (a side effect of comedy clubs, people are wary of practical jokes) and we hugged a lot of friends who were excited for us. We watched part of the show but by this time we were both beginning to wind down and feel the exhaustion setting in.
A few quick questions to answer:
- No we do not have a date set. It will be sometime in 2010, but we have no idea on anything more specific than that.
- Please don’t start asking us about kids. We took nearly three years to get to this step. We won’t be rushed, we’re going to do it on our own time.
- No I won’t explain the magic trick to you.
- Yes I am available for consulting on your proposal planning.
Yesterday was our long, awesome, amazing, magical, stressful, wonderful, unbelievable, dreamlike, everything-I-could-hope-for day.
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