Ladyfriend and me. We're, like, engaged now.
YES!! EXCITEMENT & JOY WITH FIREWORKS & BUNNIES ABUNDANT!!!!!
Also, I'm kinda cynical about it.
Ladyfriend and I play this little game that we like to call, "How many of your friends are getting married?" Go on Facebook on Sunday evening and mark all the new engagements and marriages that you can find. The winner varies, but we average at around 3 each. That's 6 couples, per weekend, announcing their engagement or performing their wedding. Maybe we're an anomaly, but that sure seems syruptuously high. As in, higher than the amount of syrup I use on my pancakes.
My parents eloped to Montana at age 18. They're cooler than most people. My Dad picked up my Mom at her house in the middle of the night, scooped her out of bed, and drove her away on his motorcycle. I like to imagine the motorcycle was painted with phoenix wings, he wore 20 pounds of leather to cover his full-body eagle tattoos, and his helmet was shaped like a Jack-o-Lantern; but alas, 'tis false.
Here's the thing. When I look at all those engagements on Facebook, the sheer number of them degrades the specialness. How silly! Of course it's special! It's a big deal to plan a wedding, and a real big deal to choose to get married. However, when you see all your friends getting married, it becomes little more than novelty. The specialness of the event becomes more like a meme that gets posted by all your dorky Facebook friends, and then before you know it, the good feeling's gone.
I find that this is how I feel with Facebook in general. Post a thing, thing gets caught in social media mayhem, thing passes from existence. I don't want that to happen to my engagement. I have waited some time to post this announcement because of that, but I have reached the moment. It's time. Here's our story.
My Proposal Story
I proposed on January 15th, 2017, at 9:15 pm. That happens to be Ladyfriend's birthday (not a coincidence). I had wanted to propose for several months, but I needed to gussy up the courage to feel confident. That, and because I ran into one roadblock after another that prevented my glorious plot.
In August, I asked Ladyfriend's parents and her sister for their blessing because they have a really strong relationship with her, and I wanted to respect that. They approved of me, but probably only because I asked while we were stuck up north at a family cabin and they didn't want to interrupt their fishing and hiking (I cornered 'em; like a bad hunter). I had already bought the ring for her, which I kept in a Limoges ring box (pictured above). That box is a story in itself, because 1) did you know all Minnesota jewelers in won't sell you just plain velvet ring boxes? and 2) the freaking French company charged me $200 for the box, then told me it was no longer being made, so I had to find a different one. I did. A better one. From somebody else. Ha.
The plan was to rent out a local movie theater for a private screening of a video I made for her about us. Adorbs, I know. That sentence was way easier to write than it was to act upon.
Firstly, it's next to impossible to plan a surprise for someone who is an incessant planner like Ladyfriend:
"Lady, would you like to go to the movies on Sunday?"
Instead I had to come up with the perfect scheme to fool her into believing she had planned the proposal without even knowing it.
Secondly, I had to create a secret video. What would it be? Easy. I'd been thinking about this for years, in fact. Over the past 4 years of our relationship, we took lots and lots of videos and pictures together. I made a point to make lots of silly videos whenever we did something fun together so I could look back on them later, and, yes, create an epic review of our relationship. Love and stuff. But what would I say?
I figured I had to say something to her in the video. So, being the actor I am, I wrote out a script (a pretty darn awful one) that started with me "accidentally walking on screen." I then would attempt to get out, before realizing I must be trapped on the movie screen in front of Ladyfriend for a reason. Here's an excerpt from the end of the script for you, in case you're interested.
"THE BIG SQUASH"
Hmmm.. I'm supposed to apologize for something.
That was the first draft, of course. You're allowed to laugh at it, because none of it survived. Even when I read it now, I face palm.
I did, however, film the whole thing. 3 times. Twice in my kitchen, but the footage was too blurry and the lighting sucked, and once in a TV studio at my alma mater. I fully edited the entire thing after the third take, but then I trashed the whole thing and started over. Partly because Ladyfriend and I got in a fight and I was mad (and a drama queen), partly because it was the worst thing I'd ever created. After we made up, I had a fit of inspiration and recreated a portion about our memories, before adding a bit of silent footage of me. 'Twas much better. No words necessary. Let the memories speak for themselves, you know?
So that was done. Next, I had to plan the event.
Plan A. I booked the local theater in November and planted the brain seed in October, "Lady, are there any movies you'd like to see? Perhaps at [local movie theater]?" She didn't take the bait right away, but I asked her again in November, and we decided to go see some random movie that I don't remember. Needless to say, it didn't quite work out that way. The theater canceled on me a week before the date, and I was foiled. I tried again for the first week of December, but the theater thought, "Hey, this engagement isn't that important to us. Let's just forget about it." So they did, and thus, big ol' red X's painted my heart with pain, rejection, and tears (I won't tell you which local theater, because I don't want to taint your view of it).
Plan B. I spent December frantically seeking another cool and local theater that I could afford to rent, would be awesome to have a private screening in, and could accommodate a secret camera and a violinist (which I also decided to implement, since Plan A took a permanent smoke break). After contact with 5 different theaters, I settled on a date in December. Then, the earlier mentioned fight between Ladyfriend and me ensued, and I canceled (yes, I know, I'm causing my own problems at this point). A few days later, I rescheduled for, drum roll... January 15th.
A month and a half pass by where Josh waits for the date to arrive. Ladyfriend asks Josh multiple times when he will propose. He declares, "definitely not on your birthday." She believes him.
A flurry of events take place just before the 15th, boiling Josh's blood:
› January 13th, the couple plans to have dinner with her family on the 15th, just before the proposal event.
› January 13th, the couple discovers there's a winter storm planned for the 16th, and her dad needs to leave home early on the 15th.
› January 13th, the couple reschedules the birthday dinner for the 14th.
› January 14th, family birthday dinner, followed by the re-planning of what the couple is going to do on the 15th leading up to the proposal event. Josh tells her he has a gift for her, and since he knows she doesn't like surprises, he offers to tell her what it is. She declines. He mentally fist bumps the sky.
› January 14th, she spends the night at his apartment. She is sad that she won't be waking up to a home decorated for her birthday, as is tradition in her family. After she falls asleep, Josh decides to decorate the apartment using ripped newspapers as streamers (pictured below). He is up until 3 AM decorating.
›January 15th. The day. The couple decides to attend a wedding fair and pretend they're engaged. They do, and find nothing that they like. They stop for smoothies. They determine to go to a jazz club. They stop to take pictures on the frozen lake. They get dressed all cute. They go to a diner for dinner. They go to the Dakota Jazz Club and listen to folk music by Molly Tuttle Band. They drink wine. He tells her it's time to give her the gift. He navigates her to the Trylon Microcinema at 9:00 PM, without telling her where they're going. They play 20 Questions until she guesses "correctly" that they're going to see the movie Casablanca at a tiny movie theater. She gets disappointed.
At this point, it became clear to me that she was totally fooled. She thought I was going to propose, but when we arrived, she lost hope. I kept up my excited facade for her as we got popcorn and sat down in the second row, where I had previously pointed the secret camera to catch her reaction. I distracted her by pointing out how cool the space was, but she didn't want to sit there because it was too close to the screen. Keep in mind, the screen is probably only 25 ft and there are only 5 rows of seats. So I INSISTED we had to sit there, and she started getting that flame in her eyes which means, "You're being a butt-head."
I quickly got up to use the bathroom, leaving her alone in the theater. As I left, the Pixar short, Paperman played. It's one of our favorites. In fact, when we first started dating, she had covered my room in paper air planes and gave me one with a lipstick kiss on it, just like in the movie. I still have it. As she watched it, the violinist prepared herself in the lobby with me while I put on a suit and tie and practiced my knee-bending. After Paperman, my little video started. I called it The Big Squash. She told me later that when she saw my face, her heart dropped and she knew that was the moment her life was going to change. She cried through most of it. At the end, the video told her to meet me in the lobby. The violinist started playing "Dream a Little Dream of Me," which is our song, as she walked out, gushing tears. I held out my hands, kissed her forehead, and got down on one knee (probably the wrong knee). We locked eyes for a few moments before I took out the ring box and asked her to marry me. She nodded, and said, "You bet."
And that's how it happened. After that, we spent 2 hours watching/talking through Casablanca in the private theater, and I told her all that I'm telling you now. Whether or not you find this special is cool. It was special to me. I learned that an experience is only what you make of it; only how you react and respond. Only what you take in. Use your senses, remember it, live it, breathe it. Now, I respond to my future with Ladyfriend with love, dedication, commitment, honesty, and trust. I have learned a vast amount from this experience, and I will continue to learn more every day with her. I hope that everyone can someday find someone they want to learn about life from.
Thanks for listening. Be glad and confident,
Actor, Director, Creator, Dork