On this date, eight years ago, I asked my wife to marry me. Here’s how it went down.
DeAnne and I started dating in February of 2004, after I asked for her phone number at the end of a church group winter retreat. Technically, I asked, “So, do you have a phone?”, which she kindly understood what I meant and jotted it down for me. I have a way with words.
Our first date was February 20th and consisted of me waiting at the entrance of the restaurant where we were to meet for hours on end, telling myself that I had not been stood up, eventually calling her house, leaving a message, waiting some more, getting a phone call that her car had broken down, but that she was getting a ride with someone else and she would need a lift home after the date, to which I said yes. She showed up and saw me sitting at the entrance with a sign bearing her name (like at an airport). This lifted the tension a bit. After dinner at Kahunaville in the mall(the restaurant is closed now and in its place is a furniture shop), we got tickets to a late showing of the Adam Sandler comedy, “Fifty First Dates”. But since my carefully crafted schedule was thrown out the window by her broken-down car, we had time to kill before the movie. Lacking other ideas, we drove to a nearby grocery store (Why did we leave the mall? I don’t know. I was nervous.) and walked the international foods aisle, which I said was how I got my culture. We returned to the mall in time to see the movie, which was okay, but the company was far better.
Fast forward to almost a year later. It is late January. DeAnne’s birthday is coming up. I know that I love her and that I want to spend the rest of my life with her. It took months of careful saving, but I bought the ring (another adventure for another post) and had been hanging on to it for at least a month. I knew her rules for how the question should be popped (not in public, not surrounded by friends or family, and I must have her father’s blessing). All I was waiting for was the right opportunity.
Even though I had the ring at Christmas, I didn’t want to ask during Christmas, because I wanted the date to stand out for its own significance. I wanted to do it soon, and I wanted it to be a surprise, so I decided to make it seem like I was just doing something for her birthday. I made sure that we both had the day off and told her to let me plan the whole day.
Now, you might be asking yourself if she suspected something at this point. Fair question. She was certainly hoping that I was going to ask soon. But an unforeseen transmission replacement right after Christmas had her convinced that anything I had saved for a ring was now changing gears in my car (that’s was a transmission does). In fact, she went to her sister a couple of days before our special “birthday” celebration and cried about how I wasn’t going to ask her soon because of my stupid car. Of course, you’ll remember that I had already had the ring by this point, so the car repair just came out of my savings.
Well, dawn broke on our special day and I showed up bright and early with homemade Monkey Bread and the first of many homemade “birthday” cards. The first card contained a riddle and the promise of more clues. The riddle said, “Farms have these; they’re made of wood. Plus one more name for right and good.”
So we went to Barnes and Noble Booksellers, where we had spent a fair amount of time together while dating. At the cafe in Barnes and Noble, a present (a gift card and a hot drink) and another card/clue were waiting for her. This clue consisted of a series of questions, the answers of which fit into a grid where certain letters were circled. After the questions were all answered, the circled letters spelled the next location, which was Eddie Bauer.
Eddie Bauer was my employer at the time and they made possible my saving up for the ring. They also have fine quality clothing that lasts a long time. When we got there, DeAnne went to the counter were a package (a nice, warm sweatshirt) was waiting for her along with her next card/clue. In the card was a picture of a cow with a speech bubble, an arrow pointing to the speech bubble minus the letter “O” plus “VVVVVVV”. That’s right, we were off to the movies.
It was a morning showing of “Meet the Fockers”. Don’t judge, there weren’t many options that morning. Anyway, at the ticket counter, another card/clue was handed to DeAnne before we went into the theater. The clue was this, “This garden will your hunger sate, with bread sticks always on your plate.” The movie ended around noon and we left for lunch at Olive Garden, DeAnne’s favorite restaurant.
At this point, DeAnne was pretty sure that the day’s surprises were done. We saw a movie, she got a couple of gifts, and now we were eating out. Obviously, a fair amount of planning had gone into her birthday celebration, since she was recognized at each place and handed something to open. She thanked me for a really nice birthday and asked what we were going to do for the rest of the day. I told her that it wasn’t over yet. Just then, her next card/clue came with our bill.
This clue sent us to the grocery store where we had walked the international food aisle so many months before, but on this day, we went in search of some snacks to sustain us for the remainder of the day. We checked out at the help desk, where she got another card/clue. It sent us “where Hollywood’s library is certainly Grand, but overdue fees can get out of hand.” And so we went to the movie rental place near her house, Grand Video, for a couple of movies to watch that night.
Now, I don’t know if they are still open or not, but when I showed up there the day before to drop off the next clue and leave a picture of DeAnne and I (which is how the employees at each place knew us on sight), the manager gave me some free movie vouchers just because he thought I was doing something cool. So if you live in the Grandville/Hudsonville area, and if you don’t do Netflix or something like it, give your video rental business to Grand Video. Anyway, DeAnne and I went there together, the clerk handed DeAnne another card/clue. I was really stretching by this time, so the clue said this, “Umm, clues for the next few places were really hard to come up with, so basically you’ll just have to trust me and follow my lead. I love you!”
We were near her house and it was getting cold, so we stopped by to pick up some warm clothes and a blindfold. So far, all of the places that we had gone that day had some significance throughout our dating relationship, but this time we were off to somewhere new, somewhere that I hoped would have a special significance all its own. After leaving her house, I had her put on a blindfold and I drove her to a park.
I imagined that the park would be a very nice place to come back to in future years, but on this cold night in Michigan, I had forgotten that the sun goes down obscenely early and that I would be asking for her hand practically in the dark. In any case, I had a flashlight, but the view that I imagined was ruined.
So we got out of the car at the park. Still blindfolded, DeAnne followed my lead up a hill in the dark and I gave her the final card. It had a little mushy writing and the letters w-i-l-l-u-o-y-r-r-a-m-e arranged in the question mark. While she was trying to read it there in the dark, I pulled out the ring box and got down on one knee in the snow. Since she seemed confused, I asked out loud.
“DeAnne, will you marry me?”
Now, what happened next has been debated for eight years. DeAnne says that her first word was, “yes,” followed by, “wow,” followed by, “my dad agreed to this?”. I insist that it happened in reverse order. Either way, she said yes eventually and we headed back to her house where her family all knew what was happening and greeted us with congratulatory hugs.
It was a perfect day, and it’s been a wonderful eight years. I’m so glad she said yes. I love you DeAnne!