After popping the question, my new fiancé and I parked outside of a Chick-Fil-A in my mom’s SUV and stuffed our faces with chicken sandwiches and waffle fries.
This wasn’t part of the plan, and as far as I knew, it didn’t sound like any plan I heard of.
My plan to propose to my girlfriend Megan was simple: take her to dinner, propose, celebrate with family and friends at a bar. The details of the first and last part of the plan were set. The second part — where I propose — was not. I only knew that at some point between dinner and the bar afterward, my knee would drop at some point. I just didn’t know where.
Several people asked me how I should do it. I answered their question with another question. “I don’t know, how should I do it?”
A lot of people told me their stories about proposing or being proposed to. About 90% were the same: the question was asked in the kitchen of someone’s house. Nothing wrong with that. In fact, I thought that was a great idea. But everyone who told that story told me not to do that.
They suggested a variety of parks and scenic venues, places with a romantic ambience.
Two things about me: I have a massive head and zero romantic attributes. The most romantic gesture I ever did for someone was cook them dinner, and I only did that because I also wanted to eat.
My dad suggested I propose in the restaurant we were going to. I politely declined by staring off into space and not responding to his suggestion. Then I laid out how that wouldn’t work since I have the athletic prowess of a boulder.
I’d most likely fumble the ring into a pasta dish or bump my ass into someone’s table and spill their glasses of wine. With everyone in the restaurant talking, I’d have to speak rather loudly in order for her to hear me. But if I did that I’d petrify my girlfriend as then everyone would be looking at her because a bear in a sports coat is yelling at her to marry him.
A week went by and I had no definitive plan. Thankfully, my uncle had suggested a newly build piazza (Italian for baseball catcher) down the street from the restaurant. It was a great idea, but giving him the satisfaction of using his advice didn’t sit well with me. So, I used that as the Plan B to my non-existent Plan A.
Then we approached the restaurant and Plan B became Plan A. There was no parking in the lot next door, so we had to park on the street.
“While we’re down here, let’s check out this piazza,” I said.
After struggling to parallel an SUV on a crammed street (see: Austin Powers in a hallway), we got out of the vehicle. While exiting, I saw a couple dressed to the nines walking past us. I feared that maybe they, too, would head to the piazza. I began to sweat, more so than usual.
Sure, I could have proposed in front of them. But then they’d witness it and likely want to be a part of the moment, like clapping or saying “congrats.” I know that reads trivial but trust me, it’s not.
Thankfully, we were alone. We entered the piazza and using the skills I gained in high school acting classes, I pretended to care about the structure of the piazza and the fountain inside of it to really sell the con that I was just wanted to look around.
“Wow, marble, huh?”
As soon as she turned around, I dropped to my knee. In hindsight, I should have eased myself down as driving my knee into solid rock with my entire bodyweight was not a pleasant experience.
She turned around and immediately thought I was joking. I was not. I pulled out the ring and simply asked her to marry me. I thought about trying to recite some dumb, corny line I thought of in the shower but I was nervous and my knee was in a great deal of pain so decided to skip it and just straight-up ask her.
Since we missed my reservation, and because we didn’t want to wait an hour to eat, we went to Chick-Fil-A. We laughed at ourselves from the time we entered the drive-thru until I finished all of my meal and half of hers.
I couldn’t have planned it any better myself.
And that’s because I didn’t.