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“The Love Question”

Chivalry was alive and well in my world. Staring destiny in the face, and despite the complicated nature of my intentions, my greater self prevailed by refusing to go down in history as the man who proposed with a Cracker Jack diamond or popped the question with a resounding, “I thought it’d be better if we went shopping for your ring together.”

The following ingredients were stewing in my magic bag: one solid marriage proposal plan, transportation, a loyal ally, cold hard cash, bravado, and “where there’s a will there’s a way” attitude. You wanna know how I did it? This is how I did it.

It was Friday, June 27, 2008. My travels had taken me from Boston to Amsterdam to Berlin. I found myself hiding behind an anxious group of travelers in the baggage claim area of Tegel Airport, attempting to make yet another switch: the ring would be transferred from my front pocket to a small jewelry box in my carry-on.

The heavy perspiration that soaked my brow was not indicative of any pre-proposal jitters. I was a sweat and smell monster due to my position next to the village idiot on the plane, who shined brightly as Mr. No Manners with bad body odor and a penchant for armrests and personal space invasion. Nevertheless, I’d have to put any bitterness behind me, since I was about to knock on relationship door number two (that’s the one just before marriage).

She was standing there in the airport lobby awaiting my arrival. When I caught that first glimpse of her, I immediately backed away. I threw my bag over to my other shoulder and then arched my head forward another time, which was just enough to get a look at her bright smile and awkward wave. Fortunately, nobody was tailing me, and I hadn’t left any sort of popcorn trail, so it was time to make my move on over to the luggage belt and then on through the security area.

At first, Kathleen and I were happy to see each other after a two-plus week break. But on the car ride back to her parents’ house things turned mildly sour when I became delirious and cranky due to lack of sleep. I really wasn’t too concerned about the impression I was giving, though. Emotionally guarding the newly purchased diamond ring was all I could manage given my mental capacity at the time. And if I may say so myself, there was a considerable amount of effort put forth for the big purchase.

For weeks I’d been reading articles on the Internet to educate myself on the four C’s of diamond buying. After feeling like I had a comfortable grasp of things, I crafted a purchasing guidelines and specifications sheet that looked like it had been created by a world-renowned gemologist. With the aid of a close ally—my mother—and her aging Chevy Impala, my personal diamond buying guide would finally get to meet its customers.

We drove in secrecy to and from our top two jewelry store draft picks, while in between getting down to the nitty-gritty details of diamond purchasing over flavored iced coffees. My ally didn’t even hesitate to pull out all the stops, either, offering bold-faced lies to my father and her friends regarding our ongoing activities. Her support proved worthy, however, as the dreaded phone call to Nick at the large, friendly jewelry retailer for a refund on my deposit was a call only a mother could make. The quirky local jeweler down the street instead turned out to be the man who would capture my imagination—with a near pristine diamond that had my love’s name written all over it.

Getting the rock through the airport and across the pond was the easy part. The hard part was keeping my composure and combating any potential threats against its safekeeping. While Kathleen and I drove in her mother’s car, I would occasionally turn my head so as to glance at the backseat where my bag lay. As if some imaginary ring burglar was going to break into a moving car and snatch up my prize. Surely I was delirious. The anticipation was making me crazy, and I was desperately ready to hit the sack by the time we arrived at my future in-laws’ house. With our pre-established plans for me to take a nap in the afternoon and for her to meet an old friend in the city, it was starting to become a reality.

All I can remember is waking up in an agitated state after having slept for several hours in a freshly made German bed. This was it. I would have to find a way to muster up some courage and get a little bit of energy. Unfortunately, I felt like a bad hangover that had been hit by a train. I slowly eased my way down the stairs and into the bathroom for a quick shower. The coast was clear, but when I started back up the stairs not more than ten minutes later, I could hear my cell phone vibrating. What was this? She was calling to say she’d be home in five minutes. Panic time.

I got dressed as quickly as I could and then fished my handwritten note in German out of my bag. It was all I would need in order to get her father’s blessing; I’d say a few words in German and ask for his permission to take his daughter’s hand in marriage. I stumbled down the stairs and then peeked around the corner.

Oh no! Where was he? No Papa in sight. But her mother was there, sitting in a leather chair in the living room watching television. Ah, the hell with it. Like a total fool, I motioned toward Mama and then made some additional weird gestures. I took the folded up piece of paper out of my back pocket and began reading:

Ich möchte Kathleen heiraten. Ich möchte bitte deine Erlaubnis.” (I would like to marry Kathleen. I would like your permission please.)

She gave me the look you give to someone who’s just made an ass of himself, you know, the one you give when you feel really bad for a person. I think I got something of an okay and then scurried on out of there with my tail between my legs. At least I got it over with. I even made sure to include a little message for her father to see. But just when I thought I’d made it over the first mountain, I got pulled back down again. Here comes her father strolling through the door with the grandmother. As a matter of fact, I can’t even recall if Kathleen came home before them. All I know is that my act would require yet another take, and this time it needed to happen in the least discreet area of the house—near the front door! I was bound to get caught but didn’t care. I asked him if he had a moment and then fired away.

“You sure this is the right time,” he said in German-English.

“Yeah,” I said. And that’s when he gave it to me: the thumbs up.

When the smoke finally cleared, I asked Kathleen about our dinner plans in the city. I was fairly certain she hadn’t a clue about my intended proposal. A week prior, I had suggested an evening out to celebrate our relationship anniversary on this particular night. We were thinking along the lines of a quaint Italian restaurant. There would be no surprises. Or so she thought.

The ultimate surprise came when we stepped out of the car and walked across the street, on our way to that restaurant in Berlin for an enchanting evening dinner. It was a calm night with dusk slowly coming upon us. I got down on one knee and popped the question. She gave a slight pause. And then she said yes.

Comments

I got lucky with my wife's ring. It was an old world diamond passed down through the family. My mother gave it to me to give to my fiancée, so I never had to pick one out! We just had to get it resized after I gave it to her.

Sounds like your father-in-law gave you a pretty quick and easy thumbs up ;)
 
I got lucky with my wife's ring. It was an old world diamond passed down through the family. My mother gave it to me to give to my fiancée, so I never had to pick one out! We just had to get it resized after I gave it to her.

Sounds like your father-in-law gave you a pretty quick and easy thumbs up ;)
Well, that’s pretty special! Yes, ha, a very easy thumbs-up.
 
What a romantic story! And all that planning and even asking permission?

Good plan, win over family members, before asking.

Wonder what my parents would have said, had the guy asked them first?

All this reminds me nothing like any of that ever happened.

I got asked once, and said "No". I had enough sense to avoid the 18 year age difference. On account of that warning my mother gave me....

I"m married, yet nobody asked.
 
P.S. I wanted to mention I don't do alot of traveling, but managed to get to Hawaii a few times.

Its very disconcerting there, so many people suddenly Drop To Their Knee, right there in broad daylight.
 
What a romantic story! And all that planning and even asking permission?

Good plan, win over family members, before asking.

Wonder what my parents would have said, had the guy asked them first?

All this reminds me nothing like any of that ever happened.

I got asked once, and said "No". I had enough sense to avoid the 18 year age difference. On account of that warning my mother gave me....

I"m married, yet nobody asked.

Haha and thank you!
 
Another haha. You’re on a roll today.

Not allowed, I'm supposed to get something done today, tax related!

But I'd rather recall the following-

The Inherited Jewelry Collection- that includes my mothers, my mother in laws, mine, etc. Any number of jewels need repairs.

Including the inherited wedding ring with giant rock, a small stone has gone missing.

Three years ago, and when I could somehow still walk four blocks,I went into the local jewelry store and inquired about: Jewelry Repairs.

The woman gave me an odd look. Yes, of course they do jewelry repairs and I don't seem to be a person wearing any..

(somehow this was very funny, because yes, I never wear the jewelry, just this one borrowed wedding ring). (I possess three borrowed wedding rings)
 
I just love a great romance, and I'm glad you haven't run out of good stories yet. This was a good one. Thanks for letting us in on your engagement.

I've never been to Germany, actually nowhere near Europe. But I did get engaged in a faraway land called Boston in Boston Commons. I was living there at the time (Andover, and I lived in Falmouth too). It's one of my favorite cities.
 
I just love a great romance, and I'm glad you haven't run out of good stories yet. This was a good one. Thanks for letting us in on your engagement.

I've never been to Germany, actually nowhere near Europe. But I did get engaged in a faraway land called Boston in Boston Commons. I was living there at the time (Andover, and I lived in Falmouth too). It's one of my favorite cities.

Thank you, Christian. Oh, and Boston is indeed a very fine city. (I grew up in Burlington and now live in Norfolk, MA.)
 

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Cloudyskies
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