Monday, September 7, 2009

Boy Proposes to Girl: The Best Second First Date Ever

Recently, I was commiserating with a girlfriend as we wondered just how long the ring can sit in our boyfriends’ dressers before they finally ask the question (in her case: nine months; in my case: significantly less, but I’m impatient.)  Despite actively discussing marriage and weddings within our respective partnerships and having firm life-commitments, we both were still waiting to “officially” get on the same page.

J and I finally got on the same page a few weeks ago.  But for several months after I proposed to him, I was still waiting for his egalitarian counter-proposal.  I kept confirming weekend plans before making any arrangements for us - just in case he possibly had engagement plans - wondering “is is going to happen this week?"  When I looked at a summer of fully booked weekends, I finally emotionally let go, figured it wasn’t coming any time soon, and continued researching for our agreed-upon Spring 2011 wedding. 

Of course, that’s about when he finally asked.

It was a Friday afternoon, and I was in super-productive mode at work, when I realized J was in my office, asking me to leave early.  Now, I work in Santa Monica and he works in Burbank, so there was no excuse for him being at my office, except for a big occasion... most probably THAT occasion.  In the midst of my surprise and protestations that I had to finish work, he let me know that he had permission from my bosses for me to leave early (um, CLEARLY that occasion). Instead of pestering him with whowhatwhenwherewhy, I decided I wanted to be fully present in the experience and enjoy the evening, however it played out.

He first drove me up the coast to Topanga Canyon, where he had dinner reservations at Inn of the Seventh Ray, which is possibly the most romantic restaurant in all of Los Angeles – tucked away in a canyon just outside the main city, built over a creek, into the hillside, surrounded by trees and draped with white fabric and twinkle lights throughout.

The organic sustainable deliciousness doesn’t hurt either.  Le sigh.  We walked around to explore the grounds, lost in romantic hand holding thoughts, but no, he never dropped to one knee.  I kept checking my food for a ring, but nada. I was confused, until he announced that we were ready to leave for our next stop in the evening's adventure.  So he drove me into the Valley (odd, I thought - what adventure stop could possibly be in the Valley?  He used to live there, so maybe he had a hidden gem up his sleeve?) and then he drove us out of the Valley again (??!!) via Laurel Canyon and down Fairfax Blvd until he parked in front of...


Canter’s delicatessen.  That’s right, the famous, ever-so-not-romantic 24-hour Jewish Deli.  Also known as the place where we first met in person three years ago, after electronically "meeting" online the week before.  On our first date, we met in front of Canter's and (wisely) decided to eat down the block at a more first-date appropriate Mediterranean garden restaurant (which sadly, went out of business).  On our proposal date, we finally dined at Canter's with delicious gooey melty chocolate cake and decaf coffee.  Since he clearly wasn't dropping to one knee in a deli if it wasn't right for a first date, I wasn't surprised when he packed me back into the car as we headed to…

Largo at the Coronet.

Our first date may have started out at Canters, but it went so well that we ended up at Largo – an intimate local music venue that attracts world class acts in a small dinner-bar setting.  Three years later, Largo has moved locations to a larger theater, and he took me to a Jon Brion show (we frequently attend these shows, which are a local institution, complete with Brion's live looping/mixing and surprise guest stars like Fiona Apple or Crowded House), where J had reserved front row seats.  (Um, there are NO reserved seats at Largo, so there was definite behind-the-scenes wrangling here.)  I sat through the performance, terrified that there was going to be some public proposal or song, but calmed by the fact that Jon Brion is an artist who probably wouldn’t stoop to participate in fans’ proposals.  (Turns out I was right, and J had indeed written a song, asked Brion to perform it, and had been rejected.  Whew.)

By the time the show ended at midnight, I was confused in my continued ringlessness (because that was a mighty elaborate non-proposal date, right?)   The adventure was done and it had been great, but we were heading home.  (As J now says, my confusion was all part of the plan.  He knew I’d get suspicious when he showed up at work, so his only possibility of surprise was to confuse me with the process. It was a job well done.)  Up until the moment he asked me to wait outside our door for his okay to enter our apartment, I was really wondering.  And even though I finally knew that yes - tonight was the night - I still fell apart when I walked in to see a large beribboned sign and flowers:


And then I walked into the next room of our apartment to see a second beribboned sign and flowers


And in the last room, he was waiting on one knee, underneath the last two signs


My answer?  A few wordless nods, before I managed to blurt out an “of course!” We then spent the next few hours immersed in our private joy, sharing words and moments that still make me glow with perfect happiness.

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