Part Twelve: Boy proposes to girl

The date: May 26, 2001. The place: Jacksonville, FL…

It was Memorial Day weekend, and we were in Florida for my brother’s wedding that Saturday. Yet I knew that there was at least one more thing planned…

The wedding was Saturday afternoon. Sometime earlier, I had let my brother in on the big secret: that I was planning to propose to my sweetie that night after the wedding. He already had a room booked at the wedding site—a bed-and-breakfastish sort of place—for the whole weekend, and since he and his wife were leaving for their honeymoon hours after the wedding, he offered me the room for The Occasion, a cozy romantic getaway right on the shores of the St. John’s River. Perfect.

It turns out that my brother didn’t (couldn’t?) keep this little secret from everyone—or anyone, it seemed. All day long before and after the wedding, people were coming up to me and whispering their congratulations. “We heard what you’ve got planned for tonight—good luck!” I mean, heck, even the minister pulled me aside to offer his congratulations and pastoral advice. It seemed that everyone there knew what was going on. Everyone except for my sweetie. When my brother tossed the garter, I (of course) ended up with it (but then again, there was only one other single guy out there, and I think my brother kind of steered it my way… :-) When the bride tossed her bouquet… well, my sweetie didn’t end up with it (though she confessed to my sweetie later on that she’d been trying to toss it her way). But I think someone said something to someone else, for a little later on, the bouquet catcher came up to my sweetie and presented her with it, saying “I think this was meant for you” with a smile on her face. (Like I said, everyone knew.)

So now it’s Saturday night, the wedding long since over. I’m standing by myself, looking out over the river, my hand in my pants pocket fumbling constantly with the velvet box hidden there. I hear her come up behind me, and I take her in my arms, the two of us looking silently across the water. And I ask her if she’s enjoying this. And then I ask her if she thinks she could do this for the rest of her life. And then I turn her around. The ring. The question. The answer—yes. And the tears start to flow.

It’s been almost a year since that night, and she still hasn’t changed her mind. Or her answer. :-)

The whole story: [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12]

Part Eleven: Boy and girl go to NYC (Epilogue)

The date: July 15-19, 2000. The place: New York City…

The trip home was a little more exciting than we had anticipated.

It started with the cab ride back to Penn Station to catch our train back to Boston. All week long, we had somehow managed to avoid the legendary New York City traffic—we walked or took the subway for the most part, and the couple of times we cabbed it, things just sailed along. So, of course, our cab comes to a dead stop on our way to the station, and we’re getting close to missing our train. (Naively, we left the hotel later than we should have.) A few blocks from Penn Station, we decide to get out of the cab and walk/run the rest of the way. Which we do, finally making it… not more than two minutes after our train leaves the station. CRAP. Left with no other choices, we get tickets for the next train to Boston, leaving a couple of hours later.

So we’re sitting in Penn Station, reading the paper and a couple of magazines, munching on overpriced fast food. Now keep in mind that we’re sitting just outside the boarding area for the trains, and we’re paying really close attention to the boards and announcements, waiting for our new train. And yet we somehow manage to almost miss our second train, making it on board with less than five minutes to spare. Don’t ask me how this happened—to this day, we still don’t know how we [almost] screwed up [again]—but one minute we’re waiting for the train, the next we’re hauling ass down the platform trying not to miss it. But we did make it, and we did get back to Boston intact.

Well, mostly. As a cherry on top of this return trip sundae, I managed to leave a poster I had bought at the American Museum of Natural History on board the train. Of course, I didn’t realize this until the next day, and numerous calls to the station and Amtrak during the week turned up empty.

Ah well, just one more memory of an already memorable trip. And I wouldn’t have changed a thing.

The whole story: [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12]

Part Ten: Boy and girl go to NYC (Part 4)

The date: July 15-19, 2000. The place: New York City…

What a wonderful day it turned out to be. My favorite day of the whole trip.

We went downtown again, this time visiting the majestic twin towers of the World Trade Center. Zooming up the express elevator to the observation deck, a wall of windows overlooking the entire city. Taking the escalator up to the roof, standing 102 floors above life below as the wind whipped through our hair. Pictures, pictures, and more pictures. But that wasn’t the best part of the day.

Dinner was at 8:00 at Mesa Grill, one of the homes to Food Network’s Bobby Flay. After arriving fashionably late for our reservation, we sat at the bar with umpteen other waiting diners. She’s perched on a stool with a glass of bottled water, I’m standing in front of her with a glass of wine. My hand on her knee, our eyes never leaving each other as we cooed the way only people in love can. The maitre d’ breaks our reverie to announce that our table is ready—as luck (fate?) would have it, a primo (and much quieter) seat on the balcony overlooking the main floor below. Another bottle of water for her, another glass of wine for me, both—we found this out later—comped to us by the aforementioned headwaiter. (Maybe he does this more often than we think, I don’t know, but it was just one more piece of a delightful evening to us. Regardless, he was a charming man, and I thanked him after dinner as we chatted by the front door. He, of course, thought nothing of his gesture. But I did find out from him that Mr. Flay was coincidentally in Boston that week, and we were down from Boston to visit; otherwise, he would have arranged an introduction. Figures.)

As we’re sitting around for after-dessert coffee, I ask the waiter, uncharacteristacally for me, for decaf, which leads him to remark, off-the-cuff, “Don’t want to keep you up all night?” To which my sweetie cheekily responds, “No, that’s my job!” The waiter, momentarily stunned, stops in his tracks, then catches on and literally gives her a big thumbs-up. Priceless. But still not the best part of the day.

No, the best part of the day started in the cab ride to dinner. She slid into the seat before me, and I perched my hand on her leg as I climbed in after her. But it wasn’t the silky feel of her dress that got my attention, it was what I felt underneath her dress, just out of sight. A little bump… a soft ridge running down her thigh… oh god, she’s wearing garters. My reaction was something incomprehensible, yet completely impossible to misunderstand, and it caught her off guard in the best possible way. You see, I have always had the biggest thing for garters and stockings. Always. But she didn’t know that, and she had no idea I’d react that way. And it is impossible to describe the absolute look of joy on her face when it all happened.

But that was only part of it.

Fast forward to the cab ride back to the hotel after dinner. Again she climbs in before me, and again I slip in after her. But this time, her dress rides up ever so slightly as she slides across the seat, and what was once out of sight peeks momentarily into view. The lace top of her stockings, the narrow black band of a garter belt before they both disappear again beneath her dress. And it floors me, and by the tone of the… how to describe it? a growl?… yes, the growl in my voice, she knows it. And though it seems impossible, she’s even happier than before.

And that was the best part of the day.

The whole story: [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12]

Part Nine: Boy and girl go to NYC (Part 3)

The date: July 15-19, 2000. The place: New York City…

The next day’s destination: Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. We got up early in the morning to try to catch one of the early ferries to the island. Given our natural propensity to lounge around in bed, we ended up catching one of the later morning ferries. :-)

Walking around the island and in and out of the statue reminded me of the field trips we all took back in elementary school to museums and such. But I have to admit, I didn’t care much for all of that as a kid. This time, my interest in history having grown by leaps and bounds since then, I simply couldn’t get enough. My sweetie and I both remarked how wonderful it was to be able to share this kind of experience with each other. We weren’t there because of any feeling of having to be there, but rather of wanting to be there. We weren’t the kids crying “Is it time to go home yet?”, but rather the ones roaming around in wide-eyed reverence wondering “What else is there for us to see?” We were being tourists in the best sense of the word, and it was almost a shame when we had to catch one of the late ferries back to the mainland.

Of course, literally as soon as we set foot off the ramp back at the ferry dock, we had to run the gauntlet of vendors hawking their wares—watches, jewelery, briefcases, etc. Living their bit of the American dream, I guess. However, neither of us felt the urge to stop and ask any questions… besides, we had a date that night.

A full day of being tourists later, we went back to the hotel and got ready for dinner. We cabbed it to Times Square, settling in at Carmine’s, a family style Italian restaurant just off of Broadway. The food was fabulous, the portions enormous, the company absolutely delightful. After dinner, we decided to walk around the Square for a bit. Now I’d seen plenty of pictures of Times Square before and had watched enough Dick Clark New Year’s Eve specials to get an idea of what it would be like, but I was still completely unprepared for the lights and sounds. Again trying not to sound trite, it was just exciting, pure and simple. And then it started to rain—not too hard, but enough to get your attention. The ones who had them pulled out their umbrellas, the ones who didn’t immediately started scurrying about looking for cover. But us? We didn’t do a damn thing—we just grabbed each other’s hand a little more tightly, swung our arms a little more freely, and strolled through the rain without a care in the world, me in a dress shirt and slacks, her in a knee-length black sheath dress and heels, two kids completely overdressed for the way we were behaving. I’d almost forgotten how good it could feel not to grow up, but with her in my arms and The City around us, it was impossible at that moment to feel old.

The whole story: [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12]

Part Eight: Boy and girl go to NYC (Part 2)

The date: July 15-19, 2000. The place: New York City…

We meandered east towards Central Park, first stopping at the American Museum of Natural History for a few hours before wandering into the park itself. And that’s what we did—wander, looking for nothing in particular but failing miserably, as we found all kinds of things to amuse us…

While sitting on a bench beneath a sprawling tree, our eyes followed a father and child coming down the sidewalk, dad pushing the little one along in a stroller. We smiled and said hello, waving to the child. The father leaned down and cooed, “Say hi [to us]!”. And the little’un promptly turned directly away from us towards no one in particular, waved (again to no one in particular), and cheerfully exclaimed, “Bye!”. Dad sort of smiled and shrugged at us, but we were already laughing ourselves silly at this incredibly cute exchange. Just one of those moments.

Later, we stumbled across a throng of people gathered around some sort of display, music blaring from yet-to-be-seen speakers. Working our way through the crowd, we found ourselves watching a dance demonstration by a group of roller skaters. My sweetie, being a huge fan of both roller skating and dance, immediately became a child and gleefully asked if we could stay for awhile. Looking at her face, beaming from ear to ear, how could I say no? So we watched. I stood behind her, my arms wrapped around her as we both bopped and swayed to tune after tune. I’d find myself glancing occasionally at her to find her staring wonderously at the festivities—and then she’d glance over at me, still smiling, her eyes still aglow, before turning her attention back to the fun. And before we knew it, we had been there well over an hour being entertained by this troupe and each other. Again, a completely unplanned diversion and another one of those moments.

The whole story: [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12]