We had met a year earlier in graduate school at the University of Missouri – Kansas City. She was a few years older than me, and her boss had pushed her to get her MBA. He said that if she was going to be single for the rest of her life, she should get her advanced degree. She didn’t get her MRS degree in undergrad, little did she know that she was about to get it the second time around.
It was going to be a surprise. I had gone ring shopping with one of my buddies, who would end up being my best man. Since she was 33, I knew that she would not be too happy if I went and asked her Daddy for his permission (even though that is what she still called him.) But, I learned that they were going to be away on vacation on the big night.
So when she was out of town for work, I called them up, and asked if I could stop by. When I arrived, her father immediately invited me in and offered me a beer. I told them of my plans, being careful not to ask permission, and asked if they would call her on that particular morning after, and ask her if anything was new. Her mother, of course, asked if I had gotten a ring, and I said yes. Then she suggested we go over to her daughter’s apartment and she could get an old ring out of her jewelry box (she would never miss it) so I could get it sized properly.
I purchased some special stationary from Hallmark (when you care enough to send the very best) and wrote an invitation for a special evening out. I enclosed an RSVP card, with a stamped self-addressed envelope for her to return her response to me. I even sprayed it with my cologne. Yes —this was before email and texting – I used the post office. To my surprise, she replied no, but could we do it another night. She already had plans that evening, she was leaving a job, and her going away party had already p been planned for that evening. That was not going to work since her parents had already left for their three-week vacation to Alaska. I responded and insisted—she ended up changing the date of her party. All that did was raise suspicion.
I made reservations for one of the best restaurants in town. The day of the event, I sent a dozen long stem red roses to her office. Now she was really suspicious. Little did I know that when she got home that evening from work and was getting ready—she checked her jewelry box, and noticed one of her rings was missing. Busted!
I picked her up, and we were all dressed up fancy. I had the ring in the box in my suit coat pocket. We enjoyed our meal and then went for a walk around the Country Club Plaza. Kansas City is known as the City of Fountains. We walked over to the famous Nichols Fountain. It had benches all around it. We sat down and were chatting. I asked her if she wanted to make a wish. She looked at me funny, and said sure. I reached in my pocket and gave her a quarter. We stood up, and while she was facing the fountain, I was nervously digging the ring out of my suit coat pocket. When she turned around—I got down on my knee, and asked her “Is this what you wished for?”
She said “Yes!”
The next day, her Mom and Daddy called and asked her what was new! Right on cue.
For Christmas that year, I gave her a large framed watercolor print of the Nichols Fountain – that the artist had signed, and wrote, “To James and Debbie – A Special Place”. It has hung in a prominent place in our home for 25 years.
Here is some advice guys – you do not need to spend a fortune to make the proposal a special event. Sometimes all it takes is the price of a stamp. Today – actually getting an invite in the mail would not only be shocking, but also very special.