If I’m being honest and believe it or not, some of us men still are, I am going to screw up so much in my marriage. I am a man. I am a very sensitive man, but a man nonetheless. With the responsibility of choosing tee shirts and gym shorts that in no way, shape, or form match comes the inevitability of creating more messes than masterpieces, even in the midst of sensitivity. But alas, I did do one thing right: I proposed in a way she will always remember. I will forever have that victory.
Of course, it did not come without its hiccups. After checking my then girlfriend’s email on my work computer (her request, I swear), I forgot to log out. When she eventually went to Google and saw the words “Road Trip Themed Proposals” pop up, question marks arose. It wasn’t like I could play that one off. We were about to go to a bar called Yardhouse that night and the search under that read “how much is a beer at Yardhouse in Greenville, South Carolina?” Great! My plan was already dying, it was confirmed just how cheap I am, and my acting skills are couple and far between. I’d say few, but I’d be giving myself too much credit.
I followed that disaster up with a drunken permission request from her parents. Let me be clear—I wasn’t drunk. I hadn’t had a sip of alcohol. I just fumbled around my words as if I was. Like every man who truly has feelings for his woman, I was nervous and had a complete out-of- body experience. That, and I was a little heartbroken they had turned down my original request to cook for them and instead paid for a night out for us. I mean, is my cooking that atrocious?
Still, with all the epic blunders evolved an even more epic proposal, and I’m happy to be able to tell that story today.
Here’s the thing about Michelle and me: we travel … a lot. Don’t tell my 401K savings this, but we do it on his dime; for now and while we’re young. We went to 26 states in our first year of dating.
We saw the majesty of the Grand Canyon, the boldness of the Colorado Rockies, the grandness of the Big Apple, and the pride of our Nation’s Capital. Still, with all the incredibleness we’ve witnessed with our two eyes, we’ve always said that what is in front of us—each other—is so much more to gawk at.
Something happened at our New York City stop. There was a Lego sign and Lego just so happens to be my last name. Naturally, we took a picture under it. It seemed only right to do so. When the photo was captured, I was on to the next attraction while Michelle lingered right there for the rest of the day.
“What’s the matter?” I asked repeatedly.
Silence each time.
She had fun that day, but something was wrong. I grew up with three sisters. I, for the most part, know women. It is a blessing and a curse all the same. That’s when I realized she thought I was going to propose.
She should have known better, but I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt on it. The truth is I am all about spontaneity. Proposing in New York City may be cool, but it is not original. That dang Lego sign, though. I could definitely see where she was coming from with her jumping to a conclusion. She didn’t know it then, but I had already planned to propose in New York (kind of), except in a much more unique and Ray-like way … a way we could both be happy with. Afterwards, because of that misconstrued moment, I was able to figure out the finishing touches of a lasting memory for us.
For the next three months, I used every ounce of my heart and every pound of my prowess. The plan? Recreate our eleven favorite locations, ending with the New York City proposal she thought she was going to get. I made state signs and monuments, bridges and cherry blossom trees. I pieced together the Grand Canyon and wondered how God made a much larger version in a lot less time. I cut out cactuses, bought an Obama mask (that I’d eventually use for a lovely speech in Washington, D.C.), put together a DJ mix that related to every spot within, gathered around our families and friends, and purchased any and all necessary attire. Michelle was about to be bombarded by a lip dub proposal, and even though I was aware of her shyness and how she doesn’t like for the limelight to be on her, I was confident she was going to love it. Plus, it is good for everyone to break out of their shell from time to time.
So how did I pull the surprise off? Well, fortunately for me, my family is constantly hosting weird theme parties. On Christmas last year we had “A Night at the Grammys,” where we rolled out the red carpet, interviewed “stars,” and lip sync’d the night away. What does that have to do with Christmas, you ask? Absolutely nothing, but it boded well for my proposal plans.
I asked for Michelle’s hand in marriage on July 2, 2016. I told her we were having a theme party at my sister’s called “Remembering the Sparks and Fireworks” in light of Independence Day.
“We will all be dressing our best and remembering what brought us together as couples,” I told her, and boy did she buy it!
The significance of this is that I kept in mind something very important for a lady. I made sure she was dressed for a proposal, knowing pictures would be taken following my popped question. Men, if you’re reading this and planning on proposing, you may want to jot that tidbit down.
We made our way through Charlotte, Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis, Kansas, Colorado, the Grand Canyon, Panama City, Philadelphia, and D.C., until we finally ended our tour in the city that never sleeps, hoping our love and life together never would either.
The Brooklyn Bridge was displayed to her left in front of a newspaper covered wall and a Subway logo. The cityscape was lit up in front of us and the New York Giants designs around the door were a nice touch. There were stop lights, stop signs, and a road path.
There was our old friend, the Lego sign, Times Square, and the New Year’s Day ball. There was so much magnificence in front of us, but all I could focus on was remembering my cues and making sure my final lines were right …and, of course, my beautiful bride-to-be.
My sister directed Michelle to the taxi seat (some call it a decorated couch) where a video of our adventures played with our song in the background. At the end, I recited a poem about those moments, with the very last lines being…
We’ve done much in our time, and I’d like to do more.
So long as you’re mine, as long as I’m yours.
Adventures forever, ‘til I’m old and they bury me.
But the greatest I’ll know, is the one where you marry me.
The crowd collectively shouted out a ten-second countdown while the ball my mother wonderfully crafted drifted down from the ceiling. I walked to it and stuck my hand in to get the ring. I made my way to my darling with an eerily familiar feeling of anxiety, got on one knee, and said …
“It took me twenty-eight years to find my soulmate, and one to know it’s true, but forever and eternally I’ll always have the chance to love on you. Michelle Elizabeth Kettler, honey, will you marry me?”
She gladly said yes and our closest ones erupted. You could hear the excitement from everyone, but trust me when I say you could feel it that much more. Finally, after nearly thirty years of waiting for my soulmate, I placed a circle of eternity on her finger and I could not have been more ecstatic.
The big day is May 13, 2017. The decorations from the proposal sit in the storage closet of our apartment. We get excited any time we think about showing it all to our grandkids one day. No one has to be extravagant with their proposal. In fact, most women likely prefer something more intimate than the one I delivered. But if I know one thing it is that Michelle wants me to be myself at all times, and I made sure that was the case with this significant occasion. I implemented humor and romanticism, brought up her best friend from Orlando, Florida, and used my time and effort to give her something she would adore. Why? Because I love her…and because I wanted to show her a preview of what I will be like as a husband always in pursuit of her love.
You can check the proposal out for yourself at RayLegoJr.com.
You can make it larger by hitting the Facebook logo to the bottom right of the video. I hope you enjoy watching it as much as I enjoyed making it (except the video editing … that part was awful)!
Until next time, be Good Men.