|Excuse the length of this story, as it
was mainly typed for posterity’s sake. Lord knows we’ll all forget the
details in the future. I’ll call this my "Microsoft Word
Memory" of the event. Warning: If you didn’t make it through Scott’s
First Annual New Years’ Update Letter, you haven’t got a prayer with
Loosely transcribed from an AOL Instant Messenger
chat between Scott Dannemiller and Miranda Walker, Gabby Kubo’s pal.
I need your help with something."
problem! What is it?"
Scott: "Can you
keep a secret?"
Scott: "I mean…
can you keep a secret, better than you kept it when I told you about Gabby’s
‘anniversary’ gift last month when you told her… ‘You’re getting
a surprise, and I know what it is!
problem! Lips are zipped!"
Scott: "That’s right Walker… no
blabby-blabby to Gabby. Capiche?!"
Miranda: "Not a
Scott: "OK then…
I need your help picking out a ring for Gabby."
this a "oh… isn’t that a sweet Christmas present" ring or an
"OH MY GOD" ring.
Scott: An "OH
MY GOD" ring."
Miranda: "OH MY
GOD!!!!!!!! I think I’m going to cry!"
cry… I need you to remain focused. No going wacko like the chick who
gets axed in the first 15 minutes of a horror flick."
Miranda: "No I’m
fine. I’m just SOOOO EXCITED!"
This is going to be fun!"
know. You are by FAR the best, handsomest, cutest, most talented,
charming, intelligent, caring, generous, sensitive (yet manly) guy she has
ever dated! Much better than all those other losers, including George
Clooney and Brad Pitt! George couldn’t dance, and Brad had funny shaped
toes. What a lucky girl she is! We should ALL be so lucky!"
OK… so that last line is how I remember it. Maybe
Miranda would have a different story, but mine is the one to believe.
That’s right. I had fallen head-over-heels and it
was time to take the plunge. The only problem? I wanted it to be a
surprise. What this means is that I was going to trust myself to pick out
the ring Gabby will be wearing for the rest of her life, or until she
hocks it at age 50 when my business idea to bring back twist beads, jelly
shoes, and leg warmers falls short of success. Therefore, Miranda was my
necessary (and willing) accomplice.
The one thing I had going for me was that Gabby can
be a bit clueless to things at times. Often preoccupied with remembering
everyones’ birthday, anniversary, and lost tooth, …looking for ways to
help friends, and striving for world peace, she tends to think of anything
but herself. Therefore, when presented with an obvious ploy to find out
what kind of diamond she likes, she would dismiss it as "weird"
and go about her business.
So, the plan was set. I went out and bought a
"Weddings" magazine, and met Miranda for lunch. We looked
through rings together, then devised a plan to "stash the magazine
out in the open" at her house. When Gabby came over, she would see
the magazine. Simple and foolproof.
To a woman, a wedding magazine is like a chocolate
éclair to a Richard Simmons’ ‘Deal-A"Meal’ program dropout.
They can’t resist. So… the magazine was placed… Gabby was invited
over for a ‘Girls Night’ consisting of Ally McBeal and a good
discussion of ‘Which Ben Do You Think Is Hotter – Ben Affleck or Ben
Bratt?’ Miranda worked her magic. By the end of their "Girls
Night", I had some solid ring preferences. To make a long story even
longer… I ended up having the ring made on a business trip to
California, since nothing local seemed to fit the bill, and I thought
Gabby would like the idea that a slightly artsy/effeminite Spaniard named
Victor crafted her ring by hand. ("Eet weel be
beee-yooooo-teee-foooool. No thing but dah-ee-mond.
As an aside… it took me two months to make this
decision, so Miranda’s task of keeping her trap shut until the big day
became overly taxing. I gave her permission to tell one friend. I think
this little "relief valve" may have been the only thing to keep
her from spontaneously combusting.
Now… there are numerous ways for a guy to
Option #1: Lean over
during a "Matlock rerun" commercial break and say, "So…
you wanna’ do this or not?"
Verdict? Too abrupt…
plus… the afterglow tears might cause me to miss the thrilling
conclusion of episode 79, "Andy Griffith-like Lawyer Solves Big
Mystery, Then Has Dinner at Luby’s".
Option #2: Get down
on one knee at nice restaurant after she fishes ring out of chocolate
Verdict? I have bad
knees due to arthritis and could potentially forget the "secret ring
placement," and ingest it instead. Bad idea.
Option #3: Cook up
an elaborate engagement scheme which is soooo complicated, not even
McGyver could pull it off without an emergency trip to Home Depot.
Verdict? Sounds like
my kinda’ plan.
So… I cooked up several ideas involving renting
out movie theaters, performing at open mike night’s in town, planning a
huge karaoke outing, and painting overpasses. All of these were bounced
off of Miranda for the thumbs-up or thumbs-down. She would then elicit
feedback from Gabby in a stealthy way. We come to find out that Gabby isn’t
into public proposals, nor would she appreciate her name painted alongside
a gang tag which reads… "Don’t $#!% With The West Side
So… after much thought (whilst seated at my
computer not working), I concocted a plan. The description of Valentines’
Day 2002 is a detailed account (is there any other type of account?).
Valentine’s Day 2002 (The Way It Was Supposed To
Prior to "the big day", I began sending
"Rebus Valentines" to Gabby. They were all pretty cheesy, and
looked like this:
Can you figure it out? "Ewe R Two Sweet Four
Words" I know… it takes some time. Anyhow… she received about a
zillion of these goofy e-cards which annoyed her to no end, I’m sure.
The whole plan was to prep her brain for the elaborate "Scavenger
Hunt O’ Love" that she would be participating in on Valenine’s
Day. While having beers with the guys during the downtown Austin Mardis
Gras celebration, I described my plan to them as this:
- Send her tulips at work. The card would read,
"Go home to find your first gift clue, which tells where to meet
me at 6:00!"
- She comes home to a trail of rose petals leading
from her front door to the bedroom. On the bed, is a new Valentine’s
outfit and a Rebus clue, telling her to meet me at our "First
Date Restaurant" That is… if she can figure out the clue.
Otherwise, I’m waiting patiently at the restaurant at 6:00, and she
thinks the clue was to meet me at a Bar Mitzvah in San Antonio or
- She arrives at the restaurant. I am waiting for
her at the same table we first ate at, with a bottle of the same wine
we had that night for dinner. At the end of the meal, the waitress
brings Clue #2, another rebus puzzle, telling her to drive us both to
"Our Coffee Shop" for dessert.
- At the coffee shop, when we’re paying, the
cashier says, "You must be Gabby! I have something for you!"
and hands her rebus Clue # 3. This clue tells her to drive us to the
photo booth at Chuy’s restaurant where we had out first "photo
booth" picture taken. Cute… I know. We go to Chuy’s.
- In the photo booth, we take a couple of
pictures. There she finds Clue #4. This tells her to drive us to the
location of our first kiss, which is a hotel in Austin. (Get your
minds out of the gutter people! I was in town for a friends’
wedding, and after the wedding, she dropped me off at the hotel.
- At the hotel, the front desk receptionist has a
package waiting for Gabby. It’s clue #5, along with my guitar. We go
to a romantically lit spot in the hotel lobby and I sing her a song I
wrote for her. She gets all weepy and falls in love with me all over
again (at least that’s the plan). Clue #5 is another rebus which
reads "Lakeway Inn." This is her clue that we’re staying
at the resort on Lake Travis. We drive there.
- When we arrive at the hotel, we go into the
room. Inside the room, the fire is lit, champagne is chilling, and
chocolate-dipped strawberries are ready for eating. On the sofa are
the four final clues (to be shown later in this novel.) I propose. She
says yes. All is well.
The perfect plan, right?
Valentine’s Day 2002 (The Actual Story)
I’m not much for organization, and tend to be a
little sketchy on details (note my remembrance of the IM conversation with
Miranda earlier). When I get excited about things, I tend to overlook
important details and focus on the not-so-important ones. This is not a
strength when planning an elaborate proposal. So… for example… I
thought of this great plan in my head, and spent LOADS of time thinking
about how to create the rebus puzzles, and how cool they would look when
printed out all in color and bound in a nice 3-ring binder. (Yes… I AM a
corporate trainer). I also spent a lot of time telling some of my friends
about the plan, and throwing Gabby off the trail (planting seeds to make
her think she was getting a locket for Valentine’s Day – she hates
lockets). I also spent lots of time patting myself on the back and telling
myself how very cool I was, and how Gabby wouldn’t be able to resist my
charms. Nothing like arrogance to put you in your place. All good things,
mind you. However, what I failed to do was…
- Allow plenty of time to have the ring made
- Make reservations at our "first
- Make sure that "Our Coffee Shop" would
be open at night.
- Memorize the song I wrote for her.
- Remember that Gabby is not a history buff (makes
- Correctly remember the location of our
So… the way the day REALLY went was like this.
- Valentine’s Day is the busiest day of the year
for florists. Most tackle the day like Mr. Rogers’ Speedy Delivery
on crack. They load up the van with arrangements at about 4:00 am,
then finish their last delivery at 7:00pm. In between, the flowers are
gently banged and sloshed about in maddening Austin traffic, while
being lovingly cared for with dry re-circulated van heat and a side
order of Aerosmith playing on the van radio. Translation: I call Gabby
at 2:30 and ask, "So… did you get something from me
today?" She replies, "No… but I guess it won’t be a
surprise now." Surprise ruined. Strike one for Scott. The flowers
finally get there at 4:30, sending my wife-to-be into a slight panic
as she now knows she has to get home, get freshened up, solve a clue,
and meet me somewhere at 6:00. STRESS!
Clue #1: "Meat Me At Photo
- Like the florist, Valentine’s Day was a busy
day for me, too. I knew I was gonna’ have to drive all over creation
to plant all these "clues". So, as soon as Gabby left for
work that day, I went to her house to set up. I had "Our
Song" repeating in the CD player. My plan was also to have a
totally new outfit for her. I bought the top in California, and was
looking for a new black skirt or new pair of black pants to match (I’m
sooo fashion-conscious). Well… one day when looking through Gabby’s
closet, I noticed that she already owns nothing short of 15 pairs of
black pants, and 4 black skirts (another detail that had escaped me
before). So… scratch that idea. The solution? Lay ½ of a new outfit
on her bed along with the black skirt she likes best (I am smart
enough to know that the one SCOTT likes best would be too trashy for
this occasion. In fact… it’s in her closet, but I’ve NEVER seen
her wear it)
Next… I lay out the rose petals trail in hopes that they won’t
wilt between 9am and 5pm. I did a small "Bill Nye The Science
Guy" experiment at my house and left out a couple of sample
petals for 14 hours. The red petals held up well. The white petals
looked a bit like dried apple slices after that time. My only concern
was that Gabby might arrive home from work hungry and start "snackin’
on my petal trail." She’s into all things organic, but I
thought it was a risk worth taking. Setup complete… almost!
Before leaving to plant the clue at the coffee shop, I realized that
she might want a snapshot of this before the petals wilted. So… I
frantically ran to the Wag-A-Bag up the street (I’ve boycotted
Texaco… another story) and picked up film. The mad dash back to
Gabby’s house yielded a few photos that are OK. Nevertheless, the
moment has been captured for posterity’s sake, and I’m now
dangerously late for a work appointment at 9:30am. Still… there’s
time to get to the coffee chop to make my drop before work must begin.
(Yes… I DO have a job – a very flexible one).
- I arrive at the coffee shop, nearly sweating.
Once inside, I debate whether or not I should just stash the next clue
in between some books at the back of the shop, or leave it with the
cashier. My criteria was, if the cashier was a big burly guy who would
laugh in my face and call me a weenie for being so cheesy – I leave
it in the books. If the cashier is a) sweet old lady, b) cute girl, or
c) old man – I leave it with them. They’d think I was
"sweet" or something.
So… I go to the cashier. It’s a zit-faced 17-year old with
bed-head. Hmmmm… hadn’t anticipated this one. What to do? I go for
Scott: "Hey, I’m sending my girlfriend, Gabby, on a scavenger
hunt of sorts tonight. Would it be OK if I left this behind the
counter for her?
Screech: "Dude… what time?"
Scott: "I dunno. Probably 8:00 or so."
Screech: "Dude. You can bring her here, but we won’t be open.
We close at 6:00."
So… foiled yet again. This was not the first time I had been duped
in my plan. If you’ll remember, I had hoped to take Gabby to
"our first restaurant" and sit at "our first
table" and drink "our first wine". Well… I went to
the restaurant a week before to make reservations. There, I was told
that they were totally booked, and I could either eat dinner at
10:00pm (resulting in Gabby being in a state of 100% drooling sleep by
the time the actual proposal rolled around), or be placed on a
hopeless waiting list, already 17 names deep. So… I got to exercise
my Plans B and C skills.
Plans changed, and I had Gabby meet me at Chuy’s (which happens to
be her favorite restaurant, but not romantic IN THE LEAST!) So…
thumbs up on the food, thumbs down on coziness. I wound up waiting in
that photo booth for Gabby, right next to a family party of 7. The dad
was ultra-pissed because his 6-year-old daughter had just plunged her
fist right into a bowl of salsa, and wiped it off on her "pretty
new Valentine dress!" At least the reds matched.
While some males would see this as a terrifying vision of their future
(replacing that vision of them driving the Porsche down a winding
mountain road with a babe on-arm), I stood fast. No running scared
like a 3rd grade girl for me! I’m committed!
Luckily, Gabby arrived on cue, we took our photo booth snapshot and
had a wonderful dinner and conversation.
She looked REALLY HOT
in the new blouse I bought her (wait… Gabby’s mom might ready
this). She looked absolutely stunning in her new outfit. At
the end of the dinner, our waitress brought us the bill, and Gabby’s
next clue (the one that said we should go to our coffee shop). She
solved the clue without much trouble. Once she figured it out, I had
to break the news to her that it was closed. HOWEVER, in my
stealthiness, after my work meeting, I tracked down another coffee
shop and planted the clue. Off we go!
Clue #2: "Our Coffee Shop"
- The visit to our new coffee shop was rather
uneventful. The only problem was that the girl who I had left the clue
with was nowhere to be found. So, when paying for our dessert, I asked
the cashier if she happened to have a package behind the counter for a
Gabby Kubo. She looked at me with a wondering eye and said "I don’t
think so, but let me check." She then looks behind the counter
and finds the envelope. She handed it to me as if I was MAGIC! (How
did THAT get back here?!) So, I told her that she might also find cats
sleeping in her car engine, as well as a roll of quarters in her dirty
laundry basket. Probably kept her brain busy most of the night.
Clue #3: "Our First Kiss."
Gabby opened up the next clue (Our First Kiss) and solved it
instantly. Then she says to me:
Gabby: (With a REALLY disgusted look on her face) "So we’re
going to Polyester’s?" - Polyesters is a semi-seedy 70’s and
80’s themed dance club where we went after the wedding where we met.
Scott: "No… why would we go to Polyester’s?"
Gabby: "Because that’s where you first kissed me."
Scott: "No it wasn’t"
Gabby: " Yes it was."
It seems that my "liquid confidence" the night of our friend
Jason’s wedding (Damn that open bar!) gave me the courage to plant a
lip-lock on her whilst groovin’ on the dance floor. I must have been
too wrapped up in my Soul Train routine to remember. Talk about a
bone-headed move! Just call me Mr. Romance!
Scott: "Oh… is that so. Well… let’s go where we had our
second kiss instead."
Gabby: "The hotel?"
Scott: "That’s right."
At this point, Gabby’s wondering what’s going on. Now… I don’t
think she believes a proposal is on the way, ‘cuz both of us are a
bit manic about the gift-giving during any holiday. But, she may be
questioning my choice of "next stop." The hotel that we’re
traveling to next isn’t exactly the nicest place in town. If the
thrilling conclusion to this "Valentine’s surprise" is a
night of traffic noise and free HBO, she’s not too excited. Still,
she humors me and we make our way to the hotel.
- Once at the hotel, I ask her to go to the front
desk and ask if they have anything for Gabby Kubo. This time, the girl
at the front desk is on the ball. She hands Gabby her next clue, and I
grab the guitar from behind the desk. She figures out the clue without
much trouble. The next order of business is to sing her the song.
When I try to lead us to the quiet corner of the lobby (which was
empty that afternoon), I find some non-english speaking staff who are
cleaning while watching NBC’s Olympic coverage at 150 decibels. I
decide that this isn’t the environment for belting out my new love
song to Gabby. Time for plan D. Must find new location! Gabby suggests
going out by the pool, and I follow. It’s south Texas, and it’s 60
degrees, so this is actually a good plan.
Once out by the pool, Gabby opens the guitar case and finds the words
to the song I’ve written. My original plan was to give her the
lyrics later as a gift. The problem was that I didn’t memorize the
song too well, so I needed the pages as a "cheat sheet." She
didn’t seem to mind. So I sang her the song. Once I finished, she
gave me a big hug and a kiss. It was very sweet. A perfect moment…
that is… until a breeze blew the "cheat sheets" into the
pool and I nearly knocked Gabby into the kiddie pool trying to chase
them down. So much for keeping them in pristine condition! Luckily, I
was able to fish them out before too much damage was done.
Before leaving for the Lakeway Inn, I stealthily called "The
Inn" from the hotel bathroom and told them to have the fire going
in our room by the time we arrived. Pretty sneaky, eh?
Clue #4: "Lakeway Inn"
- When I told some of my coworkers that I was
taking Gabby to a nice, romantic hotel room to propose, their response
"Boy… you’re pretty optimistic then, eh?"
As we drove up to our bungalow (I had already checked in earlier in
the day to plant a few things in the room), I couldn’t help but
wonder what I would do if she said "NO." My plan E in this
case was simple. Cry. Call a cab. Send Gabby home. Call my friends and
invite them to the lake. Drink the entire bottle of champagne in 5
minutes. Eat myself sick on chocolate-dipped strawberries, and wait
for my pals to arrive with a 12-pack of "fixer-elixir." I
genuinely hoped it wouldn’t come to this. I took a deep breath…
talked myself up (I’m good enough, smart enough, and gosh-darn it…
people like me!) and escorted her into the room.
The fire was crackling (as much as one of those particle board
firelogs can crackle), the curtains were drawn showing a view of the
lake, and my last four clues were tucked away in envelopes on the
couch. It was the perfect setup. However, I noticed that the champagne
and strawberries hadn’t made it to the room. I called the front desk
and asked them to deliver them immediately. The fiancee-to-be had
other plans. While I was on the phone, Gabby, thinking a night at
Lakeway Inn was her final gift, began pulling presents out of a bag.
She said, "Now it’s your turn!"
Nine gifts are spread across a large, round coffee table. Each gift is
wrapped in silver paper and has various numbers of hearts drawn on it.
My job, as dutiful gift-opener, is to pull pieces of paper out of a
small bag. Each piece of paper has a number of hearts written on
it. Next, I unwrap the gift with the corresponding number
of hearts on it. (I TOLD you we were manic about the whole gift-giving
thing). Unlike a five-year-old at Christmas who sees gifts under the
tree and gets all excited, I instead am thinking, "Holy crap! I
have to suffer through opening 9 gifts while agonizing over what my
final proposal will sound like!?" Gabby had no clue how tortured
I was. Later she would say to me, "NOW I know why you opened
those presents so fast! Heck! You would open one, glance at it, say
‘That’s nice’, and move on to the next one. Instead of opening
gifts it looked like you were preparing to go to the dentist!"
After opening all nine gifts (including my three favorites – a
miniature mirror ball to accompany my karaoke machine… a Jesus of
Nazareth Action Figure with poseable arms and gliding action… and a
Hooters’ Gift Certificate – I SWEAR I LOVE Their WINGS!) it was
time to talk turkey. Gabby and I sat down on the couch, and I took the
four envelopes into my hand. Each of the four was labeled with a
different word. When placed in a line, the envelopes
read "WHY I LOVE YOU." I told her, "I’m really good
at writing down how I feel about you, but you rarely get to hear me
really SAY it! So… in each envelope is a picture that symbolizes a
reason why love you. When we open an envelope, I’ll tell you what
the picture inside means."
We open the first envelope. Inside is a picture of
I said, "I love you because you let me be
myself. I can be me around you, and you don’t judge me blah blah blah
romantic stuff, etc.
Then we open the second envelope. Inside is this
Now Gabby is no history buff. She immediately
thinks this is a picture of Ben Franklin and wonders, "How in the
hell is he gonna’ symbolize our love with Ben Franklin!"
rest of us know this gentlemen as William Shakespeare. So I correct Gabby
and say, "Shakespeare was a great writer with great inspiration. I
have been wanting to write a song for a long time, and you were MY
inspiration… blah blah blah romantic stuff, etc."
We open the third envelope to find another pic. I
say, "I chose this picture because I love how we can be spiritual
together blah blah blah romantic stuff, etc."
The last picture is Dolly the cloned sheep. I tell
her, "This is Dolly the cloned sheep, and I picked her because I love
how we are SOOOO alike in SOOO many ways blah blah blah romantic stuff,
Now for the clincher! I tell her to close her eyes. She obliges, and I fix
the four pictures to a huge piece of foam core posterboard. It’s her
final rebus puzzle. Can you figure it out?
That’s right, "WILL EWE MARY ME!"
She figured it out pretty quickly. So… with Gabby both laughing and
crying, I got down on one knee and popped the question. She said yes
before she even saw the ring, so I know she’s a keeper! I was THRILLED,
and I think she was, too.
After that, we chilled out, had some champagne,
downed some strawberries, and talked about the future. For me, it was the
perfect night, and worth every last ounce of effort – especially cuz she
said YES! Special thanks to Miranda for all her help. She’s one heck of
a gal. Couldn’t have pulled off the surprise without her. I’d also
like to thank all the boys for giving me hell for the week preceding the
big day. Never before has the trash-talk via e-mail flown so freely.
We’re both really excited about spending the rest
of our lives together, even if it does mean that we’ll have to really
rack our brains to come up with good gifts by the time we’re 84 or so.
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