I love super romantic engagement stories. I tear up every time I see an engagement on TV, even if it's not overly thoughtful or romantic. Like most women, I guess I'm just a sucker for love. So that's why I wanted to share my own engagement story. Get ready to be disappointed by your own stories - if they don't involve pedophilia, dirt, the f-word, and Kentucky, you ain't got nothin' on us.
At the end of my senior year of college, Husband (then Boyfriend) and I were exclusively dating, but neither of us were overly convinced of the long-term sustainability of our relationship. I had recently been awarded a Fulbright scholarship and would be leaving in early September to spend a year in Germany. Our initial reaction was to end the relationship, since we were sure we'd never last (or want to last) a year away from each other.
Husband still had another year of college left (although he is older than me, he didn't join ROTC until his Sophomore year, so he had to do a fifth year of college in order to meet all of the ROTC requirements to commission on time with his graduation), and the summer before the last year of ROTC is full of Army-training-goodness. Because of this, we would only have about three weeks in August to actually spend with each other before I left for Germany. So we basically decided to spend the last couple weeks of May together, to enjoy each others' company while we could.
Of course, those fateful weeks made us realize we actually did, in fact, like each other, we both had the same goals in life, and we turned out to be surprisingly compatible.
In early June, Husband left for the Army's Leader Development and Assessment Course (LDAC) in Ft. Lewis, WA (it's basically a giant test of everything they're supposed to learn in ROTC - then they're ranked on their performance, and this ranking helps the Army assign them to their branches, decide which jobs they should have, and determine their first duty station after graduation/commissioning). Because he wasn't allowed to use phones or the internet, I wrote him letters almost every day (how old fashioned and romantic!). As soon as he finished the LDAC course, he was flown to Ft. Campbell, KY to do a Cadet Troop Leader Training course (CTLT) with an aviation unit there.
He called from the airport in Kentucky and told me, since he was staying in a hotel for the entire CTLT course, I could come and spend the three weeks there with him. Like a young person in love (and without a job), I jumped in the car an hour later and drove 13.5 hours straight, from South Dakota to Ft. Campbell.
Over the course of the LDAC letters, we'd basically decided we wanted to get married. It really only seemed logical. Kentucky would be a test to see if we were sure. We talked about marriage, divorce, children, religion, etc, and discovered we shared almost all of the same ideologies and philosophies, and, let's face it, we could tolerate each other better than any of the other people we'd dated. Isn't that the ultimate test of marriage-compatibility? We can spend exponentially more time in a small room together before wanting to bash each other's heads in than with anyone else we'd ever met. True love at it's finest.
So we went ring shopping. We picked out a ring together, he ordered it, and they said they'd call when it was in. Then we went about our daily CTLT lives - Husband went to work every morning, I wasted time until he was finished for the day, and we spent the evenings going out for dinner and hanging out with the other cadets doing CTLT at Ft. Campbell.
One day toward the end of the course, Husband suggested we go to the nearby town to stop by the mall, get some dinner, and maybe go see a movie. He picked a teppanyaki-style restaurant (where they cook the food on the big griddle in front of you at your table), and we got relatively dressed up.
I have to admit, I suspected something. I knew he'd bought the ring and was waiting for it to be delivered to the store, and I had a pretty good idea that he was going to ask me to marry him while we were still in Kentucky. What better place than a super-romantic, fancy dinner? I'd always loved the idea of being proposed to in a restaurant, with all the other customers looking on and clapping for us as I wiped tears out of my eyes and happily said, "yes, of course I'll marry you!!" Sort of like a miniature version of our 15 minutes of fame. The restaurant would probably even give us a free dessert so we could feed bites to each other and solidify the public image of our undying love for each other.
The waitress who came to take our drink order asked if we were there for a special occasion. I glanced nervously at Husband, who also seemed exceptionally anxious. "No, just here for dinner," he told her. He was obviously trying to build up the suspense - waiting for the perfect moment to get down on one knee and ask me to make him the happiest man in the world.
We ordered our food, and the chef prepared it. I'd never been at one of those types of restaurants before, but I was almost too nervous to really enjoy the show the chef was putting on. I could almost feel the ring burning in Husband's pocket. Waiting for its big debut.
We ate our food and finished our drinks. Still nothing from Husband. Okay, he must be waiting till we're about to leave.
The waitress came by with the check and Husband paid.
Wait, what? Why are we leaving? What about my fancy-restaurant, romantic proposal? All these people are just sitting here, waiting to clap and be excited for us! They all want to look at us and exclaim about what an adorable, young, clearly-in-love couple we are! Their dinners will end so anticlimactically!! WHAT ARE YOU DOING, HUSBAND?!
We walked out into the parking lot, and Husband suggested we start to walk toward the movie theater in the mall, even though we had about an hour and a half to waste until our movie started. I was starting to feel stupid for having expected a proposal. He was probably wondering why I was acting so strange and nervous. But I couldn't shake the feeling that he was acting strangely, too.
The mall parking lot was in some state of being re-done. The current stage seemed to be "torn up, covered in dirt, and not tended to in over a year." As we started the trek across the dirt-covered, cracked cement lot, the sun finished setting, and the street lights came on, illuminating the mostly-vacant, kind of creepy area on the backside of the mall. I could feel myself getting more and more agitated and irritated with Husband. I felt so stupid; I'd been convinced he was going to ask me at the restaurant. What a disappointment. How could I have so completely misread the situation?
As we walked along, Husband noticed a group of scantily-clad teenage girls walking in front of us across the dirt lot.
"Don't look at those girls," I told him, letting the irritation take over.
"But look at what they're wearing. Pretty hot."
"They're like 14 years old! That's disgusting."
"Mmm, underage girls... that's the best."
I knew he was joking, but I was so emotionally strung out after the last hour and a half of bitter disappointment, I just let the frustration take over.
"Seriously, if you're going to act like that, I'm not even going to walk with you," I said as I walked faster to get away from him.
"Aww, come on, Laura, I'm sorry. Come back here and hold my hand."
"No, I'm serious. I'm not in the mood. Walk by yourself, or go ask those children to walk with you, if you're so interested in them," and I stomped further away from him.
"Please, Laura? What could I do to get you to come back and hold my hand?"
"Nothing. I'm done."
"Nothing? Not even this?"
I turned around to see him, down on one knee, in the dirt and weeds of the torn up cement parking lot, holding up a little ring box and smiling at me from ear to ear.
"Are you f---ing kidding me?"
Yes, that's right. That is word-for-word what I said in response to my proposal. The epitome of romance.
I walked back to him, and he actually asked me to marry him. I, evidently, said yes. It wasn't how I ever imagined it would be, but I honestly couldn't fathom my proposal being any different than it was. At the very least, it was a microcosm of our relationship. No matter how much Husband can piss me off, he can always make me laugh again. That was almost six years ago, and I still haven't tried to bash his head in.
(It should also be noted that, while reading over this before I publish it, I teared up. Guess it is kind of romantic in its own, weird way. I love you, Husband!)