Last weekend, Kortney and I went to Madison to go to an Indian restaurant she had heard about from a lady at work. The weather was finally spring-like, and Madison is one of my favorite little cities, so I figured it would be the perfect place to pop the question. I was thinking about maybe doing it down by the lake, but I didn’t really have that part worked out. I just figured there were enough private beautiful open spaces that I’d find the right one when inspiration struck. The only thing I knew for sure was that I would play the harmonica part from “All I Want is You” (by Barry Louis Polisar, from the Juno soundtrack) because Kortney once told me that until I could play that harmonica part, she wouldn’t marry me. I also planned to sing, even knowing that hearing me sing could be a deal breaker.
The groundwork had been laid – I found the ring a few weeks earlier, having spent an entire night going from jewelry store to jewelry store looking at princess cut diamond rings with baguettes adorning the band, only to go out again the following day and actually purchase something completely different. I had also spent a good hour on the phone with her father on the prior Monday asking for her hand (because I roll old-fashioned like that), so I had the ring, I had the parents’ approval, I had practiced the harmonica… all I had left to do was to ask the question.
So we drove up to Madison, laughing and chatting and talking nonsense – our usual modus operandi. We found the Maharaja and had a delicious meal… although my own appetite was a little stunted because my mind was elsewhere as I fingered the harmonica and the ring box in my coat pocket throughout the meal.
After lunch, we went over to the nearby mall because Kortney wanted to look at some clothes for an upcoming business trip. (And I really needed a poo. Nerves + Indian food + too much Guinness the night before!) At the mall, we passed by a Zales jeweler – except we didn’t pass by, we went in. For the first time EVER, she decided she wanted to try on some rings! Panic! The sales lady was already busy with another couple, so I mentioned that maybe it would be better to go back some other time… we could continue shopping. We could head to State Street. We could leave now… but then the sales lady came over.
Kortney had already identified several rings that had piqued her interest, and the sales lady accomodated by removing these various rings from the glass case so she could try them on. Meanwhile, I stood by awkwardly and uncomfortably clutching the ring in my coat pocket, hoping that she wouldn’t fall in love with something completely different than I had already purchased. Most of the rings she was shown were completely different. Eep!
At long last she had finished trying on the rings and we left the store. I obviously didn’t hide my discomfort very well because on the way out she asked me if I was mad or upset that she tried on the rings, and I think she began to worry that perhaps she would never get a ring from me… little did she know…
We finally left the mall and got into the car to head over to State Street. We parked in the parking garage I use whenever I go to Madison, and as we were going down the stairs to the street, I took out my harmonica and absentmindedly – and prematurely – blew a note or two. I had intended to keep it in my pocket until we got somewhere more appropriate, but no – I blew it. Literally, and figuratively.
Kortney heard the harmonica and said, “You should play the harmonica as we walk down the street!” Okay… this could work… I could just play a few little tunes on the way over to State Street, or down to the lake, or…
But no. Since I had been practicing the damned tune all morning, it was right there in the front of my mind, and it was all I could think to play – so we were walking across a crappy, run down private parking lot behind an out-of-business restaurant, singing the song we had sung together so many times before, me playing the harmonica and her dancing around, and when we got to the part that goes:
All I want is you, will you be my bride?
Take me by the hand and stand by my side,
All I want is you, will you stay with me?
Hold me in your arms and sway me like a sea
I took her arm, got down on one knee, and held up the ring.
Her reaction was one of disbelief – she said, “Are you kidding me?” followed by “Holy…!” and “Oh my…!” and various other things I couldn’t quite make out because she was completely caught off guard, trying to make sense of it, crying…
She was a little confused because she took my uncomfortableness at Zales to mean I maybe didn’t want to get her a ring, and then she couldn’t quite make out how I bought a ring when she was there with me the whole time… so where did the ring come from?!
Finally I stood up and hugged her and laughed and said, “You know… It’s a ‘yes or no’ question!”
And she said, “Yes.”