Life happens: Once upon a time, a man proposed to a woman

By Aprill Brandon
Sept. 27, 2012 at 4:27 a.m.
Updated Sept. 30, 2012 at 4:30 a.m.

Behind every married couple is an engagement story. The story that they will be asked to tell and re-tell for the rest of their lives.

The story that is the opening chapter of a little tale called "Till Death (Or That Hottie From Work) Do Us Part."

The story that pretty much defines them as a couple as long as they don't go on some epic crime spree further on in their relationship.

(Does anyone know Bonnie and Clyde's engagement story? Point. Proven. Granted, they weren't ACTUALLY ever married but I think we can all agree the theory still holds.)

So naturally, you want your story to be a good one. And this pressure to make it a good story is only exacerbated by Hollywood. Think about it. Every single rom-com you have ever seen features a proposal that falls into one of the following categories.

  1. The over-the-top, probably on a rooftop, fireworks and violins, roses and mandolins (sorry ... not a whole lot rhymes with "violins") perfect proposal.

  2. The over-the-top probably on a rooftop perfect proposal that goes horribly awry but makes it all the more special because it does go horribly awry (including but not limited to a sudden downpour).

  3. The surprise engagement/argument engagement where the proposal comes out of nowhere but is preceded by such lovely words (albeit potentially said in a gruff voice) that you have no choice but to say yes (also usually involving rain).

  4. The non-proposal proposal in which a couple decides not to get married but just be together so they make quirky yet heartfelt vows to each other in some random location where it is raining and/or snowing.

  5. The post-break up proposal, which always involves a guy running 22 blocks in the (you guessed it) rain to get back to the love of his life, who he finds about to leave her house and stands there all out of breath and wet while wooing her back.

These are the things the modern day proposer is up against. But usually, no matter the circumstances, an engagement story, by its very nature of being a momentous occasion, is always a wonderful and emotional moment.

Except when it's not.

Which brings me to my engagement story. Now, keep in mind, the story I'm about to tell isn't even the worse proposal I've ever had. That distinct honor goes to a former boyfriend who tried to break up with me, then decided to get out of the uncomfortable break-up scene by proposing, which was followed soon after by an even more uncomfortable "No ... yeah ... we really should break up" reversal.

Best. Christmas Eve. Ever.

So, the bar was set pretty low for my now husband. And he managed to hit it.

It all started on a random fall afternoon that we had designated as our "anniversary" since both of us were too lazy to really care what date we actually first met, or first kissed, or first declared our love or blah, blah, blah.

We were attending the Texas Renaissance Festival (cause we are unapologetically nerd-tastic and love any place where it is acceptable to drink wine and eat turkey legs for breakfast) with some friends. It was the perfect opportunity. I had been antsy for quite some time for him to put a ring on it and he had been hinting for quite some time that he did indeed like it and intended to put a ring on it. Not to mention, he's always been a grand gesture kind of guy, so what better place to propose than in front of 30,000 nerds dressed in loin cloths and barely-there fairy costumes, all of whom had started drinking mead at 9 a.m.?

All day, I had felt a giddiness. I knew it was coming. I just knew it. So when it didn't come during the jousting tournament, I didn't sweat it. When it didn't come during the performance of the guy who is paid to insult you in Olde English, I, the rancid wench with the questionable virtue, shrugged it off. I wasn't even too bothered when I had to downplay an escaped squeal and turn it into a cough when my beloved bent down to tie his shoe by the Ye Olde Petting Zoo.

But as dusk descended, my mood, which was already being fueled mostly by Merlot and beer so heavy you had to chew it, started to darken. By the time we got home, it was a black pit of seething drunk girlfriend rage.

"Is everything OK, babe?" he asked, while smartly out of hitting range.


"You sure?"


"Because you seem mad."


"Like, really mad."

"Hmm ... I don't know. What could I, YOUR GIRLFRIEND, and only YOUR GIRLFRIEND, possibly be MAD about?"


...awkward pause...

"Do you want your anniversary gift?"


"OK ... ? Then I guess I'll go get it ... ?"

"It's a free country."

And that, kids, is how it happened. Just like in a fairy tale, he came downstairs, paused the episode of "Supernatural" that we were watching, got down on one knee and asked "Will you marry me?" while producing a beautiful ring from behind his back as I squealed and said "You better not be kidding because I will kill you."

But what you didn't see, and what I didn't learn until later, was that he had been making plans to propose for years before that actual moment. Each plan more elaborate and "awww ..." worthy than the next. He had schemed with co-workers and mutual friends. He had maps and lists of potential places and estimates of ticket prices to exotic locales.

What he, what we, didn't ever have was the money or the vacation time to do any of these things.

And just in case I don't look enough like a selfish, petty person, he actually WAS planning on proposing earlier that day. He had the ring on him the whole time. And when I asked him why he didn't, he replied:

"Because none of the moments seem perfect enough to propose to the love of my life."

So, when people ask me about my engagement story, I give them the story-behind-the-story, the story of a man who waits three years to propose because nothing seems special enough. And I wouldn't change our story for the world.

Well, I take that back. I do always change one little detail.

I tell everyone it was raining.

Aprill Brandon is a columnist for the Advocate. Her column runs every two weeks in the Your Life section. Comment on this story at



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