Our second story comes from Mr. and Mrs. Riggs – Andrew had the honor of DJ’ing for the couple on July 25, 2014, check out the recap that Andrew wrote.
I’m a romantic at heart to be sure, but I admit that in practice I still have plenty of room for growth. Meg is not a difficult woman to please, and we also are raising two kids together, so we’ve become accustomed to romance in the form of simple pleasures with a little dirt on them. The story of our love, though, is truely romantic, and in proposing to Meg I wanted to make a memorable gesture.
After making the traditional request for her parents’ blessing and seeking my father’s counsel, I decided that my parents’ wedding anniversary, January 24 seemed like a meaningful date for my proposal. The date already was a significant one for Meg and me and our own relationship. My parents were my greatest teachers with regard to what marriage means and what it takes to make it last. My mother had died just 10 months earlier, and dad and I agreed as his first anniversary without her approached that it would be a good thing to bring a renewed energy to that date on the calendar, to have something else to celebrate.
With a date in mind, and ring hidden away in a drawer, I got the ball rolling on plans for the event that I wanted to make out of the proposal. Our first sparks flew at an audition for a play called “The Fifth of July” at Ephrata Performing Arts Center (EPAC). I first laid eyes on Meg while looking over some sides of dialogue for the auditiion while sitting a row in front of her in the theater. That’s where I first felt the butterfiles in my stomach. Our relationship took it’s first steps as we both ended up being cast and working on that production together. That was 9 years ago now, and the story of our love has been greatly shaped by working together in the that particular theater, so I decided to stage my proposal in the very rows of seats where I first saw her.
A side note about the ring: I work with youth in the city of Lancaster, and shortly after I got it, I shared the news with a few different people that I was planning to propose including one of my Junkyard Drumming classes, a particularly sassy and spunky group of 4th and 5th grade Lancaster city girls. I had taken a picture of the ring with my phone and sent it in a text message to my father, and so I once showed it to the girls at Burrowes Elementary School. The first time I showed it to them as a group, they squealed and cooed and generally went nuts, which was particularly funny to me since I was more accustomed to seeing head-wagging and finger-snapping from them. But I guess there is just something about romance for little girls, and so the picture and the little stories I’d tell them made them giddy. In fact, 2 or 3 times a week I was asked by squealing and cooing elementary school girls to show the picture of the ring and tell a little bit about our romance. I felt a little like Elvis must have at times.
My friends at EPAC helped me procure the space to clear the theater of any rehearsals or distractions, to make sure everything would be just right. The day came and I woke up with some nerves and an extra sense of purpose. I drove out to the theater on my lunch break and lined the rows of the theater with candles. In true EPAC form, the Master Carpenter on staff offered at the last minute to put up a vintage street lamp and hang a red curtain for extra flair.
Everything was coming off perfectly.
Until it wasn’t.
Hours before the anticipated moment, I received a frantic voicemail from my friend Ed, the Artistic Director of the theater. He told me that at the last minute, the director of the upcoming cabaret simply needed the space all night due to scheduling conflicts or something of the like, and that I was possibly going to have to cancel plans. The date was perfect, I had set everything up perfectly, and now it was going to have to wait. It took me 35 years to build up to this moment, so the momentum coming to a screeching halt left quite a lump in my throat. I called Ed back and begged him to do something, ANYTHING to let me follow through with these plans that were so long in the making. He told me he’d have to call me back so that he could try to work some magic.
Since I was a little boy I’ve always day-dreamed about how I might propose to my future wife, and now at this moment hours before the real thing, I might be getting news that my plans were foiled. They’ d have to wait months if I wanted to propose in the theater where Meg and I met.
As I was waiting to find out the fate of my plans, I had to go to Burrowes Elementary School and teach that class of sassy girls. I was very distracted, and I admitted it fully. I like showing kids my more vulnerable, human side sometimes so that they remember their teachers are human beings. I told them that if my phone rang in the middle of class, I was going to have to answer it because my engagement plans were being threatened.
You should have seen the circle of support and city-girl attitude that surrounded me at that moment. Several of them offered to escort Meg and I into the theater and force them to give us our moment. One girl wanted to beat up the director of the upcoming show. I told them thank you, but that wouldn’t be necessary. It was adorable, though.
Finally I got the call. Everything was fine. I could still propose that day in the manner and place I’d intended. The only thing left was the element of surprise.
The subject of us getting married had been gaining momentum in recent months, and not only between us. Family and friends were starting to ask increasingly when we were going to make things official, and it all just really sounded like a classic romantic comedy scenario. Meg and I had been in agreement that we wanted to get married, but that we wanted to do it on our own schedule. But I think Meg in particular was feeling mounting pressure combined with increasing feelings of “let’s just do it already.” I didn’t want to just “do it to do it,” though, and I wanted the proposal to be unexpected and romantic, so even after I had made the decision and bought the ring, I played dumb for a month to avoid suspicion. In her mind, I think we weren’t getting engaged or married any time soon. Real romantic.
As I said earlier, January 24th is a special day in our relationship, an anniversary of sorts. I told Meg I had a surprise for her that day, but I told her not to expect much. I downplayed it a lot, keeping her expectations on the level of just having dinner and drinks at a new restaurant, not flying to Paris. But I told her I did want it to be a surprise, so I asked if I could blindfold her and take her there. She seemed to think the idea was romantic and agreed.
One thing I hadn’t thought completely through was what it might feel like to Meg to sit with a blindfold on in the car for about 45 minutes in all, or what it would look like to the general public that I had a blindfolded woman in my passenger seat. It first hit me when I stopped for gas quickly. What were all these people going to think if they noticed the lady with the blindfold? I started nervously checking my rearview mirrors for cops after that, all the way to the theater.
Meg was a real trooper keeping her blindfold all that way. I kept worrying at different steps that she’d figure out where she was. She’d made that drive hundreds of times before, after all. If she didn’t recognize the feeling of the car going around the J-shaped exit ramp from the highway, she’d surely recognize the feeling of all the turns driving into the park where the theater is, right? Well, if she didn’t recognize anything from the car, she’d surely recognize once she was indoors the familiar smell of a theater in which she’d worked for years! She didn’t really catch on, though! This was the biggest surprise I’d ever pulled off and I couldn’t have asked for a better subject.
I’d already lit the candles while she waited for a moment, so as I led her in the theater, I played on my phone a song that has been incredibly meaningful in our relationship. I led her to the row where she was sitting when I first laid eyes on her. I sat her down, removed her blindfold, and we were both overcome with emotion as she realized what was happening. As I began to say a few words to her, it all just felt so right. Tears of joy rolled down my cheeks because I knew I was doing a good thing. And she said yes!