It was February 15, 2002. Jamie and I were both working as fine-dining waiters at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. This means that we rarely had the night off. We both worked 9-14 days in a row and having the same night off together happened…like…almost never.
We had been seriously dating for 3.5 years. We talked a lot about our future but weren’t really in a rush to be married. However, one morning I told him that I loved him in that Goldie-Hawn-Kurt-Russel way meaning that I wanted to wake up every day and choose the beautiful, personal commitment of our relationship…but that I wouldn’t have kids or buy anything major like a house unless we were married.
So, we took my grandmothers diamond and had my rings custom designed. Once everything was set at the jewelry store Jamie told me, in no uncertain terms, that my participation in our engagement planning was over. He said he would plan everything from that moment on and that I must keep out of it.
Staying out of it was so, so hard!
I did overhear the answering machine message that the rings were ready to be picked up at the jeweler. I did a little shopping to find an outfit that I thought would be versatile enough…a black dress with black wedge heels…to get engaged in.
Fast forward a few weeks to the week of Valentine’s Day, 2002, when our work schedules were posted. I was scheduled the night off…but Jamie was scheduled to work. Now, for me to be a fine dining waiter and have the night off on Valentine’s Day is absolutely unheard of. We used to refer to Valentine’s day as amateur night because all the people who never dine out came out for those holidays. The relationship between their expectations was inversely proportional to table manners and how they tipped. Except one Valentine’s Day when I waited on a Backstreet Boy…I don’t know which one and referring to him as “the one with the hair” probably doesn’t help clarify. In any case it was amateur night and there I was “off” on Valentine’s Day and refusing to believe it.
“I’m either not really off or you’re not really working”, I joked with Jamie.
“Oh no, I’m working, it’s Valentine’s Day”, he assured me.
“Yeah, right”, I winked.
Lo and behold, come February 14, off he went to work! I stayed by the phone for a couple hours thinking it was still a hoax but he stayed at work all evening. Eventually, I climbed into sweatpants and watched TV for the rest of the night. I was so disappointed because I didn’t have another day off, nor did he, for several more days. I’m not sure I spoke to him at all when he got home from work!
The next day, he bounced of bed, declared he had “errands” and left the house bright and early wearing his typical uniform of khaki shorts and a white T-Shirt (because those came in a pack of 5 for $10). Knowing that was not in an outfit to propose in…or that it had better NOT be, I went about my day getting ready to go into work…until the early afternoon when he called on the phone.
“Be ready to go at 5:30”, he told me.
“Go where, I have to work remember?”, I retorted.
“No you don’t, I took care of it, just be ready at 5:30, that’s all”, he said, and hung up.
I dug out my new outfit and got ready. At 5:30 I went into the main house to talk to Jamie’s mom, Ann. She was in on his scheme but keeping quiet…until…
5:30 came and went
5:45 came…and went
6:00 and 6:15 came and went
Ann was pacing…and trying to remain calm…when all of a sudden…
“You try to plan something nice and the f@#$ing limmo driver screws it up!”, she hollered.
“Ohhhhh, so it’s a limmo???”, I sang.
“Damn”, she said.
A few minutes later a giant black limmo pulls into the driveway to pick me up. The driver was so apologetic to have been so late. No matter. He drove me to a fancy hotel where Jamie was waiting out front to take me to dinner.
Now, here is where I found out how Jamie spent his day…shopping! He was wearing new black slacks, black belt, sweater, sport coat, and dress shoes. He looked so handsome! It’s important to note that I had never seen him wear such clothes before unless he was working. One time he wore cargo pants to a 7:30 P.M. wedding! I told them that weddings scheduled after 7 P.M. are generally meant to be formal, black-tie affairs. I am pretty sure he told me he couldn’t give two sh!ts and that he’d wear whatever he likes. He may have said the bride and groom were lucky he picked a shirt with buttons and that he ironed it first.
Anyway, there he was all dressed up and looking sharp! He escorted me into the restaurant and over to our table (he had plenty of extra time to set everything up since the limmo was late). At my place setting there was a gold box of Godiva chocolates. Also, a bottle of Dom Perignon Champaigne was chilling…it was a gift from Jamie’s friends from work. The chocolates were particularly special because up to that point in our relationship, Jamie insisted there was no difference between Godiva and “the ones from Walmart”.
We ordered our food, three courses plus souffles for dessert. The first course came with three plates, each covered with cloches.
When the waiter lifted the cloche in front of me…here is the plate that was underneath:
I wish I could remember every single word that he said as he was asking me…but I can’t. I do, however, remember exactly what I was thinking the whole time he was speaking:
Oh my gosh how did he know to say that…yes I will marry you!…Oh wait, it’s not my turn yet…wow, I never thought he would remember when…yes I will be your wife!…oops, still not me yet… this is exactly the right thing to say…
I waited patiently for my turn to speak and immediately said Yes! And then we were engaged!
Throughout the remainder of our meal Jamie turned a variety of shades of green.
“What have you eaten today?”, I asked, knowing that when he was about to go out for a fancy dinner he didn’t eat all day beforehand so he could “get his money’s worth”…
“Nothing!”, he proclaimed, ” well, nothing for most of the day but then I was starving so I had a bean burrito.”
“But then I started to get nervous so I went to the hotel bar at the mall”, he continued, “and ordered a whiskey plus I ate all the spicy bar snacks in the bowl.”
At this point in our meal we are having our main course.
“Then”, he goes on, “I went to the Godiva Chocolate Store and I told the lady that ‘my girlfriend – future fiance – thinks these are the best chocolates and I’m not sure I believe her’ so she asked me if I like cognac” he explained.
“What did you do?”, I asked him.
“She handed me a cognac truffle from underneath the glass and it was so good! It was the best thing I’ve ever tasted!”
“See, I told you they were good!”
“So I bought five more while I was there.”
At this point in our fancy dinner he’s getting sweaty.
“You are telling me that you’ve had a bean burrito, a whiskey, a bowl of crappy bar snacks and six Godiva chocolate truffles today?”
“Yeah, and I’m pretty sure the lobster bisque we had for appetizer isn’t agreeing with my stomach.”
I may have actually laughed out loud at that one. Ha! The lobster bisque!
At any rate, he excused himself from the table, I ate BOTH souffles for dessert while twirling my shiny new engagement ring.
And our adventures have continued ever since!