“Oh, I have something to tell you,” my boyfriend started, as he added a few last minute things to the pasta dish he was making for us.
There’s nothing like having your significant other basically say “we need to talk” to instantly make you start sweating. I immediately looked up from the snarky tweet I was going to send and glanced at my boyfriend. We had been dating for two-ish years, but a statement like that still makes my blood run cold.
“When Ron and Megan visit for her birthday, he’s going to propose.”
My thoughts froze. My gaze had fallen on my boyfriend, who was adding an absurd amount of garlic to some rolls and avoiding eye contact. His friend Ron had been in the same fraternity as him in college. They had lived together multiple times (which basically meant that I had lived with him as well). Over the years, I had gotten pretty close with his long-term girlfriend, Megan, and we all made sure to touch base a few times a year. They had been planning to come visit for her birthday weekend, which was in a few weeks. But apparently, more than just binge-drinking and eating late-night pizza was going down.
“Oh. Wow,” I squeaked out. Still trying to find my thoughts.
My boyfriend glanced up as he placed a plate in front of me and smirked.
“I told him you would be jealous.”
If I didn’t know what to think before, I definitely didn’t know now. Was I jealous? Should I be jealous? What does that mean? Are we in a position where I can be jealous? For the love of God, what does this mean?
“What? Why would I be jealous?” I asked, stuffing a large forkful of noodles into my mouth in what I’m sure was highly unattractive.
“You’re not jealous?” He responded, glancing at me incredulously.
“No, of course not,” I muttered back, realizing that my response felt like a lie.
Phase 1: Jealousy
Why isn’t your boyfriend proposing? When will your time come? Will your time ever come? Does anyone actually love you? Is it because you keep up with the Kardashians? Sure, this couple has been together longer and are at a more stable place in their lives but still, why. not. you?!?!
“Oh. Well. Yeah. Ron wants us to help him and like, figure out how he should do it,” he finished lamely, digging into his bowl of carbs and getting ready to wrap up the topic.
I stared into my own bowl in a trance. Help plan? Never in my life did I think I would have to help plan an engagement. Someone else’s engagement. How should he do it? At dinner? On a hike? Would they sleep on our shitty air mattress after? Would they bang on our shitty air mattress after? I blankly swirled a noodle around as visions of engagements videos I’d seen online flashed before my eyes.
“Hey. You okay?” My boyfriend asked, looked at me over the top of his garlic bread.
“Yeah, it’s just. A lot of pressure. It needs to be perfect,” I stated, realizing that boys are helpless.
“What? Really?” He asked, his eyes going wide.
“Yes. It’s the day a girl dreams of…” I trailed off, a feeling of panic nestling in my heart.
Phase 2: Stress
What if it’s not perfect? What if he doesn’t get down on one knee? What if my boyfriend panics seeing his friend get engaged and promptly dumps me? What if she says no? What if he gets cold feet? WHAT IF NO ONE WILL EVER LOVE YOU ENOUGH TO PROPOSE?!
“He should do it at the park,” my boyfriend concluded, obviously wanting to be done with the conversation.
“The park?” I asked incredulously. “The park?! Are you joking? Your joking right?”
The look on the poor guy’s face was enough to assure me that he was not, in fact, kidding.
“Well shit. I’m going to suck at this,” he muttered, putting down his fork and hunching his shoulders.
I know I should have felt awful. I just made the guy who I hope to marry feel bad about his random proposal idea. On the contrary, I felt great. The topic of proposals had come up between us. This is what any girl in a relationship hopes for. The opportunity to tell your boyfriend exactly what you want without seeming like a psycho.
“No no no. It’s just that, we need to make sure it’s really special. You know?” I soothed, trying to mend any damage that I could have caused.
He smiled at me, and we got to planning. After lots of Googling, some secret messages to his friend via Snapchat (we couldn’t do it via text in case his girlfriend did a casual glance at his phone), we knew what we were doing. Sort of.
Phase 3: Plan/Prep
What time do places close? When’s sunset? Do they take reservations? DOES IT FACE THE WEST? What kind of champagne? If the amount of details you have doesn’t make your head completely spin, then you haven’t planned it enough.
After $100 in decorations, some plotting, and some groundwork, we were ready. They were here in our apartment and after a night of drinking and eating pizza (dreams do come true), the day had come. We pretended that we had to take a car in to get work done, and off they went to the picture-perfect place. It seemed fool-proof. We would hide in the bushes, they would be walking along, he would propose, I would snap the perfect pictures, and they would live happily ever after.
We arrived at the location before them, just as planned. As we set out to find the perfect spot for him to get down on one knee, it dawned on me just how many other people were there. And how hard it would be to hide in the limited shrubbery. And how impossible it would be to go unnoticed. Just as the panic set in, my boyfriend turned towards me,
“That’s definitely Megan,” he sputtered. “We need to go,” he said pulled me into the bushes that smelled strongly of weed.
Phase 4: Action
Is the lens cap off? Does he look like he’s getting cold feet? Are you in the right place and in a good position? After weeks of plotting, dreaming, and waiting, it’s finally happening.
I glance at the face of my friend as the love of her life pulls her over. In the hustle and anxiety of the moment, things don’t go to plan. She sees us. He drops down to his knee. I can’t get the shot. The seconds tick by as the blood rushes in ears. I glance at my boyfriend in panic, and he looks back at my, wide-eyed and frantic.
“Go,” he mouths.
I hustle through the leaves to try to get the pictures. Stay down, stay down, I think to myself. Unfortunately for me, I was too late. In the panic that she would (and did) see us, I didn’t get a shot of him on his knee. I snapped a hundred photos to try to make up for it. They’re beaming down at me, and I feel tears prick my eyes as I take a few last pictures. My boyfriend popped up beside me, handing them a bottle of champagne and some glasses.
“We’re going to walk down there,” he told them, then pulled me away.
While we gave them some time, we sat on the edge of a cliff and talked about life. Watching your friends get engaged is like a giant slap in the face that this is really happening. People are agreeing to spend the rest of their lives together. And holy shit, do you want that?
Phase 5: The Honest Look At Your Own Life
Can you get over the fact that he adds extra garlic to everything you cook? Can he accept that you freak out over things like a character leaving a TV show, or someone adding cilantro to your salad? And does he understand what you want in life, and in an engagement?
Before watching someone get engaged, I thought I knew what I wanted. But after? It made me realized how hard it is to plan the. Sure, you could have a fancy dinner at some romantic restaurant (gag) or maybe a proposal at Disney in front of the castle (never). But maybe the best way to do it is spontaneously, unexpectedly, and randomly? Or a flash mob. I’m still undecided.
Phase 6: Comparison
Will you want it in nature? You won’t, right? Will he give a speech, will get on his knee, will he do exactly what you always dreamed of? Probably not. But what he’ll do will be even better. It’ll be real.
As we all got drunkity-drunk-drunk and talked about the planning we did, the future wedding, and all of the wonderful things to come, I kept seeing the happiness in my friends’ eyes. They smiled at each other and kissed over disgusting well drinks. We giddily told every bouncer that she just got engaged and received free vodka and looks of envy. We laughed about how our plan failed and cheered at how great it went.
The next day, as she recounted the story to her friends and parents, we got to hear the first of a lifetime of times when she tells her story. In the moment, it was scary and exciting and upsetting when things didn’t go quite right. But as she retold it, the utter pleasure oozed out of her voice and it made us all realize that the most important thing isn’t the location, the perfect lighting, or the most fool-proof plan (sorry again for messing up). It’s that the perfect guy got on his knee, and made my dear friend happier than I’ve ever seen her.
Phase 7: Joy
Because at the end of it all, seeing two people promise to love each other forever is a damn beautiful thing.
Unless of course the girl getting engaged is some bitch I hate. In that case, I’ll still withhold my “like” and talk shit about her ring. Old habits, you know?.
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