The morning of December 2nd, 2013 was a cool, overcast day in New York - our last in that city. I had deliberately postponed our visit to the Top of the Rock observation deck in NYC for one very important reason: my close friend Jesse was to fly in from Medford, Oregon overnight and meet me at the top of the skyscraper, to secretly slip me a ring and photograph the moment I proposed to my then-girlfriend of four years, Hayley.
Upon arriving, we headed straight up to the top floor, where Jesse was to meet me. Having seen him in disguise, I escorted Hayley straight to the highest deck and led her to the binoculars. Fearful of her noticing Jesse, I gave her a handful of quarters and told her to “see if you can look into one of the offices of the Empire State building”. It was a futile instruction, and one she couldn’t do, but it achieved its goal: she spent precious seconds looking through as Jesse quickly stepped forward and pushed the ring into my hand. All was in place.
Now, key to the execution of my proposal plan was not just the immense logistical effort of getting a ring I had not seen in the hands of a man who had never visited the East Coast of the USA up to the top of a skyscraper in rush hour in one of the world’s busiest cities. I had also, through the year, joked of the fact that, when I proposed, it would be very intricately planned. More specifically, Hayley and I had a running gag that a French waiter would bring out the ring, before it vanished somehow and we went on a car ride, during which she would do the YMCA out the window and the ring would land on her finger. I had carefully ensured that in the week prior, Hayley had actually danced the YMCA at a YMCA in New York, and we had taken a cab to the Rockefeller Centre. I then joked to her that, since we’d done that, she should put her hands in the air and see if a ring fell onto them. Of course, one didn’t - and Hayley assumed I had merely been kidding. She didn’t see me removing the ring box from my pocket.
I still had to somehow involve a French waiter and a ring falling from a plane. The ring had been delivered, quite literally, from a plane that morning, so I had that covered. The last step had been for me to decorate a ring box with a tuxedo design that I’d cut from another box - thereby forming my own little waiter to carry the ring. I flashed the box to Jesse, Hayley completely unaware of what was happening right behind her.
Having seen that a ring had not fallen onto her hand, I explained to her that it couldn’t have worked just like that - because then there’d have been no waiter in the process. “A waiter,” I told her as I drew out the box, “like this one.”
I got down on one knee, my heart pounding in my chest. Many times before we’d joked about getting married, or even had done faux proposals to one another. This was the real deal. “Hayley, I love you. Will you marry me?” Though I’m sure the box was proof enough of my sincerity, I had to add - “I’m not joking.” That would do the trick.
Hayley’s face had turned from laughter about our running gag to pure shock at the realisation of what was happening. Was he really doing it? Reeling from the surprise, she replied…
Yes! Of course, the answer was never in doubt. We’d wanted this for such a long time. This was merely a more formal way of saying so!
We embraced atop New York City, sharing the happiest moment of our lives so far. Seventeen months ago I had stood at this place in New York and had dreamed of proposing here with my closest friends to watch me. In a very real sense, this was my dream proposal, and I enjoyed the moment for all it was worth.
I then showed Hayley her ring(s). Yes, there were more than one. On one of our first dates ever, I’d brought a packet of Burger Rings, joking that I would associate them with me in her mind so that if I ever proposed with one, it’d be romantic. She always disagreed with this notion, saying she wanted a real ring, and that it would be somewhat unromantic to propose with a Burger Ring, which I constantly taunted her about doing. But who’s to say I couldn’t propose with both?
Not only had I presented her with a ring, but I also had another gift for her: a diary containing six months’ worth of letters, in which I had detailed every nuance of the planning process I had wanted to share with her. At last she’d understand the stress, frustration and hilarity of the planning process.
Clutching her new and precious gifts, she posed for her first couple picture as my fianceé.
Now, it’s romantic enough to propose with one ring. That I proposed with two surely only adds to the romanticism of the proposal… right?
And yet, she could only wear one. Naturally, the ruby looked better on her. But what to do with the other ring?
I advised her that, were she to keep the second engagement ring, it’d become a nuisance as it had not only calorific but nostalgic value too. The solution was simple - and tasty. She ate her Burger Ring, and proudly displayed the ruby on her finger.
Having just pulled off a proposal six months in the making, involving the tying together of every running joke in our relationship, the successful execution of a huge surprise, the effort of getting someone atop a building in a city they’d never been to and having beautiful pictures to capture the moment as a result, I felt pretty happy. In fact, as I pointed out, if proposals were a competition, I probably just won it. Of course, as with any successful undertaking, I owe credit to those who helped me. My sincere and unending thanks to Jesse, for his enormous role in the plan; my friend Jon, for being so tireless in his efforts to help me pick the ring; my parents for their financial and moral support; and most of all, God, with whom all things are possible and who promised that all things would work together for our good. Clearly, they did. Praise the Lord, ‘cause we’re getting married!