Sunday, January 18, 2009 was an ordinary day for most. My family was in town for the inauguration and to celebrate the birthdays of my brother and father. Everyone, including my girlfriend, Crystal, believed we were having a family dinner for their birthdays, but with careful planning by my parents and me, we had bigger plans for the day.
I instructed everyone to arrive early because I had a big surprise for my dad. I told them I was going to "shower" him with a large wad of cash. The plan was as follows: as he walked across the threshold, everyone with cash in hand would throw it in the air above him. Those with cameras were to take as many pictures as they could before all of the cash hit the ground. Crystal was blessed with a "super dee duper" camera for Christmas that has a rapid shutter, so this was to be an interesting mission for her. As she was taking pictures, I planned to take a knee and propose her.
Well, with every story comes drama and suspense. Everything was going as planned except for one thing, Crystal was late! I called her several times trying not to sound nervous and frustrated, but to no avail, as soon as she answered, my first words come out very stern, "Where are you!" She has everything else on her agenda except for arriving on time - clothes, shoes, birthday cards, etc. It felt like she was torturing me. Being the (un)timely woman she is, she arrives 2 and a half hours late!
Nevertheless, I proceed with the rest of my preparations. My mother and I organized the staged cash and the video camera, and then I called Crystal to the back to set up her camera. Everything was almost in place. I called the rest of the family to the final destination, set my dad on the patio and took my final breath before show time. Everyone was ready and understood their role. At this point, I summoned my father from the patio. "Surprise!" everyone yelled. Cameras flashed, the video was rolling and Crystal's camera went to work. Nervously, I removed the velvet box from my pocket and dropped to one knee. It took everyone a moment to recognize what was going on, and then one by one I began to hear grasps and screams.
Crystal was hard at work with her newly acquired craft. I tugged once on the belt loop of her jeans, no response. I tried again, but this time I could tell she was ignoring me purposely. The camera consumed her. By this time, the screaming became unusual and she finally unglued herself from her camera to see what the commotion was. Once I knew I could finally get her attention, I tugged once more. You would have thought she had seen a ghost, but I can only imagine what she felt when she saw me physically committing my life to her. With tears in her eyes, she tried to hug me, but I wasn't finished publicly declaring my love for her.
My cousin hushed the crowd and the spotlight was on me. So I began, "I had to wait for the right time, but I have been ready for this for much longer than you think, trust me. And we've had an awesome life together! But now it is time to close this chapter and open a new chapter. With that being said, Will you marry me?" "Yes," she whispered. I slipped on the perfectly fitting ring and we embraced.
As we're squeezing each other, I feel a pinch between us and her "OCD" kicked in, "Babe, watch my camera." I chuckled. She didn't know it wasn't over yet. I turned her around and her dad was awaiting her with his familiar look and open arms. He made the 5 hour trip from St. Marys, GA earlier that morning to help complete my surprise. He was my icing on the cake. Crystal broke down as they hugged. Soon after, she looked at me with admiration. Though she was speechless, she began to nod her head and I knew she understood, we were engaged!