For our two-year anniversary, I took Michelle to the Newport Aquarium in Newport, Kentucky. I had been in contact for a couple weeks with Newport Aquarium’s sales director, event manager, and guest relations manager. Together, we constructed a plan on how to get the ring to them without Michelle knowing, as well as the actual plans on executing the proposal. Upon arrival at the aquarium, I left Michelle at a giant humpback whale statue, went up to the Guest Services desk to get our tickets, slid the ring across the desk, and picked up our tickets. We toured the aquarium a couple of times, took many pictures, and had an excellent time. In between tours through the aquarium, we sat down by the Ohio River and stared into the beautiful, scenic city of Cincinnati.
At 2:45pm, we had what was called a "Penguin Encounter." One of Michelle’s favorite animals is a penguin, so I made sure to get tickets for this "Encounter". It’s basically a twenty to thirty minute encounter where you can pet the penguins, play with them, get your picture taken with them, etc. Michelle knew that we had the "Penguin Encounter" scheduled, but little did she know I rented out the Encounter for just the two of us. As we walked up to the room for the Penguin Encounter, I noticed the penguins pecking at a piece of paper envelope that was on the ground!
I nonchalantly said, "oh it looks like the penguins have a chew toy!" Picking up on my hint, our two Encounter guides took us inside the room and one of them picked up the envelope. We met the three South African Black-Footed Penguins: Simon, Paula, and Randy. How clever! We played with them for about five to ten minutes, and then the tour guide said to Michelle, "I actually think Paula has something for you." She put the paper envelope in Paula’s beak, and without hesitation or curiosity, and as if they had been training her to do this for months, Paula turned and walked straight over to Michelle and dropped the paper envelope into Michelle’s hand, which contained an engagement ring.
That’s right! I had it worked out for the penguin to deliver the ring to Michelle. After a surprised "ARE YOU SERIOUS?!," I took the ring from Michelle and got down on one knee. I looked Michelle in the eyes as her eyes filled with tears, and asked, "Do you know how much I love you, Michelle? Will you do me the honor of standing beside me forever as husband and wife? Will you marry me?" She was already nodding and gave me a joyful "yes" and wiped the tears from her eyes. The rest of the day was filled with her putting pieces together of all the lies I told her the past few weeks to keep my secret contained. She spent the entire two and a half hour drive back to Indiana making phone calls to friends and family. We are now engaged to be married in May of 2009 after she is out of school.
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