Vicki and I had been dating for almost two years. The topic of engagement and marriage had been raised casually before, but after seeing her level of commitment to me over the past year and a half, I knew it was time to get serious.
Once I made the decision to propose, however, I was left with a predicament. Vicki had said from the beginning of our relationship, "If we ever get engaged, a ring is nice but it?s not that important. The most important thing to me is that the proposal be something really special." I had some thinking to do.
I did all the internet research and flipped through the ’99 ways to propose’ literature the jewelry manufacturers distribute, but nothing really stuck out as ‘the way’ for Vicki. I began thinking about things that are important to her. "She’s a volleyball referee, so what about proposing to her in the middle of a game on the court," I thought. Nah, too embarrassing. "She’s involved with Scouting, so what about doing something on a camping trip?" Nothing was scheduled that would work.
I was beginning to get discouraged when a co-worker mentioned Vicki’s classroom. "That’s it! That’s perfect," I said. Vicki had finally landed a full-time Kindergarten teaching job after more than two years of searching, and the kids were the most important people in the world to her. Wouldn’t it be cool to propose in front of them?! But, how would I pull it off
I e-mailed Vicki’s principal a month beforehand and explained what I wanted to do. She enthusiastically agreed to be my co-conspirator and set about thinking of ways to make sure the students would be in the room and ready for the big event. She eventually decided on a story to tell Vicki: A guest speaker would be coming in to do a presentation with the kids on health awareness, and Vicki would need to make sure they were in the room sitting on the rug by 1:45. "and oh yes, it might be a good idea to set up your video camera to tape it, because this was always an excellent presentation!"
In the mean time, I set about getting the afternoon off work, buying the perfect diamond, and arranging to have a dozen roses available for pickup (THORNS REMOVED?you?ll see why later!), and rehearsing my script. I also started trying to find out from Vicki if she suspected anything by asking her if anything special was going on at school. She had no clue, as she proceeded to tell me how annoyed she was that this ‘health presentation’ was going to be taking up half of her instructional time on the day in question. Everything was going perfectly!
Then, a bump in the road. Vicki’s principal e-mailed me four days before the big event to ask if I minded if they did "a little publicity surrounding our big event." I quickly telephoned her to ask for clarification, fully expecting she wanted the school yearbook photographer to be in attendance. To the contrary, she wanted to invite our local NBC affiliate and to contact the area’s largest newspaper. "Wow," I said. "Do you really think they’d be interested in our little proposal?"
"I can’t guarantee anything, but I’d like to try," was her response. How could I refuse?
I arrived to meet the principal in the school’s main office on October 23 to a roomful of teachers. They were all there to watch! The news reporters wanted to know "how’d you pick the idea?" and "are you sure she’ll say yes?" As if I wasn’t already nervous enough!
The principal walked down to Vicki’s classroom ahead of time to make sure the kids were ready and to warn her that the media had shown up unexpectedly. She waved them into the room to set up their cameras while I hid around the corner down the hall from her classroom.
As I walked into the back of the room, Vicki and her students were facing the front. I wanted her to hear my voice before she saw my face, so I introduced myself with a booming, "Good afternoon, boys and girls. My name is Mr. Grenier, and I am here to play a very special game with you today." By the time I reached the front of the room, Vicki understood the purpose of my visit and was already in tears.
"The first thing I need in order for this game to work properly is for Miss Borst to come up here and sit in this chair next to me," I said. Vicki made her way to the front. "Now, can anyone raise their hand and tell me what I have in my hands?"
"Roses," shouted Ryan.
"That’s right," I said, "and the way this game is going to work is that I am going to ask you some very important questions and each time you help me answer one of those questions, you get to come up and hand one of these roses to Miss Borst," (hence the thorns removed).
I began asking questions like, "What does it mean to love someone," "Who can help me spell the word, ‘love,’" and "Who can tell me the name of someone they love?" The kids were loving it! Almost all of her fourteen students got to come up and give Miss Borst a rose.
When there was one rose left, I said to the class, "It sounds like all of you love some wonderful people. Now, I’d like to tell you who I love the most in the whole world." By this point, Vicki was sobbing. "The person I love the most in the whole world is Miss Borst, and I love her so much that I came here today to ask her to marry me," I continued.
"But, I need your help," I said. "I am going to count to three, and on three, I want you all to shout ‘PLEASE’ as loud as you can." We practiced once, and I got down on one knee with the final rose in one hand and the ring in the other.
"Miss Borst," I said, my own eyes beginning to tear, "I love you, and I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Will you marry me? ONE? TWO? THREE?" She almost said "YES!" before her students had a chance to scream, "PLEASE?"
With the kids watching, there was
time for a tiny kiss and some applause from the teary-eyed teachers watching from the back of the room before the principal ushered in another teacher to take over the class while Vicki recovered and did a TV interview in the hallway.
We ended up making the evening news and the front page of the local newspaper.
We haven’t set a date yet, but I’m guessing Summer or Fall of 2005. Vicki is an unbelievable woman, and I am ecstatic to know that I will spend the rest of my life with her!
Justin R. Grenier,