When proposing to my girlfriend, Kelly over the Christmas/New Year break I expected the Hollywood movie scene bit: she would gasp, she would cry, then smile then say ‘yes’.
Yeah… Turns out I should have had a plan B ready to roll.
I wanted to nail the proposal because I’ve had a long held belief that a proposal of marriage is the most romantic moment a couple can share. It’s private, it’s personal and it’s the moment where you say ‘I want to be with you forever, I want to commit to you forever, no-one will ever make me as happy as you do, you are the one’.
Men are often at the wrong end of a woman’s scorn for our inability to commit. So trust me, when the proposal comes we (a) mean it and (b) are nervous as hell asking the question.
We’d been together two years and I decided it was time.
I started preparations in October when I gave a jeweler my budget. We agreed that I should propose with just a diamond then Kelly could design the ring herself – how very 2013 of us!! I thought about it daily for the next two months and never wavered in my commitment to the proposal but became more and more obsessed with it being perfect.
Fast forward to Christmas Eve – we had that morning arrived at the Singita Ebony lodge in Kruger National Park, South Africa. At 4pm we headed out on safari and saw four lions walk right past our open top vehicle, there was rhino with baby, hippos galore, hundreds of buffalo gathering at a watering hole, a lone leopard, impala, kudu, warthog, zebra, eagle and giraffe.
My girlfriend is a committed animal lover and when the safari ended at 7pm she described it as one of the highlights of her life. Perfect!! Now, let’s get back to the lodge, so I can put a diamond-shaped cherry on top of your already perfect day.
As we made our way home, Kelly pointed out exactly how hungry she was and couldn’t wait to sample the tasty treats at our lodge’s restaurant. I was so nervous I couldn’t have eaten the edges off a paper thin wafer.
We finally get back to our room. It’s after 7:30 in real time but for us, as a couple… ‘it’s time’.
Here’s the script as I’d mentally prepared it…
ME: Let’s have a drink on the balcony before dinner.
KELLY: Sure, what a great idea.
(The balcony looked through a tree full of monkeys and over a spectacular river that was home to many a hippo).
Kelly sits down on the balcony with a glass of wine as I put on Breathless by Nick Cave (one of our favourite songs).
I get down on bended knee, hold her hand, tell her how much I love her and that I want to be with her forever. Tears of joy gather in the corners of her eyes as I present the diamond. I ask her to marry me, she says yes and we embrace in a way that is so warm, so true and so pure that it seems to join our souls in this moment of ecstasy.
Here’s what actually happened…..
ME: Lets have a drink on the balcony before dinner
KELLY: Are you kidding? I’m starving. Let’s get up to dinner
ME: Just come out on the balcony.
KELLY: It’ll still be there tomorrow. Let’s go to dinner.
(Now I’m getting desperate).
ME: I wanna show you something on the balcony
(I put the Nick Cave song on, turn the stereo up a little, grab her hand and lead her to the balcony).
KELLY: (She gets excited briefly) Is there a monkey out here??
ME: No, just sit down (reluctantly she sits).
(I get down on bended knee and hold her hand)
KELLY: What are you doing?
I start to tell her how much I love her
KELLY: What’s wrong with you? Why are you doing this?
My attempt to express the depth of my love continues… as do her interruptions.
KELLY: Are you testing material for a comedy bit?
I now decide to cut the love speech short because it’s getting drowned in cynicism and doubt. Time to pull out the ring. I reach into my pocket but I’m wearing cargo pants and my hand gets caught on a pocket inside a pocket and I can’t quite pry my hand loose. So I have to stand up, straighten my right pant leg with my left hand so I’m able to extricate my right hand, which is holding the ring. I get back down on bended knee and all she’s thinking is ‘we better not miss entrée’.
KELLY: What is your problem?
I present the ring.
KELLY: Is there a hidden camera here somewhere? What is this?
The loud groan of a hippo rises up from the river. I feel sure he’s been listening in to the proposal and is as exasperated as I am.
ME: I’m proposing. I’m asking you to marry me
KELLY: You’re what?
She now has a proper look at the diamond
ME: Will you marry me?
KELLY: Holy snappin’ duckshit you’re serious!!!
That is a direct quote. She actually said that and swears she has never before in her life used that expression.
Kelly: Oh baby, of course I will
‘Of course’????? ‘Of course’!!!!!!!! ‘Of course I will’!!!!!!! Then what the bloody hell was the last 3 minutes all about.
We hug, we kiss, we stare at each other. That was hard work. It didn’t go to script but we finally got there.
KELLY: Wow. What do I do now? I don’t know what to do.
ME: Let’s have dinner.
So we are engaged and have no idea what, when, where or how the wedding will take place. We’ve discussed all options from Vegas to an all comers extravaganza and nothing has stuck. But I know one thing for sure, there’ll be no surprises. She doesn’t cope well with surprises.
Lehmo was a chartered accountant for 10 years then made the natural step into stand up comedy. His stand up career has led to his current gigs as co-host of the gold 104.3 breakfast show in Melbourne with Brigitte Duclos, co-host of the AFL panel show Before The Game on Channel 10 and regular fill in on The Project on Channel 10. You can follow him on twitter – @lehmo23 – or like his Facebook fan page – ‘Anthony Lehmo.’