For years now the question on everyone’s lips at every wedding we’ve been to is – so when’s it your turn?
For years now we’ve been in fierce deadlock as to who would be the one to pop that question.
Finally, it was me, yes Chris, who broke the deadlock (we’d be in our retirement before James would ever ask!).
For some reason I knew even before we set off on our round-the-world-trip I wanted the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco to be the backdrop, but exactly how I would ask I had no idea.
What’s the tradition? Do I buy a ring? If there’s no ring do I go down on one knee? How will I be able to keep doing something special a secret if we are spending literally every waking minute with each other?
Questions I thought I’d found some of the answers to as we got closer to that day in May, but which quickly started to unravel when James started getting suspicious.
Earlier on that week (while we’d been stuck with the creepy couch surfing dude who I couldn’t stand), we went to China Town to the street where Karate Kid II was filmed.
There we found a Fortune Cookie factory. Inside they made the batter, poured it out onto tiny hotplates, and as it cooled the workers formed the iconic shape of the future seeing biscuits.
As the mini pancakes cool they place the fortunes inside before the biscuits solidify, and you could add your own message at this point in the process.
BINGO! I thought. But James was with me, so in my head I started planning my mission to come back and make my own engagement biscuit (much cheaper than a ring too!).
A few days later, much to my relief, we were done and dusted with Couchsurfing and in a seedy hotel in San Francisco’s notorious Tenderloin District. We’d waited until our last day to cycle over the bridge, but the night before, knowing what I was planning to do, I couldn’t sleep.
Leaving it all to the very last minute (no surprise there) I got up early and checked when the Fortune Cookie factory opened – 8am – Bingo again! As James is a serial dozer, here I had my chance. When he was still comatose I came up with the excuse I should go to buy our food for the day.
Off I went to make the fortune cookie, which turned out all fine. Then came the food and the picnic. It felt presenting a $1.50 fortune cookie with the proposal inside wouldn’t quite cut it, so a bottle of champers seemed appropriate. But that would be my undoing.
By 8:15 the romantic gesture was all made, but I had to wait until 9:00am for the shops to open. How was I going to cool said Champagne. Ice of course. So I bought a bag of that and wrapped it all in my backpack, hidden away. Then I went to buy the picnic supplies I was meant to be buying.
Thing is, as many of you may know, I’m what many people call a serial faffer. I have no concept of how long things take. And before I knew it I’d been wandering downtown San Francisco’s streets for nearly 2 hours, and the serial dozer was very much awake and demanding to know where I was.
“Where are you? How long are you going to be? We’re going to be late!”
said a tirade of texts.
“I got lost”
was my best reply. Thing is who really gets lost this days with Google Maps two taps away on an iPhone?
I get back to the hotel, hot and sweaty, and LATE.
James was not happy. But I was prepared. All special purchases were carefully stowed and hidden. I jumped in the shower, James slowly fuming at my timekeeping (a scene which has been repeated pretty much everyday for 6 months).
Then, I hear a rustling, and James exclaims… “Why have you spent $66 dollars in Target?’. He’d only gone foraging through the shopping bags, and I’d left the receipt in the bag which had the champagne purchase on it. “PUT THAT DOWN!”, I yelled, fiercely.
For the rest of my shower, I slowly boiled that my surprise had been foiled by the most careless of errors. I should’ve known tight arse James would’ve scrutinised my spending and gone fishing for receipts. The Champagne was a dead giveaway.
We go to the bike hire shop and I’m in a bad mood, mostly at myself, but partly with James for ruining the proposal. As time passes, and we ride along towards the world famous bridge I calm myself down and focus.
I still have the fortune cookie as the surprise, even if he has already figured out something unusual is going to happen.
My next mistake was where I planned to do the proposing, by waiting until we were on the other side of the bridge (all the views so far had been spectacular). So I’m stalling, as it’s too early to have lunch. But slowly I started to feel a damp patch on my back.
The ice from the Champagne is melting, and as we cycled along it pissed through my rucksack all down my back, as we went across the Golden Gate Bridge. This is NOT how I planned it.
But worse was yet to come. When you get to the other side of the bridge you can turn left up a hill for a stunning view of the 1930s crossing from up above. If you turn right it takes you on a steep descent around the bay leaving no view of the bridge in sight. Guess which way we went?
By this point I’m feeling very wet, and pretty dejected, and I just want to get it over with. So we pulled into a little picnic area, by some bins and a dry bit of scruffy scrubland, looking out over the water, but no bridge in sight. Here’s the ever so romantic spot.
Just how I envisioned it 🙄. So we sat down, got the overpriced hummus and snacks out which hadn’t completely disintegrated in the deluge of the great ice melt, and I got out my fortune cookie.
Now judging by the run of bad luck I’m having you’d think I was about to tell you it had smashed into a million pieces, but fortunately it was still intact.
But not knowing what to do, and being pretty much over the debacle by now, I just handed it to James and didn’t say anything. Not down on one knee, nothing. He cracks it open, sees the proposal, and replies “Okay”.
To be fair to him it was as much as I deserved. But at least it was okay! The Champagne gets popped, which IS cold (thank you for small mercies), I apologised, telling him this wasn’t the way I wanted it to happen, and then asked him to marry me properly, for which I received a proper answer!
The thought was all there, it was the execution which let me down. From the photos you would never know, and I edited the whole thing to look picture perfect in the Facebook and Instagram posts which followed (of course!).
So for all of you soppy enough to have commented that this romantic gesture made you feel all warm inside, or even brought a tear to your eye, I’m afraid this is in fact the shambles behind the story.
Sorry about that. Too tight to buy a ring, and too disorganised to do it right. Luckily James just didn’t tell me to do one, meaning, one day he’s going to say I do!