The best part of my meal:
- Being surprised with dinner at the fanciest restaurant at Epcot
- Being asked to spend the rest of my life with a wonderful man ♥♥
- The scallops
The worst part of my meal:
- Wishing Marlo could have been there
I opened my eyes on February 18, 2015 to two giant eyes staring at me. “Happy Birthday!” Charlie exclaimed. The adrenaline of it being my birthday finally arose me out of my sleepiness and I smiled. “Happy Birthday to meeee!” I squealed as the two of us began jumping on the bed. I am always far too excited for my birthday every year, but Charlie seemed to be even more excited than I was. I filed his excitement in the back of my mind before giving in to the birthday mania.
I knew Charlie had planned me an exciting birthday dinner but the location was a surprise. All day I was distracted by the anticipation of my surprise dinner and I found myself often forgetting that it was my birthday. (I guess that’s what happens when you’re my age. 😦 wah wah). At 5pm on the dot I was home from work getting myself dolled up for our nice dinner.
I had picked out a teal dress since it was Charlie’s favorite color. I had to take some selfies in our matching Sharks bathroom.
At 6:10 on the dot Charlie picked me up in our parking lot and as we rolled up World Drive I began guessing every possible restaurant he might surprise me with. I guessed every 4 and 5 star restaurant on Disney property. He let me know we were going to the ESPN club to watch sports.
We pulled up to the Boardwalk hotel and I immediately knew we were going to Epcot since we often park there and use the secret back entrance. “Tell them we’re going to Flying Fish! (A fancy restaurant) They won’t believe that we’re going to ESPN zone dressed like this!” I urged Charlie as we pulled up to the gate. “We have reservations at the Flying Fish,” Charlie told the guard, who checked his I.D. and let us into the parking lot. I was glad we dodged that bullet. As we walked down the boardwalk, we approached the Flying Fish and Charlie led me right to the doors! I couldn’t believe I had let him trick me into telling the guard exactly where we were going without me knowing it.
As soon as he reached for the door handle, he promptly grabbed my waist and veered on toward Epcot. He got me. But I told him he couldn’t fool me that way again. He tried about 3 more times. It didn’t work.
After meandering around the park (I looked at Charlie’s pockets and could tell there wasn’t a ring box. I even hugged him and tried to feel if there was anything but there was NOTHING. All the happy birthdays and lack of ring meant no engagement to me), we FINALLY approached our restaurant. Monsieur Paul – the fancy, almost secret, French restaurant at the top of the Epcot France pavilion. I was giddy about our upcoming five star meal!
We were seated almost immediately at a perfect table by the window. We both ordered a three course meal.
During our main meal, I noticed that Charlie seemed to be checking out the restaurant a lot. He was a bit distracted and I even commented that he was acting a little like Marlo…very curious about his surroundings…
We were so full that we wouldn’t have ordered a dessert if it did not come with the prix fixe. I agreed to take a bite of almond cake and the waiter quickly hurried off.
Instead of the waiter, the manager of the restaurant arrived and put a dessert plate in front of me. It wasn’t what we’d ordered.
The top of the white chocolate ball was covering the ring at the time. The manager asked if I knew what the writing meant. Despite getting to level 32 in French duolingo, I did not. Then Charlie removed the top, I saw the ring, and immediately blacked out.
When I realized what was happening, the woman next to me was in tears congratulating us. Immediately I did not remember anything, but supposedly Charlie DID drop to one knee and said “Shaina, je taime (I love you), will you marry me?” I asked him to do it again. He just laughed.
While still in a state of shock, we took some pictures and the fireworks started outside the window!
The shock never really wore off, but I was able to pose for some typical pictures.
I am still overwhelmed, but there’s no one I would rather go through life with. Wow! I’m engaged!
My proposal attempts had been twice foiled before. I would not let it happen again. I designed this ring and ordered it hoping it would be here by Christmas, where I could propose on the beach in Delray. It was not here. I scrambled for Christmas presents. I had then hoped I could propose on New Years Eve in, where else, Epcot at midnight, but I got a deathly cold (a theme in 2015 so far) and spent NYE on the couch. I wanted it to be a special occasion. The next available one would be Valentine’s Day. A little too cheesy for a proposal in my book, so I decided it could wait four more days for Shaina’s birthday. I booked the restaurant in secret, telling her only we were going out for dinner on her birthday and we’d want to look nice. Monsieur Paul is the fancier of the two restaurants in Epcot France. It was going to be perfect. From the day it arrived to the day I asked Shaina to marry me (about six weeks), I pulled the ring out of my desk drawer at my office and stared at it every day, smiling at my little secret.
Nine days before the proposal, I set my phone on airplane mode so Shaina couldn’t trace me via “Find My Friends,” and snuck away from work to head on a scouting mission to Epcot. I nervously walked into Monsieur Paul, explained my plans, and the hostesses giggled and “awwed” and made post-it notes for themselves on the host stand to give us a window table. A manager came down and talked with me (a birthday and a proposal? oui.), gave me the name of the other manager who would be working that night, and wished me luck. I went on my way, a little disappointed that I couldn’t cement more of the plan, but glad that the restaurant was at least alerted.
Fast-forward to the day before. The funny thing about preparing to propose is that you start out about 90% excited and 10% nervous. By the time you reach the day before, it’s about 50-50. And on the day of, the scales just keep tipping until the whole thing is on its head and you can hardly eat. Anyway, the day before: my buddy Charles came to my office on a secret mission to deliver the “Just Engaged” buttons his wife, and our friend, Ashley had procured for the occasion. He asked me if I was nervous. I said not really. 50-50 counts as not really I think. That was all going to change.
If you know me, you know I’m not huge on tradition and social construct, especially those rooted in sexism, so I was never really sure if I was going to ask permission to marry Shaina. After Shaina made it clear one day that it was a must, I decided the only fair thing to do would be to ask both her parents, not just the patriarch. I was fortunate that Shaina’s dad, who lives in Hawaii, was visiting us that day. I was glad I’d get to ask at least one of them in person. He came with us to our usual Tuesday trivia night with our new Florida friends (and helped us place second.. we would have been lost without his help on before-our-time pop culture and medical trivia that game). When we got home, Shaina went upstairs to shower, so I had my chance. It took me a few minutes of small talk to spit it out. “Tomorrow, I’m taking Shaina out to a surprise dinner in Epcot France, and I’m going to ask her to marry me… if that’s okay with you.” He replied, “At your own peril.”
February 18th. E-Day. I started the day by making a big deal of Shaina’s birthday, repeating the word as often as I could so she would think that was all I was excited about and wouldn’t suspect anything. I went to work. I made it through the morning as best as I could with a ring burning a hole in my desk. After lunch (did I even have lunch?) I called my boss in New York and let him in on the plan, because I’d need to leave for a couple hours to plant the necessaries for the evening in the capable hands of Monsieur Paul. He offered to give me the rest of the day off, but I said no, I’d need the distraction. I already had a voicemail from Philippe, the manager who would be working that night and who would be instrumental to the plan. It was time to put my phone in airplane mode again and pay him a visit. I knew that when I brought Shaina later, I’d want to come in through the Boardwalk. It’s a nicer walk and brings you right into the park right between the UK and France. That meant that for this last secret scouting mission, I’d need to come in through the main Epcot entrance. I couldn’t have a Boardwalk parking lot guard recognizing me from earlier and saying anything.
It was mid-day, so I had to park pretty far away and ride the tram. I felt a little ridiculous among the throngs of shorts-wearing tourists, dressed nicely, alone, carrying a little paper bag. As I made my way through the park, the nerves started to build. I walked into Chefs de France (Philippe manages there during lunch before Monsieur Paul opens just for dinner) and asked to speak to Monsieur Philippe. He was older than his voice had sounded (I think he looks like Charles Widmore from Lost). In the bag, I had brought him the ring, the buttons, and a small Eiffel Tower I had bought in the shop there on my very first scouting mission. I thought they could bring her the ring on the Eiffel Tower on a plate. He had a better idea. After we’d order dessert, he’d bring a plate with a white chocolate egg-shaped contraption. On the plate would be written “Will you marry me,” but en français. Inside the egg thing would be the ring. He’d ask if she understood what the writing meant, and when she said no, I’d remove the top off the egg… et voila! Sounded pretty perfect to me. I then had to do what some people might think was the hardest part of the day: entrust the ring to a total stranger (it’s okay, it was already insured), and walk away. Back at my office, I made my call to Shaina’s mom. More small talk, then the question, then the tears. I would later find that crying is a first response for both the women of that family.
Then came the dinner. I picked Shaina up and told her we were headed to the Boardwalk, but she should bring her Magic Band just in case (you can only be so sly when your plan involves park admission, unfortunately). I told the guard at the parking lot we were going to the Flying Fish and marched straight for it. Reaching the doors, I veered us off-course towards Epcot. She says that was the only time I fooled her, but that is false. She then thought we were heading for Chefs de France and even started leading us there. I had to pull her off-course again and say, “that’s where the plebeians eat.. we’re going around back.” She understood what that meant, and her excitement grew. It was golden. We checked in. Monsieur Paul does seating in two large groups at specific times, and there were a dozen or so people already checked in and waiting, so I was nervous about getting our window, but sure enough our names were one of the first called and we were led right the window I was promised.
The meal, I’m sure, was delicious, but that’s not what I’m here to write about and I was too nervous to notice anyway. Time went by. The nerves kept building. Would they remember? Did they lose my ring? We ordered our desserts. I saw Philippe approaching. I knew she had no idea what was coming. He set the plate down in front of her. Veux-tu m’épouser? He asked her if she knew what it meant. She laughed and shook her head. He nodded to me. I pulled the top off the white chocolate shell. The ring was sitting in a bed of pink sugar and candy pearls. I let her look at it for a moment and absorb what was happening. Then I picked the ring up and got down on one knee. I think that’s when the waterworks started. But Shaina wasn’t alone.. the middle-aged woman at the table next to us with her husband started crying, too. I put the ring on Shaina’s finger and said, “Shaina, je t’aime. Will you marry me?” I don’t recall an actual yes, but I think she’s still wearing it so we’re good. I kissed her. People around us stared and smiled and clapped. I sat back down as she tried to process everything that had just happened, and our server brought us our actual dessert (with Happy Birthday written on the plate, of course). Then, the fireworks started outside. Yes, it was that perfect. The nerves disappeared. Everything had worked out just as I had hoped, as I had planned, and now we could just enjoy it and have fun. Oh, and plan a wedding! As Mickey would say if he were French, à très bientôt (see you real soon… huh-HAH)!
Shortly before Christmas, when I knew he hadn’t bought me a present yet, Charlie asked me if I loved rose gold as much as he did. I told him how obsessed I was with it and went on and on and on about it. Christmas came and went and I got no rose gold jewelry. In fact, I got no jewelry from Charlie. In mid to late January I finally told him how annoyed I was that he never bought me the rose gold jewelry he asked me about for Christmas. He was silent. I remained annoyed. Now I realize why he asked. I am a jerkface.