Tuesday, March 24, 2009

"Billie Jean" and Mr. Bruschetta on Bended Knee

Looking back, I realize I didn't make it easy on Mr. Bruschetta. In the months leading up to the proposal, I was overconfident to the point of cockiness, telling him I'd be able to sense the big moment before it happened. My mister, however, still wanted to surprise me, so he set to work on a plan.

As I mentioned in a previous post, my senior prom was our first date.

Unbeknownst to me, Mr. Bruschetta wanted to find a way to get into the ballroom where we laughed, danced and shared our first kiss to pop the question. And I unwittingly gave it to him.

Less than two months before the proposal, I began a new job. I learned that my office hosts an annual black tie awards ceremony, which was to be held in the same location as my prom -- the Park Hyatt Philadelphia at the Bellevue. Since significant others were welcome to attend, I requested Mr. Bruschetta join me -- but he hemmed and hawed in response. (As I'd later learn, all part of the plan!) It took a testy email from me (oops!) to eke out his commitment.


The evening of the event, I was stationed in the building lobby, directing guests upstairs. I tried not to get irked by the fact that Mr. Bruschetta would get to enjoy the cocktail hour. It didn't work. Ten minutes into my post, I was freezing from the frequent opening of the front doors -- and soon after, I became very hungry and thirsty! With about 15 minutes left before I could join Mr. Bruschetta upstairs, he came walking into the lobby.

"I just thought I'd go for a little walk," was the explanation. But, I noticed -- and commented on -- the fact that he really wasn't all that cold (considering it was freezing outside!).

I brushed off this minor observation, and soon joined the party upstairs. Many of my colleagues were meeting Mr. Bruschetta for the first time. After another round of introductions ("Oh, you're the boyfriend?"), one coworker asked how long we'd been together. He repeated Mr. Bruschetta's response aloud ("Seven years?!") and grabbed my left hand to check for jewelry: "You might want to get on that."

We were seated for dinner, and I spent the majority of the meal completely ignoring my mister, instead networking with the guests seated around me. At one point, Mr. Bruschetta disappeared for a bit, but I thought nothing of it. Dinner concluded, our table dispersed, and I finally turned my attention to my date.

I was finally starting to relax and enjoy myself, but tensed up almost immediately when Mr. Bruschetta suggested we go up to the wrap-around balcony overlooking the ballroom. He was insistent, so we headed over to the back stairway. A member of the catering staff stopped us, saying we couldn't access the upstairs that way. I latched on to this comment, trying to convince Mr. Bruschetta we should stay downstairs. He persisted, and soon, we were climbing another gilded spiral staircase. With each step, I whined and complained. I told Mr. Bruschetta I didn't want to get in trouble for being in the balcony. That I liked my job, and if I lost it, he'd have to find me another one. And when we reached the top of the steps, I secretly hoped the doors leading onto the balcony would be locked.

They weren't.


As Jellyroll provided a malapropos engagement tune ("Billie Jean is not my lover / She's just a girl who claims I am the one..."), Mr. Bruschetta patiently led a scowling Miss Bruschetta onto the balcony. ("Not so close to the edge, I don't want people to see us!") He took a deep breath. And he proceeded to say some of the sweetest things about our start at my prom, in the very same ballroom.

By now, I'd cottoned on, and found myself wishing I could freeze time, or step out of myself to capture this moment on film. Because next, after a brief struggle with the chunky ring box, Mr. Bruschetta was on bended knee, asking me to marry him.

Surprised? You bet I was. Just consider the first words that tumbled out of my (gaping) mouth: "Are you serious?!"

With a snazzy new ring on my finger, I couldn't stop smiling at Mr. Bruschetta, who further elated me by telling me he had one more surprise. He had booked a room in the hotel, and together, we shared a celebratory weekend in the city: A couples massage the following morning at the Ritz Carlton, dinner at (the sadly now defunct) Brasserie Perrier and a visit to the Renoir exhibit at the Philadelphia Art Museum.

For the next two days, I was in a blissful haze; I couldn't believe the amount of organization that had gone into the proposal. While I had assumed he was enjoying the cocktail hour, Mr. Bruschetta was in fact using a side entrance to unload the car. He checked in, set up the room and organized his thoughts on paper to calm his nerves. Mr. Bruschetta took into account my ideal proposal -- to be able to "get away" for our engagement, and to share the moment just between the two of us, and be able to (later) tell our families in person -- and even managed to make the one aspect I didn't share with him (to be newly-engaged during Christmastime) come to fruition.

Did you phone family and friends immediately after saying yes, or wait to share the news in person?

1 comment:

  1. That's a lovely story! P.s. you two are adorable high school grads ;)