As we all know, nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition. And, for the most part, nobody expects perfection. There are many unexpected moments in life. Some for everyone – like The Eagles reunion tour. Some for few – like me up and moving to Sweden. And then, there are a few just for Jen – like Brad proposing in front of his and her families at what Jen thought was going to be my birthday dinner.
The setting was, unlike those moments unexpected, perfect. A small, cozy eatery in the meatpacking district of New York called 5 Ninth. The families were there (along with a few close friends), mingling and sharing predictions of how the events soon to take place might transpire. Jen’s mother and sister huddled with Diane and followed me around as Brad called to say they were nearly there. The crowd grew silent as we listened to the old, stained wooden stairs creak with every nearing step. Corey handed me a camera, saying my position was better for filming. The bartender topped off the last of the champagne glasses. And finally, as though her afternoon massage could’ve made her more oblivious to the looming proposal, Jen emerged.
Rarely in my life – and I suspect others there feel the same – have I seen a look of greater confusion. Jen swirled; her gaze bouncing from mother to sister to brother to father to cousin… Her eyes watering before her mind could fully paint the picture of what was happening. She turned to Brad for reassurance and answers. He was already on his knee, perched, proud, awaiting an answer of his own. Jen, in her confusion and utter misbelief of this moment she has waited for and pictured so many times before, cannot even answer. She starts to pull away, her primal instincts surfacing, telling her to run from that which is scary, new, too good to be true. But, Brad has her hand (in more ways than one) and will not let go. He stands and hugs her. Her cheeks are waterfalls for tears of joy. Her voice cracks and words are interrupted by laughter and heavy breathing. Brad kisses her and asks for an answer, as in her excitement and shock, she had mustered but a thank you, which albeit polite, is five letters longer than the simple answer he awaited. “Yes.” As she answers and the families cheer, champagne glasses are raised to the happy couple.
Jen makes her way through the crowd, crying and mumbling joyful “thank you’s,” “you’re here?’s,” and in one special case, a “happy birthday.”
The dinner that followed was kingly to say the least. Food and drink and smiles lined the grand table. Shots and ridiculous toasts filled the moments of silence (which, let’s be honest, due to me, were few and far between).
The parents sat proud. The siblings sat excited. The friends sat pleased. And the happy couple, amid their nearest and dearest, sat together… as they always will.