The Birthday/Proposal Story

The Birthday/Proposal Story

July 25, 2001

First off, I (Jeff) am telling this whole story with the point of view of Laurie in mind; so I'm not telling you anything she didn't know at the time.

It was Sunday, September 17th, 2000, two days before Laurie's birthday. We were at Laurie's parents' house celebrating it, and at one point I went up to her and tauntingly said "You know, today is not your birthday". "I knowwwww", she replied. The next night (Monday), we were in the basement talking and I said to Laurie again "To-DAY is not your birthday..."

"I know..", she again replied.

Midnight rolled around, and she came running up to me like a little girl at Christmas, waving her arms, screaming "IT'S MY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!". I held out my arms, gave her a big hug, and wished her a happy birthday. She looked at me expectantly, and I said "Oh... No, you're not getting anything NOW....". She was crestfallen. :)

The next morning when we woke up, she screamed "IT'S MY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!!!", and again looked at me expectantly. I again hugged her and told her Happy Birthday, but that she wasn't getting anything yet. Before she could react I told her "By the way, Laurie, where would you like to go for dinner tonight? I deliberately didn't make reservations at the Top-Of-The-Hub or anything, because I figured you'd rather eat around here, like at Chili's, or McDonalds or something". Again, crestfallen. She was crushed. "So just think about it and tell me later where you want to go" I threw in quickly.

We headed in for work together (we worked in the same building (still do at the time I'm writing this), and sometimes drove in in one car). She got the keys that day, because she had a doctor's appointment, so as far as she knew, I was stuck at work all day. Around 2:00pm she called me up and asked:

"How far is too far?"

"Huh?", I replied? Then she started explaining that I had said Boston was "too far away" for us to have eaten there, so she wanted to know what was too far. "Well what do you want to do?" I asked, and she said "I don't want to tell you unless it's close enough..".. "Just tell me! Where do you want to go?" I pushed.

"Well, I was thinking that maybe we could go up to York Beach," (we'd gone there 3 months earlier for a full week for vacation) " at that great italian place we went to, then walk along the beeeaacccch....., then GO TO THE ARCADE AND PLAY THEATRE OF MAGIC!!!!!" (Theatre of Magic was a pinball machine we'd been playing since we started going out, and they had it at York Beach's arcade) "Actually, that sounds great!" I replied, "let's do that!".. Laurie was so happy. But then we checked and it turned out the weather was going to be bad. "Oh, looks like it's going to rain. Sorry Laurie, that's too bad". She quickly countered with "They have Theatre of Magic at the Nashua mall!! Can we go there?"

"Yeah, but that's a long drive.... Let's just go to Chili's" I said (She'd picked Chili's as her other choice when we found out about the rain). "Oh kaayyy.. " she said, like a kid hearing that Santa had broken his ankle in a skiing accident. We drove to Chili's.

"By the way", she warned me at the front door, "I don't want anyone singing at me.." "Of course not" I replied.. "I hate when they do that.. I'd never do that to you". We ate our entire meal, ordered desert, then just as the waitress was walking away Laurie triumphantly said "See! Yes! No one can sing to me now, because we already ordered dessert!".. But of course, they came out clapping "Happy happy birthday, it's your birthday today!!" with Laurie's cake/dessert.

Then we finally go to leave. And if this story seems long and drawn out, yes, it is, and for a reason. So we finally get to go home, and then Laurie notices that across the street The Party Store is going out of business and is having a clearance sale.. "PLEASE, can we PLEASE go??" she begged. I turned to her and said "Laurie, on your birthday, you can have whatever you want.. Sure, let's go", and across the street we went to The Party Store.

We proceeded to spend like $150 on enough wrapping paper for 60 Christmas's, Halloween costumes for the next century or two, a plastic lizard, eventually at a later date a styrofoam head, etc.

"Oh man, we just spent $150 in here" I said when I saw the receipt. "Yeah, but it would have been $800 at regular prices!! 80% off!!" she exclaimed with glee.

After leaving the store, we finally (really this time) made it home. Sitting in the car with her in the driveway, I told her "Laurie, I got you.. .. a card", and handed her a birthday card from hidden in the back seat of the car.

For the third time in 24 hours she had that sad puppy-dog crestfallen expression, after hearing that she was getting a card. She opened it up, and read all about how that I loved her, wished her a happy birthday, blah, blah, and to look under the DVD player for the keys to the video cabinet.

She tore out of the car, ran like crazy to the front door, fumbled with her keys, got in, ran across the room, practically threw the DVD player against the wall, grabbed the key, ran back to the video cabinet, unlocked it, and threw it open.

Now, at this point I didn't know, but I do know now, that Laurie was convinced that she was getting a PalmPilot for her birthday. So she looked and looked in the video cabinet, then said "Where is it??!?" "Huh? What are you talking about?" I asked, playing dumb, as she continued to look. Then she saw right there in the center of the cabinet there was a small white piece of paper.

"Look under the piano", was all it said. So she went to look under the piano, and saw another piece of paper telling her to "Go upstairs to the bedroom, unscrew the coax jack from the wall, and look inside". She happily ran upstairs waving both arms, calling out "come on kitties!!!" to our four cats. When she unscrewed the coax jack from the wall, she found another piece of paper, telling her to look somewhere else. One said "Look at me, realize I'm loving watching you do this, come up to me, kiss me, and ask in a really sexy voice what the magic password is.. then go to the iMac and do a find-file on that". It was awesome. She loved it. She found 28 pieces of paper bouncing her all around the house (since she had just turned 28 years old). Then she got one that said "move the kitties out of the way, go down into the basement, and look under the Star Wars Podracer clock". (It's a 1 foot by 2 foot little Star Wars Episode I clock that's in the basement). So she went downstairs, looked over to the left where she expected to see the desk that the clock should be resting on, but instead saw the THEATRE OF MAGIC PINBALL MACHINE THAT I HAD BOUGHT FOR HER THREE MONTHS EARLIER!!! (with the podracer clock on top of it)

Laurie almost had a heart attack. She started jumping up and down screaming "OH MY GOD!!!! HOW DID YOU DO THIS??!?!? WHEN DID YOU DO THIS??!!?". She wouldn't even play it until I explained how I'd gotten it there, when, etc. (Since she'd been in the basement the night before and it hadn't been there, and I didn't even have a car that day)

(Three months before I left work mid-day, went to Wakefield (Pinball Warehouse), tested and bought the machine, and arranged for them to keep it there for 3 months. I then told a friend Doug Stetson that I needed a favor around September, but I couldn't tell him what it was - he just had to trust me. A few days before I told him to take out the back seats from his minivan and make sure he brought it to work Tuesday. When I got to work we left immediately, and once on the road he said "You can tell me now, we're on the road..." "Nope!", I said, and waited until we got to Wakefield and he saw. We took the machine to the house, took the back door off the hinges, almost killed ourselves a few times, brought the machine downstairs, attached the legs, set it up, let Doug play it a bit, then left in time to be back at work for Laurie asking me if York Beach was too far away).

Which is the next amazing part - Laurie had absolutely no idea that I had bought her this.. When she asked to go up to York Beach, it was the best thing she could have asked. I was fully prepared to drive up to Maine and spend $30-40 in a Theatre of Magic pinball machine, even though Laurie already owned one, just to build up the surprise. Luckily, it rained in Maine. :)

And the machine makes all these sounds, like "Youuuu haaaaavee the Magic!!", that Laurie and I were saying so much already that it was part of her vernacular.. So for three months every time she said "Yooouuuu haaaaavee the Magic!!", I had to bite through my tongue to keep from laughing about the fact that she already owned it but didn't know it yet!

(We'd even gone to Canobie Lake Park one afternoon, played some pinball machine that I'd played before many times (Whirlwind I think?), and I asked her what she thought.. "It's good.. ..but it's no Theatre of Magic", she said. It was tough to not react then!)

So we finally start playing, she's incredibly happy, and after some huge number of games she frantically wants to call someone to tell them about this. So when she does get a friend on the phone, she says "GUESS WHAT I GOT?!?!?!?".. "A ring?" was the answer from the other end of the phone, and she screamed (this is a direct quote):


Jackpot, I think. Oh man, any stray fears about whether this was the right thing to do went out the window at that moment. Better than a ring? Wow.

And it occured to me that I'd never be able to top this.. This was it.. No surprise would even come close..

So, 4 days later when driving in Lowell near the walkway on the Merrimack, I asked Laurie if she wanted to go rollerblading. "Sure", she said (we always keep our blades in the car). "Oh cool I've got my camera" I said as I got the blades out of the trunk. We rollerbladed down the trail along the Merrimack, and came to a bench. "Sit down, I want to take a picture of you"

She sat down in the center of the bench. I told her to move over to the edge, she looked like she was sitting alone on a bench. "I AM sitting alone on a bench!" she replied.. "Just move over", I persisted, and she moved to the end of the bench. I leaned over to put the camera behind the bench, reached into the camera case, and pulled out the ring that I'd bought for her. So there I am, on one knee and one rollerblade, I give her the ring, and say "Laurie, you've made me the happiest man in the world. Will you be my wife? Will you marry me?"


Jeff & Laurie's Page