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The perfect proposal

David Sharaz

So, you’re ready to pop the question but you’re just not sure how to do it…

You’ve got the perfect girl, and the perfect ring. Now all that you need is the ultimate gesture of your love: the proposal.

Before you get all worked up, don’t. Put the scotch down and stop sweating, you’ve nothing to worry about. That perfect proposal she’s expecting, or you think she’s expecting, doesn’t actually exist.

I’m not being a pessimist—in fact, far from it. I’m just pointing out that the proposal won’t necessarily happen like it does in the movies. It won’t necessarily be ‘perfect’. You’re going to get nervous. There may well be hiccups. But guess what? It’s all those hiccups that actually make a proposal story one worth telling, and I’m here to prove it.

Now, before I go on, I should point out that my proposal strategy is not something I had been planning since childhood.

I did, however, have a basic plan: buy a ring, ask permission from my girlfriend’s parents, and live happily ever after.

Any guy who has gone through it knows just how difficult asking someone to marry you is. Don’t get me wrong, proposing is not in the same category as trying to solve a Rubik’s cube, but it is challenging nonetheless…

It was terrifying. Even with what I thought was a foolproof proposal plan, asking Alex to marry me proved to be one of the most stressful things I have ever done.

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Here is an overview of my big proposal.

Buying a ring

For me the whole thing started with an unfortunate miscalculation: I finished purchasing the ring the day before we headed overseas on our holiday. Unwise, I know, but I didn’t have a choice. My now-fiancée Alex (spoiler alert: yes, I was successful) has watched so many crime show re-runs that you’d be forgiven for thinking she is an FBI profiler, so I needed to get the ring at the last possible moment lest she find out about it. Plus, I’m not great at keeping secrets.

To be honest, I’m surprised I didn’t leave the ring brochure on the coffee table with the exact diamond I chose circled in black Sharpie.

Cutting a long story short – I did end up successfully finding the perfect ring, but only after the entire mall was evacuated after a fire alarm went off… My advice? Plan ahead and buy the ring well in advance. I ended up with an angry girlfriend wondering where I was the day we were supposed to be packing for our holiday. She loved the ring though, so trust your gut on that one.

Location

I chose to propose while we were overseas, as I thought it would be romantic. It was romantic, but it was also nauseating and I’m fairly certain that I aged a decade in the process. Navigating airport security with an expensive ring in your backpack isn’t the most relaxing way to start a holiday. I’d probably propose in Australia next time – I mean, if there was a next time, which hopefully there won’t be…

Proposal (it was a doozy)

Alex isn’t the kind of girl who would have appreciated a wild public gesture. I really admire those men who can get down on one knee at a restaurant and pop the question over dessert. Firstly, how do they eat a whole meal without throwing up from nerves? Truth be told, if I’d have done it over a fancy meal it’d probably have ended with food on the floor and a walk out. (I would have walked out, quietly sobbing.) There are many things my now-fiancée does well but handling surprises with a cool, calm demeanour is not one of them, so I opted for a quiet romantic meal in our villa with some candles. At least that’s what I had planned…

I wanted to wait four days into our holiday to ask the most important question of my life, but that simply wouldn’t work for my health.

I needed to get it over and done with. If she said ‘no’ (don’t fool yourself, you’ll think it too at some point), I could have at least seen out the remainder of our trip by the pool with Adele’s Someone Like You playing  loudly, on repeat.

The Indonesian villa staff kindly agreed to set up a private meal while I took Alex out for a couple of hours. I worried about how the language barrier might affect my dinner request, but was comforted by their assurance that it would be the “best proposal ever”. Can’t argue with that!

Nothing too over the top guys, right?

“No, no. We understand; it be very subtle Mr David.”

(I had reason to worry. Hours earlier I’d asked to use the reception phone to call my prospective fiancée’s parents for permission. I realised I should have specifically requested a “private call” when the manager, and all of his staff, came into the small office to listen in to my conversation. I can’t lie, their smiles and wild enthusiastic gestures while I made that call calmed me. Thanks guys.)

On the pretence that we needed to exchange money for an evening of festivities I managed to get Alex to leave the villa. This, dear friends, is where the plan slowly started to unravel. Firstly, we were only out for 15 minutes. The notoriously busy local traffic seemed to vanish—for one special moment—just for me. It was as if all the locals decided they’d stay in that night. We got back to the accommodation too early and the villa wasn’t ready. I ended up having to dawdle to try to drag out the three-minute walk to our preplanned in-villa dinner. I tried everything: tying my shoe…and then my other shoe. I literally stopped to smell the roses. At one point I even made small talk with all of the staff, asking them for gardening tips. (I live in an apartment).

Candles and frangipani leaves lined the path to our room, which was obstructed from view by a curtain. Confidently, I let Alex lead the way. A wry smile appeared. Yes, I’ve done very well. I know this. Inside, I was panicking. I let her pull back the curtain to reveal our special, private meal.

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Instead of the song I’d asked to be playing as we walked in, there was something resembling a pan flute backing track. The same one used during our in-room massage earlier that day. Not one to hold a grudge, I decided the Pied Piper’s beats didn’t fit this occasion and turned off the speaker. I walked in behind Alex to see how the hotel staff had set up the room. Those rose petals I had asked for? They were on the bed as per my suggestion, however, not so much petals but wilted remnants of petals with thorny stems. Kindly, they’d wrapped them in cellophane and placed them on my pillow.

I soon discovered that  the “fine dining experience” I’d requested consisted of the blue outside-patio-table (dragged neatly into our lounge room, without a tablecloth); romantic tea light candles (read: citronella candles); the finest white wine on offer (cans of coke, with straws jammed under the ring pull); and a lovely meal (mi goreng, covered neatly with plastic microwave lids). It was far from perfect but neither was what followed…

I’d been thinking of what to say when the time finally came to ask the question I’d been going over for weeks.

I didn’t sleep a wink the night before because I was so nervous. My plan was to ask after dinner. I was going to get down on one knee and give a speech. You know, like you’re supposed to do. The hotel staff had another plan, however. One more surprise up their sleeve just for me. They’d taken it upon themselves to spell out on the floor, in giant rose petals, the question I was supposed to ask: “Would you marry me?”  I was floored.

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Now, would I have preferred to not have had to run to the safe to grab the ring? Sure. Would it all have run smoother if I didn’t have to wait for my girlfriend to stop laughing before asking her myself to marry me? Of course. Yet despite that awful proposal we’ve been engaged since September, and I actually look back on that day fondly. You see I actually think things going terribly makes for a much more memorable and interesting story to tell. I guess I was too caught up on all those Hugh Grant movies my girlfriend makes me watch* that I focused on glitz and glamour, rather than the meaning behind it.

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I wanted to share my story with you just in case you’re thinking of popping the question yourself. It’s important to know that just because things may not go to plan it doesn’t mean you can’t still get the answer you want.

*It’s a lie. They’re all my purchases.

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David Sharaz

David Sharaz is a political reporter for SBS World News based in Canberra, although, that’s just one aspect of his life. In his free-time he takes photos of his cats and gets emotionally invested in Netflix programs which only last one season. He lives in Canberra’s South with his fiancé after being kicked out of Braddon for not being hip enough. More about the Author

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