Friday, September 28, 2007

Rules of engagement

When it’s time to propose, every man has the goal of sweeping his woman off her feet. He visions the smile on her face, the tears in her eye, and the joy in the air after the perfect proposal. Like the Japanese before Pearl Harbor, the success of the incident weighs on achieving surprise.

My plan is simple and foolproof. On the day she redeems her gift certificate for a massage I’ll take her to a nice dinner afterwards and pop the question. When a plan is developed, any alteration must be premeditated. A well rehearsed plan can be executed without flaw or an emotional backlash (in other words, a choke).

After days of tirelessly explaining to her how tired she appeared and her need for a massage, I finally received my breakthrough. Through my telephone, the words “I made an appointment for my massage next Tuesday,” were heard. It was then time to initiate phase two.

Phase two included contacting the restaurant ahead of time and having them prepare a celebratory chocolate cake for our engagement dinner. Phase two also involved practicing my proposal speech to a flawless level; a level that could be unleashed without any mental involvement.

Phase three was the first action phase the day of the engagement. It was time to approach the father the morning of the proposal. Many things go through a man’s mind when thinking of the father’s reaction to asking permission for her hand. She is his little girl, and he would probably like her to remain as such.

Problems with phase three surfaced with the realization that she still lived with her parents, and they would all be home on that Tuesday morning. “How in the world am I going to isolate the father?” was the question at hand.

One of her jobs was to feed an absentee rancher’s animals. That had to be my moment. As soon as she left, I would roar over to her house, ask her father, and hurry back home before she returned. It only took ten phone calls to her house to determine the exact time of her departure to feed.

The eleventh phone call was made to her mother, to confirm her departure. The eight mile journey to her home was one of nervous fear. Nervous for what her father might say, and fear that I might fly off the road at that speed. I approached her driveway just in time to see her turning into it. “I’m too late!!” I hollered.

This kicked me into plan B of phase three. I was required to use the telephone to ask her father. She answered the phone rather sternly. “According to my caller ID, this is the twelfth time you’ve called here in the last 30 minutes, what do you want?”

“Can I speak to your father?”


“Uhhhh, a farming question.”

Phase four was the final phase. Get the massage, go to dinner, and propose after we give our order. En route to the massage, she informed me that she had to return home immediately after the massage, which would leave no time for dinner. Panic set in. “Let’s go to a nice lunch!” I blurted.

After ordering, stomach butterflies had caused me to need the restroom. “Relax, it’s a sure thing, you’ve rehearsed it to a flawless level,” said the good side of my brain.
“You are a crazy fool! She doesn’t like you that much and your little flawless phases are failing miserably!” argued the other side of my brain.

Upon returning from the bathroom, it was time to get things over with. Before I could scoot my chair back in, my mouth started speaking my rehearsed line. My eyes hadn’t found where she was sitting yet. On cue, my hands pulled the ring from my pocket.

The result was a resounding silence. The wrong side of my brain pointed his finger in arrogance. The good side of my brain began to flee the scene.

“Of course I will, Kevin; it just took me a minute to understand what you were asking in that weird monotone auctioneer voice.”

Kevin Duling is a wheat farmer and freelance writer from Maupin, Ore. His stories will be posted on the Capital Press blog every Friday. Comments are welcomed at

Copyright, June 2007, Kevin Duling

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