Did you read yesterday’s post? It was the first half of a big Valentine’s Day date that Tom and I had 14 years ago. When you last left us, we were in the car headed to Manassas, VA, just outside of Washington, D.C. and I was fairly sure Tom would propose at some point in the evening.
What part of this sentence is not realistic: Let’s drive up to D.C. on Valentine’s Day and just randomly pick a restaurant and expect to get a table without having to wait and with no reservations? Have you ever tried to go out for dinner, especially in a big city, on Valentine’s Day? Restaurants are packed that night, and even more so when Feb. 14 falls on a Saturday! It was at this point that I apparently took leave of my senses. Blinded by love, perhaps. I cannot explain it.
What I knew: We arrived at Warren’s & Martha’s house and while getting dressed up, Tom asked them to recommend somewhere great to eat. Martha suggested Carmello’s, a darling little Italian place where she just recently had lunch with a friend. A phone book was produced, the restaurant number located and a call was made. Busy. Tom tried again. Busy again. Finally on the third or fourth try, he spoke with someone at Carmello’s who said that they’d had a recent cancellation that evening. If we could get there in 20 minutes, they would seat us. Amazing!
Upon arriving at the restaurant, the host greeted us and asked for our name. Tom gave his last name and said, “I called you about the cancellation.” Wait a minute, I couldn’t remember Tom giving his name on the phone. But the host gushed, indeed he remembered talking to Tom and how lucky we were to get in with that cancellation. He then proceeded to take us to a private table in a small alcove created by a bay window.
Reality: Martha did eat at Carmello’s earlier in the week. She was there to scout out the best table. Tom did not call the restaurant; he was calling Martha’s friend who was on her phone, hence the busy signal. In desperation, Tom finally spoke to the busy signal, pretending to talk to someone at the restaurant. Tom did indeed have a reservation for us. There was no “cancellation.”
What I knew: Dinner was good, but funny because I ordered something I didn’t like. I also felt nervous, so I didn’t have much of an appetite. As the waitress cleared our plates, she filled our water and asked if we’d like to see the dessert cart, of which we were not opposed. We chatted. I love dessert, so I kept waiting for her to reappear with some sweets. She was nowhere in sight.
Reality: Tom previously instructed the restaurant to clear our table and then leave us alone until he asked for the waitress to return.
What I knew: At some point Tom, who was now looking nervous, got the conversation around to serious things and pulled a ring box out of his coat pocket. I forget the specifics of what he said, but in some manner of speaking, he popped the question. In his nervousness, he dropped the box on the table (I joke that he threw the ring at me) and waited for my answer. I paused, thinking he was going to get down on his knee because he shuffled his chair.
What Tom knew: That pause was a million seconds long.
Reality: It was only a few seconds. The alcove, while private, didn’t leave Tom enough room to pull his chair out. I felt bad for waiting when I realized that. I said yes.
What I knew: After we both wiped away tears and composed ourselves, Tom asked me if I’d still like dessert. You betcha. A passing waiter was asked to get our waitress. When she arrived at the table, he declared that he had just proposed to me and he wanted to her to go find me some flowers. “I don’t care what it takes, bring my fiancée flowers!” That shocked me, but the waitress responded like it was not an unusual request. “I’ll see what I can do, sir.” We had seen men out on every other street corner selling roses out of buckets, but still that seemed a bit much to ask. Minutes later, she was walking toward us with a giant arrangement of roses with my name on them. As she carried them to our table, the entire room started clapping! I was overwhelmed as the light finally dawned that all of this had been prearranged.
Reality: I am tearing up today reliving that moment. Obviously, the roses were not from a bucket, Tom had them delivered to the restaurant earlier that day.
What I knew: I was marrying Tom! Dessert was fantastic, by the way. When we finally made it back to the car, there was an envelope in the passenger seat. Did someone break into our car? It contained a card and cassette tape #4.
Reality: Warren & Martha spent their Valentine’s evening driving around the city streets near the restaurant to find where we parked the car and deliver this last tape. Tom had a spare key made that he slipped to them while at their house. We have great friends!
With promises for our future life together, the tape contained a song that became special to us. Six months later, I would surprise Tom by singing it to him while he wept at our wedding.
I still love you, Tom. From This Moment On.