On a recent trip to Southeast Asia I proposed to my girlfriend. Not an uncommon thing, I suppose. Happens everyday, right? Absolutely. Every day somewhere in the world an incredibly nervous, sometimes fumbling, guy musters up the courage to pop the question. This is a major moment in every man’s life and should not, of course, be taken lightly. Just to get to this point required a lot of thinking, planning, and courage.
One thing that all soon-to-be grooms know is that once you buy the ring, you think the hard part is done. You’ve already made the life changing decision. You’ve already done the shopping and found just the right diamond ring. How hard could things get? Well, it gets much harder when you plan to take that little diamond half way around the world and keep it secret from not only your spouse, but from every other person you come across.
I was a nervous shopper. Sales agents could see me coming from a mile away, all sweaty and panicked. Fortunately the process went fairly smooth. Unfortunately, I now had the unenviable task of keeping it out of site in our tiny little apartment. During those moments I had alone I would extract the ring from its perch, hold it in my hand, and think about what I would say, and where we would be when I said it.
Our planned itinerary at that time included several destinations and I wanted to find a romantic and meaningful location. I asked myself, should it be in Bangkok, on a riverboat along the Chao Phraya River? Should it be amongst the timeless ruins of Angkor Wat in Cambodia? Perhaps after rock climbing in Raillay Beach on the west coast of Thailand or an out of the way restaurant hidden within the teeming streets of Little India in Singapore. I had too many options.
Finally, after weeks of planning our trip was underway. At each airport checkpoint on the way from Toronto to Bangkok I felt as though all eyes were watching me nervously rifle through my bag to show the security personnel my underarm spray, which apparently looks threatening under x-ray. The ring was also in my shaving kit, just inches away. I agonized for what seemed like hours as they dismantled my bag in front of me. Luckily, I escaped unscathed.
Over the course of the next week my behaviour may have seemed somewhat erratic and strange. On several occasions I actually put my shaving kit in the hotel safe, prompting inquisitive looks from my girlfriend. I survived the airports and wandering hands of the seeming millions of people I bumped into on the street, but I was constantly on edge. The thing was burning a whole in my pocket but I was resolute in my desire to find just the right place and just the right moment.
At long last I found that place and moment. I proposed on the beautiful island of Koh Phi Phi Don, off the west coast of Thailand in the Andaman Sea. After a wonderful Thai dinner we went for a stroll on the calm eastern beach, the whole time my heart pounding and my breath short like I was running a marathon.
After the magic moment we spent the next several minutes holding each other, laughing and crying at the same time. For those few moments I had forgotten that I still had the ring in my pocket. When I realized this I immediately took it out and put it on her finger. Unfortunately the ring was slightly big and she therefore didn’t feel safe with it on her finger where it could easily slide off. Back into my burning pocket it went for the remainder of the trip.
For those guys out there thinking of proposing in a distant and romantic locale, let me give you a bit of advice. Resist the urge to simply propose just so you can stop worrying about it. Pick the right time and place, it’s worth it. Don’t rush and don’t miss that magical moment that happens when she says, ‘yes’.
On a lighter note, don’t consider undertaking such a risky venture unless you feel pretty confident that she’ll accept. It was my brother who aptly pointed out that if she had turned me down the rest of our trip may have been a bit uncomfortable!