“Jackie, I would like to propose to your sister.”
And that is where it all began. When Shane told me that he wanted to propose to my sister, April, I was confused as to why he was telling me. He and April went out for dinner together to celebrate her new job and he started this conversation as soon as she went out for a phone call. Later on, I found out that I was the first person he told. Although Shane and April were not the most traditional couple out there, I was surprised that he did not ask my father for permission first. April and Shane had been together for almost five years at that point, so I suppose that everyone was waiting patiently for him to pop the question.
I must have looked confused when I turned to him and asked, “Why are you telling me?”
Shane laughed and sarcastically said, “It’s great to hear that you are excited!”
“Shane, don’t get me wrong, I am super happy for you both. That is great news.” I paused and pondered how to continue. Congratulating him was probably the most proper answer, but I was dumbfounded by his statement. He did not sound nervous at all about revealing the news, it was the exact opposite of that. He sounded as if he needed a favor or something from me. “You just sounded weird when you told me. Did she pressure you into this?”
“No, not at all.” His denial was clearly genuine and I believed him, but I still knew something was going on. Shane and I were never particularly close, despite knowing each other for years.
I rubbed my forehead and as politely as possible, I asked, “Then what is going on? Do you need something from me?”
He smiled, pointed at me, and declared, “Aha, you are smarter than what I thought!”
I cautioned, “Don’t push it, Shane. If you need help, you’ll need to kiss my--”
He interrupted, “Sorry, I apologize. I’ll be nicer about this. After all, I am asking you for a favor.”
I glared at him and demanded, “Just tell me what you need. April might be coming back any second now.”
“You know April better than anyone. Heck, you know her better than me. So you should be able to help me plan the perfect proposal. I need you to brainstorm and tell me any ideas that you can think of. I need a plan and a place. I’ll take her to the perfect place and try my best to do this perfectly. It’ll be like a dream.”
As he was talking, I realized that he was right. If anyone knew April the best, that had to have been me. I knew a lot about her and a lot about how much of a hopeless romantic she was. She always talked about how she wanted to find her prince charming and apparently, for some strange reason, Shane was her dream guy. Somewhat reluctantly, I agreed to help him. Unfortunately for me, in the end, Shane seemed to dump all the work on me. It seemed like I would do everything except the proposing. Every time I had an idea, I made sure to run it by him. His response was always something like “that sounds great”, which was not at all helpful. I tried my best to indiscreetly find out what my sister envisioned for a proposal. Although it was very unpleasant for me, we watched a lot of romantic comedies together, almost all of which had proposals. When watching each movie, I asked her random questions about which dates and proposals she liked best.
The first time, she gushed, “Oh my gosh, I love how they do this. It’s in the rain and it’s also a miracle that the ring and its box weren’t damaged from it. Rain makes everything either super sad, dramatic, or romantic.”
I made a mental note that a casual, rainy day would be the perfect setting. Then she mentioned how lovely a proposal would be on a sunny day in Venice while on the water. Over the years, I had always said she was the most indecisive person I knew. That indecisiveness drove me crazy. More and more ideas for proposals were mentioned over time, all of which contradicted at least one of the other ideas. For ideal locations, besides Venice, she mentioned where the two first met, Paris, New York City, Los Angeles, Montreal, Tokyo, along with multiple other places. With each new location, I let Shane know whatever she had told me. Paris was the last place I had mentioned and led to perhaps one of the least helpful phone calls I have ever had.
“She mentioned Paris, which seems very unrealistic.” I told Shane over the phone one afternoon.
He asked, “Paris, Texas?”
“No, you moron. Paris, France. I really can’t believe that you have a Master’s degree.” I rolled my eyes and was amazed by how idiotic Shane was. “She mentioned three places in Paris. The Eiffel Tower, the Palace of Versailles, and also ‘in front of that one building I saw on Instagram’. When it comes to a Parisian proposal, I think it’s just unrealistic. Kind of impossible in fact. Plus she has also mentioned like a bazillion locations already,”
“We can make it happen, Jackie. It can’t be that difficult, right?”
I laughed and sarcastically said, “You’re right, we can make it happen. It wouldn’t be that difficult for us, as people, but not so much for our bank accounts. I’ll send you a text of how much it would all cost.” I found a photo of the expenses for a trip to Paris in the notes I had taken and sent it to Shane.“Have you received my calculations?”
Silence followed my statement and then he stuttered, “Yeah, I don’t think that’ll work.” I heard him clearing his throat before he questioned me further. “Do you have any other ideas?”
I answered, “Surprisingly, yes. Some of them are over a decade old though and I can’t remember what she said as a teenager.”
“If you remember fifty percent of what she said back then, that is good enough. I’ve gotta go, talk to you later.”
I rebuked,“Wait, Shane, you idiot. I can’t just--”
He excitedly said, “Bye, Jackie!”
Although he hung up, I yelled, “Dammit, Shane!”
April walked into the room and nervously asked, “Everything okay, sister?”
“Yeah, it’ll all be fine.” I groaned.“Just some tax people.”
“It sounded like you yelled Shane’s name though. Is there something you’re not telling me?” She looked at me suspiciously.
Trying my best to cover for Shane and myself, I stupidly replied, “I said ‘dammit, Maine’! They must have had the wrong number.”
She was obviously not fully convinced but she said, “Okay then. Also, does ‘The Notebook’ or ‘Titanic’ sound better for the next movie?”
I sighed and mumbled, “You choose, April. Surprise me.”
Many other plans were created before Shane and I devised a plan. The final plan was mostly the result of my brainstorming, but he had to take some of the credit. Months of planning were finally over with and I felt a huge sense of relief. We agreed that a spring evening in New York City’s Central Park would provide as perfect of a proposal as possible. The whole family agreed to accompany Shane, April, and I there. They wanted to be involved, so I wrote them into the notes I had written for the proposal. We all loved the thought of Shane proposing in front of the prettiest flowers in the park and surprising her. Two days after we arrived in New York, it was time.
I pulled Shane aside before everything was ready to go. I asked, “Are you ready?”
“Well, I’ve got the flowers, the ring, the suit, the speech, and you guys. So yeah, I’m ready.” His response sounded far from confident, but I pretended not to notice. I gave him a thumbs up and he was on his way to Central Park.
Soon after, I convinced my sister to dress up and get ready for dinner at a fancy restaurant, which was part of the plan. She put everyone a bit behind schedule due to how long it took her to get ready. After some time, I insisted, “You don’t need eye shadow, April. Our reservation is soon. We have to get going right now.”
She followed me outside to the car that was to drive us to the park and asked, “Why is everyone else away?”
“Not sure,” I shrugged. “I think they are all on their way there already.”
“Jackie, you’re shaking. Are you okay?”
I nervously grinned and said, “Yes, don’t worry. I’m just super hungry.”
My sister was surprisingly quiet during the trip to our destination. She looked like she was about to fall asleep, so I tapped her shoulder and managed to keep her awake. New York City traffic caused more of a delay than my sister getting ready, so I sent a text to Shane and told him that we were late. Based on his reply, it was obvious that he was not happy with us. Finally, after quite some time, we arrived.
“Jackie, why are we going into the park?” April was very confused as we walked over to where Shane was. Family and friends were there to greet us and each person gave April a red rose, her favorite type of flower. Her confusion seemed to increase, but she did not seem to mind it. After receiving over a dozen flowers, she walked over to Shane, who was waiting for her with a bouquet of roses.
She smiled and exclaimed, “Shane, this is so amazing! What’s going on?”
He gave her the bouquet and got down on one knee. All the time I spent on making this the perfect evening for the two suddenly felt worthwhile and I was becoming emotional. He grabbed her left hand and started his speech. “April, we’ve been together for a long time. When I first met you, I knew you would be someone special. As crazy as it sounds, I fell in love with you pretty much right away. We’ve had so many memorable, wonderful moments together. There have been good times and bad times, but that is normal in relationships and the good times have always outweighed the bad ones. The worst two months of my life were when we had to be apart, because I wasn’t able to be with you. I couldn’t hold your hand or kiss you. I missed you so much and from then on, I knew you are the thing that makes life beautiful. I love everything about you. I love the way you laugh when I tell a joke, even when it’s not funny. I love how your smile lights up a room. I love how peaceful everything is when I’m with you. I just love you so much and I can’t envision a life without you. I want to spend the rest of my life with you. So, April Marie Smith, will you marry me?”
April was clearly in shock, she was speechless. Honestly, I think I wanted to hear the answer more than anyone else there, including Shane. She hesitated for over a minute before finally saying, “Hmm, I don’t know. I need to think a bit more about it.”
I tried my best to not collapse and scream. I refused to stand around while my indecisive sister thought about the answer. Not knowing the answer to a simple yes or no question after over a minute of thinking angered me. I had spent so much time making sure everything went perfectly, so I wanted her to make up her mind.
“April, where are you going?” My sister shouted.
In frustration, I laughed and said the first thing that came to mind. I yelled, “I’m going to Paris!”