Bananagrams Proposal

How we met: We both have different memories of when we first met. Caitie says that she first met me at a Halloween party hosted by a mutual friend in 2008. I was dressed up as a “creepy” flamingo and she was a “sexy” troll. We loved to dress up then, and love to dress up now. I use the word “creepy” because I had a pencil thin mustache like those stereotypical French characters in cartoons. It grows like that naturally, so pretty much any costume becomes creepy when I grow it out. Caitie remembers making some snide comment to me about my mustaches and she said that I brushed it off as a compliment, which seems like me.

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The first time I remember meeting Caitie was at Mom Fest I. Mom Fests are when someone among our friends brings their mom out to party. In this case, a teammate on my kickball team was celebrating her mom’s birthday at a huge estate in Montecito. It was a carnival theme with a petting zoo, rides, and delicious carnival food. There was also a photo booth where we ended up taking a bunch of group photos. It is the first photographic evidence of our meeting.

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Fast forward several months to Mom Fest II. This time, a different friend’s mom came out to a park for his 30th birthday. We BBQed, played sloshball (a version of kickball where people have beers in their hand), and just hung out having a good time.

While neither of these events were very close to each other, what links this all together is that we had a mutual friend who knew us from two different kickball leagues in town. Caitie played on Tuesday nights and I played on Thursday nights. Following Mom Fest II, I began to push him and another friend to bring her around more often. There were a few other guys who had their eyes on her, so I put the pressure on myself to ask her out on a date. I asked her out over facebook chat (I know that’s embarrassing). We had our first date the day after St. Patrick’s Day 2009 (not recommended) at a German restaurant (again, not recommended). I ordered a schnitzel, she ordered salmon. She talked the whole time, I listened. We have been going strong ever since.

How I asked: Let me start this out by saying that Caitie does not ask very much of me, but we were sitting on the couch one day and she said to no one in particular that she knows that when I propose, it will be amazing. I guess she had been talking with friends about it, and it was on her mind. So immediately I felt all of this pressure on my back. She knew something was coming because I was finishing up my graduate degree in marine biology and trying to figure out where we would go with our future.

Just like Caitie is no diva, I am far from traditional or cliche. I am not the type of guy to get on a knee at sunset on a beach in Mexico, a place we were headed for the holidays. I wanted to do something unique and memorable. So the brainstorming began, but first I wanted to get her parent’s permission just incase they were traditional, which they are not. I was presenting part of my thesis at a conference in San Diego where her parents live, so I decided to ask during that trip. We were at dinner and mid-bite, I break the news. Her mom’s eyes light up and her dad spits his taco out on the table. I got their blessings and called my brother and his girlfriend on my drive home to brainstorm.

During that brainstorming session, Bananagrams came up. Caitie is one of the most competitive people we know, so we knew that her attention would be 100% on the game (and we were right). I had already picked out a ring from my mom that belonged to my great-great grandmother on her side. It was a simple, but beautiful platinum heirloom ring. Probably around 100 years old.

So I decided to disguise the engagement by having it during my 10th annual “Friendsgiving” the Sunday before real Thanksgiving. The first person I told was my best friend and former roommate of 8 years who had just moved to San Francisco. He didn’t even hesitate and said he would be there to help. Then I told another person, and another person, and another person. I couldn’t help my self. I was so excited. Next thing I knew, 15 or so people knew what was about to go down. I assigned them all some sort of task from camera man to distractor.

We cooked up 3 turkeys and had around 60 people packed into our apartment. Some of my co-conspirators convinced Caitie to play Bananagrams. Caitie, being a board game junkie, could not refuse. The girls sat on either side of us, and her coworkers, who were unaware of what was about to go down were also playing. I had all of the necessary Bananagrams tiles in my pocket to begin the game.

If it weren’t for the video, I would have no idea what happened next. Apparently I got an E on my initial draw and started to spell mArry with an E. My friend quickly noticed and slid an A my direction. Caitie, deep in game mode, didn’t even notice. After spelling out, “WILL YOU MARRY ME,” I needed to finish the game and win. One person gasps in the video and another says, “That is incredible.” I finally win, and Caitie proceeded to argue with me about how I’m playing the game incorrectly, so she goes back to playing her pieces.

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So not knowing what to do, I slide my chair away from the table and get down on a knee. She finally sees the tiles. Her reaction was priceless…

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