02 April 2009

A Brooklyn Bridge Proposal

Jenna and I laughed out loud this morning. I proposed at midnight New Year's Eve in an almost-seedy West Village jazz club, Arthur's Tavern, as the band played Auld Lang Syne and balloons fell from the ceiling and harried waitresses spilled cheap champagne from plastic cups on the shirtsleeves of sotted revelers. But I carried that diamond ring with me all day in case a better opportunity presented. And I almost proposed at two in the afternoon that last day of 2006. It was 45 degrees, sunny, mild, blue skies--completely beautiful. We stood in the middle of the Brooklyn Bridge and saw the whole skyline. I thought "This could be it--this could be as opportune as it gets." And I started to look for my moxy.

But Jenna is a touch afraid of heights, and the bridge catwalk, through which we could see the water below, did nothing to calm her nerves. "I can't look," she kept saying, and "Come on." The way she gripped my elbow as we crossed, I just knew no matter how perfect and memorable that deep knee bend might have been, there was no way I was putting a ring into those trembling fingers. No matter how many times it played in my mind, the result was the same: we both watch in horror as the ring tinks off iron grating and flashes once in the midday sun before disappearing into the East River forever.

So I kept the ring in my pocket and tempered my nerves, convinced myself that a surprise NYC New Year's Eve proposal would be memorable enough without all the horror and drama captured in this couple's story. Later, as we jostled and knocked about in a dark bar and tipsy strangers hugged each other for the new year, and I prepared to say the words and hold the box out to her, I recalled the afternoon catwalk and worried what might happen should the ring slip even in the relative safety of the indoors. I could only picture how it might get kicked across the sticky floor and lodge under a banquette to be lost until the next renovation. Happily, of course, that did not happen. That night after we left the bar, I told her about that moment on the bridge. She confirmed that, picturesque as it was, the Brooklyn Bridge invited an engagement disaster.

And this guy who dropped the diamond managed to recover it on the roadway below. Lucky schmuck. Thank goodness he wasn't out in the middle.