Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Chapter Three

Faced with the prospect of winning the contest and proposing to Nathalie in ten days put me in a daze for the rest of the afternoon. I stopped by Karen's office the next day to sign the release forms for the contest.

I imagined how it would unfold... I would keep this whole thing a secret until the day of the game. Then I'd tell Nathalie that someone at work had given me some Saints football tickets and we would go. At half time, the announcer would call our names, asking us to come down to the 50 yard line with 9 other couples. And a very nervous me and a very confused Nathalie would walk down the stadium. Once we were all gathered, the announcer would read my winning poem, the host would hand me a diamond ring, I would propose to Nathalie (who would have figured out what was going on by this point), she would say yes, everybody would cheer, yadda yadda yadda.

Except... except... except that due to legal reasons and liability and other legal brouhaha, Karen informs me that Nathalie has to come in and sign the release forms as well.

Well, that ruins the surprise.

So I let Nathalie in on the contest, had her sign the release of liability forms, and we waited nervously as the day of the football game slowly drew near.

I couldn't get this contest off of my mind. Neither could Nathalie. We kept telling ourselves that win or lose, nothing would change. But if we lost, we'd be happy for the winners and not be sore losers. We decided to keep this contest a secret between us. We'd tell everyone after we won. If we won. Of course we were going to win.

Then I realized I had to do what needed to be done. So at the Christmas party at Nathalie's parent's house, I went up to Nathalie's mom as the party was getting started.

"Helene, I need to speak to you and Jim."

She immediately knew what I needed to talk about. She had been waiting to hear those words from my mouth. She quickly ushered us towards the back patio, calling for her husband. "Jim! Come to the porch!"

Nathalie's dad was busy with the fireplace. "JIM!!!" Nathalie went to shoo him towards the back porch, then went off to give the three of us some privacy, but I could see her peeking in from across the living room.

I had the distinct feeling in the pit of my stomach that I had only once before. That, being the time I jumped off of a 50 foot cliff on a dare during a Boy Scout camping trip.

I sat across from Helene and Jim and spilled out my heart. I talked about how much I love Nathalie, and how happy she makes me. I talked about how lucky I am to have met such a wonderful woman, and how she feels about me. About us. About our future. I talked about how I want to spend the rest of my life making her happy, because I live to see her smile.

I then quietly asked them for their blessing and for Nathalie's hand in marriage.

Helene hugged me, "Yes! Yes! Yes!"

I held out my right hand towards Jim. He brushed my hand away and drew me into his embrace. I disappeared into the arms of a mountain of a man. "I'd be honored," he said quietly. I've never felt more at home.

Four days later, Nathalie and I were standing on the football field at the Superdome. Halftime. The roar of the crowd was deafening. The announcer began to read the winning poem.