The proposal

At dinner on Christmas Eve, suspecting nothing.

Big news: I’m getting married! My boyfriend, George, proposed on Christmas Eve. If you’re in your early 20s, you probably know three or four people who got engaged last week. I have three newly engaged friends and it’s not even New Year’s Eve. I admit I’ve rolled my eyes a few times at “engagement season.” But George lives in Kansas and we don’t get to see each other very often, so Christmas was the right time and the cliche is just collateral damage.

For the wedding stalkers out there, here’s a briefing on my fiancé and the proposal. For those of you who just couldn’t care less about this stuff, I promise to put together a non-wedding post soon.

The fiancé

George showing off the ring before dinner.

George is a middle school social studies teacher and football coach in Kansas. We met at KU through a mutual friend and started dating about three and a half years ago, right after he finished his bachelor’s degree. We’ve been doing the long-distance thing since summer 2010, when he landed a job about four hours from Lawrence, and now we live about nine hours apart. George’s parents are both Aggies, and so was his maternal grandfather — his Corps boots are on display in his mom’s house. George is named after his fraternal grandfather, who was married to a delightful woman named Sara until he passed away earlier this year. We hope we can live up to our namesakes, the original George and Sarah(h) Shannon.

So here’s what happened

The ring

I’d been looking forward to going on vacation with George’s family — his mom, stepdad, and five brothers — since we booked the cruise about six months ago. We left the port of New Orleans on Dec. 22, spent one great day at sea, and then spent Christmas Eve in Cozumel, Mexico. We snorkel (OK, George and I skipped the snorkeling and just swam around drinking Corona near the boat), shop, and return to the ship for an incredible dinner with the family. After dinner, George’s mom says we have 45 minutes to do whatever we want before meeting up to take some pictures.
I want to go back to our room and lay down, but George insists we walk around on the deck. I start feeling nauseous (or nauseated if you’re one of those people) and headed to the bathroom to wait it out. Not realizing what he has planned, I take my time in there, splashing my face with water and fixing my hair for about 10 minutes. He wonders if making him wait is my way of showing that I’m on to him. It’s not.
George takes me to the highest deck on the ship because he’s heard the stars look spectacular from the middle of the ocean, and chicks love looking at the stars. We climb up there and I think to myself, “Is he about to propose?” Then I laugh out loud because I know I’m being absurd. George had made it very clear that he didn’t plan to propose on the cruise because he didn’t have the money for a ring, and could we please just focus on enjoying our vacation?  He’d spent two months on what he calls a psychological campaign to lower my expectations.

Once we’re on the top deck, we realize the ship’s lights are blocking out any trace of starlight, and the 40 mph winds kept threatening to blow my dress over my head. We go back down to the main deck and he starts talking about how much fun we’ve had on the cruise so far. It sounds a lot like the speech he gave the first time he told me loved me. I start to suspect something’s up, but I dismiss it because that psychological campaign is really effective.
Finally, George says something like this: “I miss you when you’re not around — and you know I don’t usually miss anyone. You’re my best friend. We’ve been through so much and we always end up together. I wish you could be around all the time.” So I tell him I, too, wish I could be around all the time. And I wonder to myself why he’s being so weird.

How I spent Christmas Day. few minutes later, a contingent of George

“No, I don’t think you understand,” he says. And he pulls out something shiny. Is that a ring? He just kind of stares at me for a second, so I blurt out — and this is why you really can’t take me anywhere — “Holy shit, really?”
I start to cry. I don’t know why I’m crying. “So, are you going to marry me or what?” George asks. “Yeah,” I say, sort of of snatching the ring out of George’s hand and sliding it on my own finger. Then I realize that’s his job. Oops.
We still had one more day at sea — and it was Christmas, which meant presents. I won $100 on a scratcher ticket in my stocking, so we’re using it to start our wedding fund. We were still in international waters when George proposed, so I couldn’t call family and friends until late Christmas night. That was killer.
We also had a whole day to spend in New Orleans before heading to Dallas to show all the grandmothers my new ring. I’ve officially had the best vacation of my life, and now it’s time to go back to work.

What’s next
At some point, we’ll have to live in the same city, so George will start looking for jobs in the B/CS area. We’re planning to get married sometime in the summer of 2013, at some Catholic church in Kansas or Texas. I’ve already forbidden the following abominations: Cha-cha slide, YMCA, Cupid Shuffle, Chicken Dance, Electric Slide, Cotton-Eyed Joe, Soulja Boy, The Dougie. That’s about all we know for now.


  1. After looking at this story again, I have reaffirmed my belief that I am the least photogenic person on the planet.


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