I met Jeremy at the P-rade, which is an endlessly long festival of Princeton alumni from each class year marching to the tunes of high school bands and drunken revelers. I was wearing a rather loud black and orange shirt with a tiger on it, and was talking to Zach Pincus-Roth, our mutual friend. Jeremy walked over, and the two of us got into a long conversation about many topics neither of us remembers. A year later, Zach (our matchmaker with plenty of helpful encouragement from me) told Jeremy to ask me out. Jeremy sent me an email to see if I wanted to "grab dinner sometime."
I met Nina at Princeton Reunions in 2005. We had a really nice conversation, but we were both in other relationships at the time. Then a year later we weren't, and Zach told me to ask Nina out. So I did, via the best way of asking people out on dates: e-mail. Before meeting Nina I was sad. Now I am not.
Our first date lasted 8 hours. We started in Park Slope at the Brooklyn Museum. I carefully chose this venue for two reasons: 1) I didn't want Jeremy to realize how far Stony Brook really is from NYC, and 2) because I thought physical objects would give us natural conversation topics. We left the museum after our mutual disinterest in art was revealed, and walked around Prospect Park for hours. Jeremy then nonchalantly inquired as to whether I wanted to have dinner. We ate at Miriam in Park Slope, and later walked back to Jeremy's apartment so he could give me his only advance copy of his novel (that's how I knew he was really interested!).
I was relieved that Nina suggested we go to the museum on our first date, because it took the pressure off of me to come up with something to do. We were pretty much the only people in the museum, and I am a terrible museum-goer because I hate to read the placards and end up rushing through. I tried really hard to pretend to be interested in whatever we were looking at, but I'm really bad at pretending so I probably wasn't very convincing. From the very beginning it seemed like we had known each other much longer than we had, and it was really easy to be around Nina. I hadn't expected the date would be so long -- but neither of us seemed to really want it to end. Although part of me wanted it to end because I kind of had to go to the bathroom. But it was worth it.
I was expecting Jeremy to propose on our two-year anniversary, which was Monday the 26th. So when he offered to meet me for lunch out by Stony Brook after my Internal Medicine finals the previous Friday, I thought he was just setting the tone for a romantic weekend. The tests went longer than they were supposed to, so I was an hour late and kind of stressed when I met Jeremy for lunch. The restaurant was fancier than I expected, but I still didn't think anything was up.
During lunch, Jeremy was acting a little strange. I wanted to go to the gym on the way home, but he kept insisting I shouldn't, and that he didn't want to be waiting alone in my apartment -- I'd given him a key so he could drop off dinner for that night on his way out to Stony Brook. He said he wanted to go to the gym with me, which didn't make any sense, but I agreed to go back to my apartment first.
I arrived back at my apartment before Jeremy, and saw that he had left two dozen red roses in a vase. The card said "To Nina; From Hippo," which I thought was cute -- Hippo was a stuffed animal he had given me when we first started going out. And then I noticed he had done all of my dishes, which was really romantic since I don't have a dishwasher.
I changed into my gym clothes, and then Jeremy arrived, and he was sweating and seemed really nervous. I thanked him for the flowers, and he said they weren't from him, and maybe we should ask Hippo about them. At this point I thought he had lost his mind. He walked over to Hippo, and pulled out a ring box!
Of course I said yes. And then I still went to the gym!
I knew Nina was expecting me to propose on our two-year anniversary, but I thought it would be too awkward to spend the whole weekend in anticipation and worrying about having a diamond ring in my pocket, so I decided to jump the gun and propose a few days early. Originally I had an elaborate plan in mind that involved our families, and proposing in Brooklyn where we had our first date, but I ended up deciding it might be nice to surprise Nina with a nice lunch near Stony Brook and then propose back in her apartment afterwards. When I dropped off the roses and ring in her apartment, I noticed all of her dirty dishes were in the sink. I figured it would be nice to not have to do dishes right after we got engaged, so I washed them before I left.
At lunch, Nina started talking about how she wanted to go to the gym, and buy a new pair of sandals, and that she could just meet me back at her apartment and I could take a nap. Because I like naps. But I knew the flowers and the ring were there, so I tried to play it cool but still come up with a reason why she'd need to go back to her apartment first. I was pretty sure she didn't sense anything even though it was unusual for me to say I wanted to go to the gym with her.
She beat me back to her apartment because I followed the Google Maps directions. I thought the flowers and the card were going to give it away, and that she would have already found the ring, so I was nervous when I walked in, unsure if she'd figured it out. I walked over to Hippo, pulled out the ring box, and proposed.
She said yes, and then she went to the gym.
It was a really strange day. I was fast asleep on Nina's bed when Jeremy unexpectedly came in with a whole bunch of flowers, and some chicken. I was very confused. At first I thought the flowers were for me -- or at least I hoped the chicken was for me -- but he put the flowers in a vase and the chicken in the refrigerator and didn't even really say hello to me at all. Then he washed all the dishes that Nina had left in the sink, which I thought was very nice of him. I had thought about doing the dishes myself, but I'm not tall enough to reach the sink.
Then Jeremy took a ring box out of his backpack and that's really where it got strange. He came over to me and it seemed like he was trying to give me the ring -- even though I like Jeremy, I'm certainly not ready to get married, and especially not to a human -- but it turned out he just wanted to hide it under my belly. I did my very best not to move for the hours and hours between when he left and when Nina returned, alone, because Jeremy had taken the Southern State instead of the Northern State. If I had a nickel for every time I told someone not to take the Southern State on a Friday afternoon, I'd be the richest hippo in Nina's apartment.
So Nina came in, saw the flowers, but didn't see me (or the ring!). Then Jeremy came in, acting really strange, and reached under my belly, pulled out the ring box, and proposed to Nina. Of course she said yes. And then I called all my friends on my cell phone and told them all about it!