Although it has been 23 years this month since I married Marti, it has been 27 years since I first fell in love with her.
The night we became engaged we went to the Utah Symphony, then back to her house. While we were sitting on the couch together I pulled a ring from my pocket and, without words, slyly slipped it into her hand. She said, "Yes, yes, yes." Then we went into her parents' bedroom, and Marti said, "Wake up, please," and made the formal announcement.That was a very memorable night for me, and I have had warm, romantic feelings about it ever since. But the process was pretty straight forward. I didn't hire a helicopter to pull a banner across the sky proclaiming my everlasting love in public. I didn't take out an ad in the newspaper. I didn't send a singing telegram. In fact, none of those flamboyant techniques even occurred to me.
That's why it was especially interesting when Christina Halliday from the Five Alls Restaurant on Foothill Drive in Salt Lake City related to me some of the techniques that have been used by their patrons.
The restaurant has a reputation as a quiet, romantic retreat, and since there are as many as six courses served, there is ample time for romance to develop. The combination of the old English food, the classical music, the open window at sunset and subdued lighting causes men in love to do strange things.
The most memorable was a man who arranged to have a costume delivered to the restaurant before he arrived. One friend was assigned to record everything with a video camera, while another was prepared to play the trumpet. The waitress was asked to deliver the diamond ring on a velvet pillow.
At the appointed time, this man excused himself and changed into a king's costume, then triumphantly returned carrying a scroll containing his date's name in calligraphy. He read from the scroll, the trumpet sounded, the ring appeared on the pillow, and the event was properly recorded on video. Lisa, his betrothed to be, was embarrassed, but she accepted. It was the most elaborate engagement ever recorded at the Five Alls.
On average there are two engagements there every month, and four or five on Valentine's Day. Many of those people return to the restaurant to celebrate their anniversaries, sometimes from far-away places.
The men who engage in these antics are unquestionably extroverts. One put the ring in his ear, hoping his fiancee-to-be would notice it with delight. She didn't. Another put the ring in the clam dip. Another in a goblet of water. The restaurant avoids placing it in food for fear there will be a broken tooth.
The most popular procedure is to have a waitress bring the ring out at dessert time.
The Five Alls serves a dessert plate with macaroons, and once the ring was included on the plate. The only problem was that the woman declined the macaroons, forcing the waitress to apply some pressure. "I really think you should have some macaroons!" She finally did and found the ring.
Invariably, the men who do this request a secluded table in a corner or by a window at sunset. But they do not care if the proposal becomes a public event. Some of them even drop to their knees to make the proposal official. The women DO care, are terribly embarrassed, often cry (out of happiness, I presume), but almost always accept. What else could they do under such public scrutiny?
At least one has refused the proposal. A man put a very large diamond on the table, and the woman turned it down, despite the public spectacle.
Most men who do this are quite sure that the answer will be yes. Sometimes the question has been popped before the couple even arrive at the restaurant. One woman even got into the act by arranging for the restaurant to bring out a cake at the appropriate time with the words, `Yes, yes, yes."
According to Christina Halliday, waiters and waitresses are about evenly divided as to whether engagements should begin in such a public way. Some waitresses say they would love it, while others are adamant that they would be embarrassed beyond belief and would unhesitatingly reject the ring.
As for me, I still prefer that quiet living room. I'm a private person, I guess. But if you are a public person, the Five Alls will help you make it a big deal.