Erin and I have been twirling invisible moustaches and giggling madly under our respective breaths for the past two weeks now, because we've been scheming, deviously. Our friend Nicole has been dating her boyfriend Evan for six years now, and even though they're not technically engaged, she's already started planning the wedding...well, after all, he's in the Navy, so if you're dealing with a Navy schedule, it's important to plan ahead. I'm sure after awhile Evan was starting to feel like Nicole had it all figured out, so he turned to Erin and I for a little help to make sure his proposal was spectacular.
"Well," I mused as Erin and I pow wow'd on a break about two weeks ago, drinking coffee, "We could see if we could sneak him into the Capitol Ball..."
The Capitol Ball is an event CW has once or twice a week. It's held at the Capitol, and the group is taken through several different rooms. In the first room is a hysterical puppet show, the second room features period singing by some of the men of the town (nothing truly bawdy, alas, but the last time I was there I did recognise "Roast Beef of Old England"), and the third room has the dancing.
I called up the person in charge of evening programs. Could this happen? He laughed and said "why not" and told me to call the person in charge of the Ball. She was sort of taken aback when I explained what we wanted to happen, but warmed to the idea quickly. Erin, on the other hand, relayed information to Evan about when to arrive, where to arrive and--oh yes, if he could just send her his measurements, she'd try to get a costume for him...? Thank God for the kindness of the CW family...we managed to pull this together in about a week. Our incomparable boss's boss even pulled a costume for Erin less than two hours after getting the groom's measurements.
We arrived in the historical area early enough to make a round at one of the Christmas parties put on by a CW vice-president. All I can say is: watch out for the artillery punch. Then we crossed the street and headed over to the Capitol. Erin, Nicole and Barrett, another Navy guy who knew Erin, warmed themselves by the fire as I quietly conferred with the woman in charge of the program--who I'd only spoken to on the phone twice. "Everything okay?" I said. "Yup. They're all excited in there," she said, and we raised our voices about the weather, so as not to cause any undue alarm.
The puppet show was funnier than I remembered--maybe it was the players, or maybe just the artillery punch--and the singing was more enjoyable too. We were in a group with about a dozen people, mostly couples wearing evening clothes who had come from the CW taverns. ("Taverns" meaning five-star restaurants in this case, not "taverns" like wood-paneled bars back home.) When we got to the room where the dancing was held, Nicole, Erin and I all exclaimed over the dancers...they all had on their finest gowns, silk with miles of trim and decorations, gowns we had seen hanging on mannequins for weeks as they were trimmed. Nicole and I whispered together about the way the light caught the ruffles and rouches, but in the back of my mind my heart was pounding wildly...
Then the dancing was declared closed and the dancing master thanked Lady Dunmore for her graciousness. But Lady Dunmore rose and said "I understand there is a young man who has a pressing question for a member of the company...?" and the dancing master said "oh! yes!" and quickly ran through the door at the back of the room. Evan appeared, resplendent in a dark cream coloured coat and waistcoat, with chocolate breeches and a gold-trimmed hat. It took a second for Nicole to recognise him, and then I felt her nails dig into my arm. Somehow she managed to get to her feet and walk towards him, and then he uttered words of eternal love, dropped to one knee and proposed.
Nicole said yes, of course.
Erin and I applauded, cried a little and sighed, happy we had pulled it off--more than happy that we hadn't been rumbled in the past week. The CW company gave three hearty hip hip huzzahs! while the guests looked on bemused...then we were sweeping out into the cold night air. The guests congratulated the happy couple and disappeared, and we were surrounded by silks and satins, all the CW folk hugging and congratulating, Erin and I thanking everyone as sincerely as we could. It was too cold to linger very long, but we did manage another round of huzzahs.
All in all, a very splendid proposal, I think. A lot of fun to plan--and a fun night. I'm glad we could make it special for them. Congratulations!