The day I whispered “Really?”

Nothing in life can prepare you for a giant, purple Teletubby.

So ‘tis the Turkey Season and guess what?  Thanksgiving is almost here!  In a mere few hours, I will be the proud owner of a turkey-stuffed belly while listening to some of my nieces and nephews probably screaming their little faces off while they play hockey with Uncle Pilot.

I know the last few posts have been a bit doom and gloom.  But hey, it’s stormy, pitch black and rainy outside, ‘natch as the Seattle November is, and it was doomy-gloomy-mood-inducing weather.

But not today, Precious Readers!  Today is upbeat, happy and exciting!

Picture it: A November 2009 Friday evening.  Pilot and I are at home in discussion to figure out how to spend our weekend.

Channeling my inner Sophia Petrillo… Golden Girls?  Anyone…?  Anyone…?

Me: Grocery shopping?

Pilot: Did it earlier in the week.

Me: Friends?

Pilot: [So-and-So] are busy, [What’s His/Her Face] are out of town, and so on.

Me: Hmm…  How about we go out of town?

Pilot: <perks up.> What did you have in mind?

Me: Want to go visit some old haunts?

Pilot: Sounds interesting

Me: Why not go over to Ellensburg? Visit the ol’ alma mater

Pilot: Let’s do this!

We agree to spend the day in Ellensburg, WA visiting Central Washington University. We’ll visit old hangouts and eat at some of our favorite places from our college days.

Did you know: the nice thing about Eastern Washington is, once you’re over Snoqualmie Pass, you’re really in more of a desert climate. The air is dry with 360 days of sunshine a year.

Don’t get me wrong, it can get freeze-your-ass-off cold there, but it’s always clear skies and sunny.

The next day, we hop into Grease Lightning (my white Jeep), we drive over to the other side of the state to reminisce about our past.  We arrive and grab some D&M Coffee.  Precious Readers, when-

I’m not accepting any “if’s” here.  I’m expecting you to go someday.  There is no chance for defense here.  I am instructing you to go.  (Just beware the rodeo and around CWU graduation-it’s a zoo during those times!)  As I was saying…

-when you go to Ellensburg, be sure to grab some D&M Coffee.  It is, by far, the best coffee I’ve ever had in my entire life.  And that’s a die-hard Seattleite talking to you.  Pilot recommends the Snickers Latte, while I tend to prefer the Milky Way Latte.

Pilot made the perfect suggestion of walking around the downtown portion.  Hand in hand, we wandered up and down the various blocks of privately owned retail space.  Excited for the new stores that popped up since I had graduated high school seven years prior, happy at the places that still existed which held special memories for us, and saddened by the businesses that closed down.

It’s amazing how many memories come flooding back from small instances, like a tree root that grew through the sidewalk that you trip over each time you walk on a certain block.  The house that’s covered in bike reflectors in a decorative way.

You should check it out; they have a “postcard” machine that allows you to take an image of the home with you.  It’s like a kid’s candy dispenser.  It’s awe-inspiring and hilarious at the same time.

We got back in the car and decided to drive to one of our most prized places of the city: the water tower.

The water tower stands tall, crowning the top of an enormous hill/cliff that overlooks everything in the city.  From the west you can see downtown Ellensburg, due north is CWU, east is residential area and directly at the base of the hill/cliff is the Ellensburg Rodeo arena.

Ellensburg basically lives in the base of a mountainous bowl.  No matter which direction you face, the mountains are in the distance, perfectly encasing the countryside in a circle.  We spent many an evening enjoying events at the rodeo for free from that spot, usually with a car-picnic of KFC.

Pilot and I parked on the hill/cliff and wandered to the edge of the hill, overlooking the city where we first met.  As we maneuver counter-clockwise around the top of the hill/cliff, Pilot stops to tie his sneakers.  I roll my eyes and sigh while moving on to look at the mountains in the distance.  Sneakers and Pilot are a longtime bane of my existence.

Precious Readers, to know me is to understand that I am a one of those Seattleites who wears flip-flops practically year-round.  My sandals are basically retired for 1.5 months, January through mid-February, only because those are the months they aren’t entirely functional.

Flip-flops rarely work on ice.

If it were up to me, our world would be covered in some kind of springy rubber or compact dirt and I would walk barefoot 24-hours a day.  I love being barefoot, especially on the (clean) beach.  The only time I wear close-toed shoes (and only if I’m in a meeting with external clients), is at work. Since I mostly handle data entry and internal-tools creation, I’m at my desk for most of the day, so I wear sandals to be comfortable.

I love working on the West Coast.

Pilot on the other hand, can’t stand feet in any way, shape, form or capacity.  I suspect Pilot inherited the gross-out reaction to feet from his father.  Actually, to this day, I don’t believe I have ever seen The Silver Fox (my father-in-law) without shoes or some other type of footwear.  And he always wears socks.

By the way, I didn’t even come up with that nickname on my own.  My father-in-law is called The Silver Fox at work.  No joke.

Anyway, Pilot has this habit of double-knotting his shoelaces, which repeatedly fail at keeping themselves knotted.

So needless to say, having Pilot take a few moments to tend to his shoes was a regular occurrence with us while we go through our typical song-and-dance:

Pilot: Go on ahead; I’ve got to tie my shoes.

Me: <rolls eyes.> Why not just get slip on shoes or loafers?

Pilot: Because those are better for short trips or driving, not for walking around.

Me: Why not get different shoelaces made of a better material that doesn’t come undone so often?

Pilot: <waves at me> Go on ahead. I’ll be right there.

Me: You could always wear flip flops like I do.

Pilot: <thins lips into a frown.> You know I think feet are gross.

Me: <puts hands on hips.> Then why did you marry someone who would rather live life barefoot?

Pilot: <points to my feet.> Because you have cute toes. Look at them! They’re purple, or often blue, or some other random color.  Doesn’t mean I like my own feet.  Or others.

Me: That doesn’t make sense. How can you think my toes are cute but hate feet?

Pilot: <smirks.> Don’t judge me.

Me: How can you hate feet?  That’s completely irrational.

Pilot: <waves at me again.> Go on ahead I’ll be right there.

Me: Whatever. <Continues on journey.>

Pilot: <bends to tend to his loosening sneakers.>

But back to our story…

Pilot and I are overlooking the city where we first met. Pilot stops to tie his sneakers.  I rolled my eyes and sighed while moving on to look at the mountains in the distance.

Pilot: Go on ahead; I’ve got to tie my shoes.

Me: <rolls eyes.> You could always wear flip flops like I do.

Pilot: <stoops to tie his sneaker.> Go on ahead. I’ll be right there.

Not wanting to go into bickering mode because I am way too fulfilled by nostalgia overload, I sigh, turning around to let him be, while I wander to the western side of the hill/cliff and look at Downtown Ellensburg.

Pilot: Katie…

I turn around and look a back at him.  Pilot is on the ground.  Does he see some kind of gardener snake or something?  Oh dear god, please don’t let him have found a snake.  Chances are it’ll be one of those rare occurrences we find an animal and it bites us.

I squint and realize he’s kneeling on the ground with a gray box in his hand.  His eyes wide and shiny as he gazes softly at me, looking slightly nervous as he opens the box.

I think to myself: He found a box?  Where the heck did that come fro-…?

<ding.> Lighbulb illuminates over my head.

My eyes nearly bug out of my head.

There’s a ring in that box.

Channeling Katie MacAlister’s novels, “I goggled at him.  There’s really no other way to put it.  I just goggled.”

Barely able to find my voice-

For those who have yet to figure out: It is damn-near impossible to render me completely and utterly speechless.

-I barely squeak out a small, hushed voice:

Me: …really?

Pilot: <gently nods.>

I run over and throw my arms around his neck and we kiss.

Pilot: <winks.>  Finally!  I was wondering when you would ever suggest a trip to Eburg.

Me: <pauses.>  What?

Pilot: You’re no fun to surprise. You always guess what’s going on.  I had to make it seem like your idea.

Me: <frowning.>  How long have you had that ring?

Pilot: A while.

Me: Explain ‘a while’.

Pilot: About a month. <pauses.>

Me: <narrows eyebrows.>

Pilot: What’s wrong?

Me: What would have happened if I hadn’t suggested this trip?

Pilot: I would have had to figure something else out.

Me: Let me get this straight. We could’ve been engaged for a month already?!

Pilot:  I love you.  <kisses my nose.>

Me: <scowling.> I hate you so much right now.

The world truly can stop.  It’s amazing.  There are moments in life when it can seem like its operating in slow motion.  A basketball hanging in the air before it swishes, the pause before someone kisses you, a moment of quiet during a life-changing moment.  Like this one.

After the world resumed its rotation on its axis and around the sun, I peer down at the ring in the box.  I can only stare at it and nothing else.

It is not an engagement ring.  It looks like a wedding band.

Confused, I ask Pilot what’s going on with the jewelry.

Pilot: It’s a “presentation ring.”

Me: What’s a presentation ring?

Pilot: It’s the ring you present that you’ll use during your wedding.

Me: I’ve never heard of such a thing.

Pilot: Oh, it’s a real thing.

Me: That doesn’t sound right.

Pilot: <stares at the ring for exactly 4 seconds.> Crap.

Me: What’s wrong?

Pilot: I knew that guy at the jewelry shop was full of it.

Me: <laughing.> It’s ok.  We’ll figure something out.

Pilot: When do you want to go exchange it?

Me: <look of contrition on face.> We don’t have to exchange it, it’s just… what would I wear then?

Pilot assures me it’s OK to go back and get an actual engagement ring.  We laugh recognizing we of like mind (as always), and are too excited to wait.  Since we had already toured the city for the most part, both us were determined to get the ring exchanged the same day.

Not moments after making this decision, we look to the east on the hill/cliff.  Something else has caught our eye.

There it stood.  A six foot four, life-size, purple Teletubby.

Now, if you’ve never heard of Teletubbies, they are lowest of the low of children’s entertainment.  I don’t understand any parent who subjects their kids to watch these inarticulate alien species hell bent on living under a baby sun god, who will likely grow up to be a serial killer as a result of his/her parents agreeing to let said baby work on the show.  That psychedelic acid trip of a children’s program hosts one of the strangest main characters I’ve ever seen.

And they frighten the shit out of me.

There was a small group of three college students.  Some guy wearing a purple Teletubby costume, complete with mascot-sized, purple Teletubby head, another guy holding some sort of fancy sound equipment and a third with a video camera.

I slowly look back at Pilot.

Me: Either they’re working on some sort of weird art project, or that guy lost a bet.

Thus ending the story of the day Pilot and I got engaged.

For those girls out there wondering what we picked, it’s a white gold, low-profile setting-

Do I really want the ring snagging all my clothes or taking out chunks of my hair? I don’t think so.

-with a band that looks like its split lengthwise.  Pilot and I were both born in September, so we have the same birthstone.  The gemstone is an oval, horizontally oriented, pale blue sapphire (almost looks light purple) and small diamonds on either side of the sapphire.

Looking at it, it kind of looks like a blue-eyed eyeball, (but in a really gorgeous, feminine and delicate manner).

It was unique, special.  The same as our engagement experience.

Pilot: <raises eyebrows.> We really can’t have anything be normal, can we?

Me: Apparently not.

Pilot: <closes eyes.> If anyone doubts that God has a sense of humor, wait’ll they hear this one.

Me: <kisses Pilot’s frown away.> Well, at least we’ll never forget it.

By the way, we both still think a ’presentation ring’ is bullshit.  Guys we’re talking to you.  Don’t get sold by a salesman. GET AN ENGAGEMENT RING.  Shiny, not shiny, bedecked with jewels, or simple tastes, new or antique-GET AN ENGAGEMENT RING.  You will avoid confusion with your partner.

In the end, Pilot really did pick the perfect ring.  It was perfect, I suspect (perhaps subconsciously?) Pilot knows I love to experience everything with him.  That I would want to share that moment of finding it.

We selected the soon-to-be-permanent-fixture-to-my-hand the same way we do everything else in our relationship.


So, Precious Readers, there you have it.  I hope you enjoyed the story of the day Pilot and I became engaged.  Nothing beats a story of a buddy-comedy/romance/road trip adventure/Freakishly huge, purple Teletubby.  Am I right?

If you visit (AND LIKE!) my Facebook Author Page, you can see a posted picture of it there.

What was a tender, milestone-life-moment of yours that was randomly interrupted by a moment of someone else’s insanity?  Or were you the unexpected surprise in someone’s “moment”?  Would love to hear from you!  Leave a comment or share a story!

Hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving!

<gobble, gobble.>

2 thoughts on “The day I whispered “Really?”

  1. I absolutely LOVE it! 😀 Such a great engagement story.
    We got engaged two weeks after meeting… walking at midnight at Nathan Philip’s square in Toronto. We just didn’t want the day to end. My husband turned to me and said, “We should get married.” I said, “We should.” He said, “Okay, then.” I said, “Wait, are we engaged?”


  2. Thanks, Patty! My parents’ engagement was very similar while they were driving down a road! 🙂 Pilot and I had been together for 7 years already, so most of the responses we received were along the lines of: “About time” or “Finally?” LOL. Guess it’s not much of a surprise when people have been together that long. Personally, I’ve never really needed a piece of paper, but Pilot and our families are more traditional. Me, not so much. Since your hubby proposed, is he the more traditional one in your relationship, or are you both that way?


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