Monthly Archives: July 2011
We finally checked into Privé (which by the way is translated as “Private” in Dutch), where the waitress had been expecting us to return to reclaim our belongings.
I had called the restaurant earlier and asked for the best and most “privé” seats in the house, explaining that it would be our first meal together as an engaged couple. I also asked if Privé had any special arrangements for birthday celebrations.
The manager ushered us to the end of the restaurant, where it felt exclusive and quiet (and certainly “privé), and we commenced our alfresco dinner. We treated ourselves to:
- Organic Mushroom Soup garnished with White Truffle Oil, Mascarpone & Parmesan Crisp
- Seared Squid & Jumbo Prawn with Wild Rocket & Basil Sauce
- Braised French Duck Leg with Pearl Barley Risotto, Blood Orange Segments & Spiced Duck Jus
- Pan Roasted White Cod with Haricots Vert, Virgin Cherry Tomatoes, Almond Flakes & Herbs Beurre Blanc
- Hoegaarden (for me) and Watermelon Juice (for her)
As we waited for the food to arrive, I showed her the self-composed lyrics of my Chinese song and explained the meaning to her. I also described the process of producing the ring, the coordination required for today and the amount of dedication that the crew put in for us, amongst many other things.
She admired the ring and was still taking in full effects of the life-changing hour that just whizzed her by. She didn’t say much, but her absolutely contented smile spoke volumes for me.
Before the food arrived, I asked Huiyi to call her family to tell her what happened. At this point in time, only Xianyi in the Lee clan knew that there would an engagement party later.
So even as Huiyi was regaling the recently-concluded proposal to her parents, Huiyi and her parents had absolutely no idea that there was going to be part two.
I asked Xianyi to only tell his parents about the engagement party after Huiyi’s phone call. Yes, I left absolutely nothing to chance.
While Huiyi was on the phone, I approached the restaurant manager to ask if they had an iPhone charger in the premise. The evening wasn’t over and I desperately needed to charge my iPhone with only 4% of battery power remaining. Coordination work wasn’t over and I needed to power up!
When the food arrived, we prayed together for the first time as fiance and fiancée and gave thanks for the food. It was a special moment indeed. And we took our time to enjoy the delectable food.
She was thoroughly surprised and completely grateful for the extravagant proposal. She thanked me profusely for all the effort I put in. I smiled and acknowledged. She’s the only one that I’d do it for.
But she had no idea that the evening wasn’t over…
Next chapter: the drive back to Lakeholmz.
Time for you and I to catch our breaths! *phew!*
At this time, I’d like to invite you to see this proposal story through my fiancée’s eyes.
I’ve always enjoyed reading Huiyi’s insights. After all, she is a lady of few words so when she writes, I simply savour her every word!
- Before all of this happened,
- She was expecting this.
- Then this happened in daylight,
- And at night, this took place.
Huiyi’s mini-series contains a delightful climax in itself, so do read it in sequence to fully enjoy it! (:
So there you go, four different entries by my fiancée for your reading pleasure before we head into the final act of the proposal story!
I finished the song, put my guitar away, and asked her to turn around to see the other five placards behind her. Yes, she was still in shock. (Wouldn’t you, if you were her?) I reveled at her reaction, knowing that my Perth decoys worked to perfection.
Yes, I knew in my heart that the grand surprise proposal was a smashing success! It was worth every inch and ounce of effort put in! What a spectacular result that went beyond my expectations!
I gave her a little over three seconds to savour the moment.
Then I dropped to one knee, removed the engagement ring from the ring box and popped the question. I had rehearsed this a million times but something like this is beyond anyone’s preparation.
I had always wanted to be unique in the way that I phrased the million-dollar question but I thought, “Ah, what the heck, let’s keep it simple and straightforward!”
So I simply asked her, “Will you be my wife?”
(At this point, Yvonne was nodding away furiously as if to egg Huiyi on…)
Huiyi paused, and knowing her, she probably had a billion inner conversations in her head in that two seconds. Then she looked at her three placards and bashfully told me, “YES!”
This was the happiest moment of my life! Of course I beamed to no end – I was delirious!
Huiyi stretched out her left hand towards me. I remained on one knee and I put the most beautiful ring in the world on the most beautiful finger in the world that belonged to the most beautiful lady in the world – an absolutely magnificent moment!
By now, I was completely drenched. So Huiyi put aside the orange umbrella, stepped into the rain with me, brought me back to my feet, held my hands, kissed my lips, and gave me the longest and most assuring embrace I could ever ask for. With that, she convinced me that I was the man whom she was going to spend the rest of her life with.
This was it! We were now officially engaged and probably the happiest couple on the face of this planet!
We enjoyed our long walk back to Privé and exchanged some banter along the way. Huiyi was still in shock – so most of what we did was to smile, and smile, and smile, and smile, and repeatedly declare our love for each other in the simplest ways.
We returned to the clubhouse in complete bliss. There, we thanked the crew for their hard work and dedication, and parted ways with them. Gideon and Caleb were soaked to their undergarments; they went all the way for us and we will always be grateful for their critical roles in capturing our engagement.
“Thanks everyone – see you this weekend!” We bade them farewell as they disappeared into the elevator while as we sashayed into Privé.
Next chapter: the first meal together as an engaged couple.
The walk from the clubhouse to the pier must have been at least around 600 metres. We took nearly 12 minutes to get there. By then, my right arm carrying the heavy umbrella was about to give way and my left arm carrying Huiyi’s bag was completely drenched.
It was such a long walk that I had to reassure her countless times that we were about to arrive. The further we walked, the heavier the rain poured and the darker the sky became. In my mind, my hope for a sunset vanished with every passing minute.
And you know the sunset is over when the street lamps start to glow.
By the time we arrived at the pier, the placards had already lost its adhesive power to remain on the railings. Yvonne improvised and leaned these placards along the railings instead. She looked like a cartoon character carrying a blue polka-dotted umbrella, guarding a $3,000 guitar and five placards that read, “Will You Marry Me? / 让我照顾你”. All this, by herself, as she waited for nearly 30 minutes.
When we finally arrived at the scene, I whispered “Hold the umbrella and enjoy the music, dear!” loudly into Huiyi’s ear. Then I strapped on my guitar and reached into my pocket for my plastic pick. I made a final mental run-through of the chord progression and the Chinese lyrics.
I looked at my iPod and realised that it was still playing the third song so I skipped that track and moved to the fourth song immediately – the original version of 让我照顾你. I left the song to play for just one minute (so that Huiyi would register it in her head), then I pressed “Next track”.
At long last, Huiyi was listening to my version of 让我照顾你
I signaled to Gideon and Caleb that Huiyi’s blindfold would be removed in less than two minutes. And they got into position. I decided to give Yvonne the honour of removing the blindfold. And she took her place beside Huiyi.
They were ever-ready. I was more than ready. This was it already!
On my cue, Yvonne proceeded to lift Huiyi’s blindfold.
Huiyi finally regained sight and had all of five seconds to take in what was going on around her – the venue, the rain, the crew, the guitar, the three “YES!” placards Yvonne slotted into her hands, the drama of the moment… And her fiancé-to-be standing in the rain, ready to belt out the song of their courtship.
EVERYTHING led up to this moment.
If you know me well enough, I would never do anything without reason. The last person she saw (before being blindfolded) was me and the last voice she heard (through the iPod) was mine as well. So I planned it in such a way that I was the first person she saw when she opened her eyes, and the first voice she heard when the earphones were removed.
I looked into her eyes, and chorused 让我照顾你 as earnestly and as sincerely as I could.
I meant every single word I sang. And I sang my heart out to her. I wasn’t there to impress… I was there to assure. I wasn’t there to be a star… I was there to start a new phase of my relationship with her.
Huiyi stood there with bewilderment in her eyes. She was shell-shocked to say the least, and was still trying to get her head around what was going on. She had no idea this was coming her way… Nothing in life prepared her for this moment…
Next chapter: the question we’ve all been waiting for.
The three blindfolds she could choose from were an indigo one, a cream one (which the crew advised me to choose), a Sharingan one (thank God the crew banned me from picking this one from Naruto… On hindsight for it would have turned the entire proposal video into a comedy!).
With her concealment gear on, I left her for a split second and ran into the gents to get Gideon and Caleb to come out. Then I dashed over to the Privé reception and told them my name and that I had reserved two seats for tonight.
Then I chucked my barang-barang with the waitress who served me. I told her proudly and beaming, “Please look after my stuff for a while. I’m going to propose to my girlfriend now!” and scooted off to Huiyi’s side.
It was still pouring when I was ready to set off so I took the nearest available umbrella I could find – Gideon’s. This time it wasn’t broken and flowery anymore. It was bright orange and it added a wonderful “fun” element to the video (that would be produced later).
Orange was, after all, one of my top three favourite colours as well as one of the colours at the engagement party later that night. It was a great contrast to the doom and gloom of the thunderstorm. And it was picture perfect as far as I was concerned.
I held the heavy umbrella as she held on to my right arm. Bravely and against all odds, we attacked the downpour that greeted us. Nothing was going to stop our impending engagement just as nothing would stop us in our journey of life and love.
As soon as the rain hit the umbrella, she let out a soft sigh, realising that she started to get pelted by the merciless rain. I told her, almost prophetically, to “Just follow me”.
Next chapter: the love at first sight.
We took the elevator up to the ground floor and I made her show me where the toilet was. After all, she thought it was my first time at the clubhouse, remember? So thankfully, she ushered us into the washrooms that I had hope both of us would change in respectively.
I entered the gents and found Gideon and Caleb inside. All three of us were excited. I could finally show my true emotions and I could barely contain my excitement! They had to hush me down in case my voice travelled to the adjacent ladies.
I realised then that all my years of executing a change-parade in the SAF was a dress rehearsal (no pun intended!) in preparation for this. I changed into a checkered Esprit shirt, slipped on my new favourite pair of black Levi’s jeans, laced up my brown Timberland boots, touched up my hair, made a final check of the logistics required (especially the ring!) and was out of the washroom within three minutes.
Huiyi, however, took her own sweet time in changing and dolling up for the dinner. So I spent the next 10 minutes waiting for her to emerge from the ladies. Gideon and Caleb patiently waited inside the gents the entire time.
When she emerged from the washroom, she looked exactly the way I had hope she would look – the stylish girl-next-door look that I fell in love with and grew to adore. I was pleased that everything had turned out fine so far (except for the rain).
I didn’t say much to her except that I was going to bring her to somewhere special and that she needed to put on a blindfold and listen to music from my iPod (so that she could neither see the path nor hear the clicking sounds from the camera shutter).
She hesitantly complied, thinking that I must probably have something silly up my sleeves, as one of the mini-birthday surprises planned for her. Surprise, yes. Mini, I’m not too sure about that…
Next chapter: the wait is finally over!
Yvonne also took leave for the day to provide another helping hand. I involved her for two main reasons. I wanted Huiyi to share this precious moment with her best friend, and I needed someone to safeguard the equipment at the pier while Gideon and Caleb waited for me to arrive. They were camping in the gents where I was going to change into my evening attire.
By the time I hopped into the Subaru, the crew reported their 100% readiness for Project Will-You-Marry-Me. The placards were pasted onto the railings, the guitar was in place, and the camera crew was in position. This was it – now we were only waiting for the stars of the show to arrive!
I drove into the clubhouse car park and parked at the first available car park lot I found because I was afraid that Huiyi may recognise Gideon’s car. Thank God he’s a smart boy – he parked in an obscure lot. We gathered our barang-barang, and I took my time with this because it was crucial that I didn’t miss out on any item, and exited the car for the lift lobby.
We had to change into our evening attire as we were in still in our sweaty and smelly USS tee-shirt and shorts. I managed to persuade her into wearing that Zara blouse; a week ago, I asked her why I haven’t seen her in that blouse for such a long time. I even pretended to lament, “Such a nice and expensive top, but yet you don’t wear it often enough…” She said she had already put it aside for Perth. Yes, she had also intended to wear that blouse for the proposal that she thought I was going to execute in Perth.
I frowned and told her that she has more than enough time to get it washed and packed for Perth. I persuaded her to wear something nice at Privé since it was a high-end restaurant. Again, she obediently complied with little resistance. I think it’s because every girl would want to look good on her birthday. Dining at a posh restaurant was my excuse to change into something pretty.
Next chapter: the change parade and the final countdown.