Please forgive me for doing something as technical as this. Think of it as a literature review fused together with romance.
The sound of raindrops practically set the tone of the video. And if you match the Chinese lyrics of the song to what was happening in the video, you’d realise that everything was poetic.
We first appeared in the video, side-by-side under the umbrella to “坐在我身旁”. And as you hear “回家的太阳“, the scene had the sunset in the backdrop, with us walking towards the camera.
Now for my first favourite scene…
Caleb captured our synchronised footsteps in the pouring rain as we walked across the frame. WOW – what a moment! It was an encapsulation of a journey that we would walk together, even in stormy seasons of life! Indulge me please, for I am moved by my own vivid imagination…
The silly way that I swiveled the ring box was something completely spontaneous; I actually did it because I was nervous! But look at how nicely it turned out – the camera transformed my anxiety into cheekiness. And speaking of camera magic, what looked like me gently kissing her on her cheeks was actually me whispering instruction into Huiyi’s ear.
And here comes my rock star moment!
Actually, it wouldn’t have been possible because the original instruction I gave to the crew was to set up my guitar on the guitar stand I asked them to bring along. But I think they didn’t not because they forgot but because they didn’t want to expose my Cort to the rain. They practically saved my guitar…
This meant that I had to take it out from the case when I got there and it created a wonderful MTV-esque scene. I felt like a rock star filming a music video in the rain! It’s like a dream come true, really – to do in real life what I’ve always seen in reel life (without spoiling my guitar). Wonderful!
And the next scene tops it all…
I must really hand it to Caleb’s technical brilliance. As the song reached its chorus and the scene reached its climax, the soundtrack was removed and in place of it was the live recording of my song presentation to Huiyi, complete with the rawness of the rain!
I loved it! And the stunned look on Huiyi’s face was absolutely priceless! Especially when she turned her head to the left and back immediately to size up what was going on – this was captured candidly and beautifully!
At this point, I think Huiyi still had no idea that she was gripping the placards in her hands. On hindsight, looking at those placards must have spurred me on and gave me courage to do what I did. I was staring straight at the love of my life and the answer that she was going to give.
This “YES!” placard, juxtaposed with the five placards in the background, formed a wonderful and self-explanatory picture of a proposal in its purest form.
The raindrops that ricocheted on the camera lens and the glowing lamps created such a wonderful lens flare! It was truly a cinematic moment that only God could help us to create, and at no cost!
(Please continue to indulge me because I think it was so cool when I removed the guitar! Wearing that checkered shirt proved to be priceless too! Yes, my imagination is running amok!)
The soundtrack returned to the video at its crescendo as I got down on one knee to open the ring box to present the ring to Huiyi to ask her to marry me.
And then came Huiyi’s favourite moment of the video…
It was the few seconds when she said “YES!” to me and when I smiled the widest and happiest smile of my life as I removed the ring from the ring box. Frankly, I’ve never seen myself so happy before too! And yes, Huiyi still beams each time she sees that scene.
And as she revealed the other two placards in her hands (that also read “YES!”), her best friend appeared, as if to endorse and affirm her of her decision…
I think it was a special and wonderful moment for the two of them to remember and talk about for the rest of their lives… I’m sure of that!
Again, I must compliment Caleb for syncing “把你未来放在我肩上” with the moment I put the ring on her finger. I don’t care whether it was by incidental or intentional, I only care that it was an inspired moment! Absolutely brilliant timing!
The video closes with us exchanging a kiss with her holding the “YES!” placard and the two of us standing at the front of “Will You Marry Me? / 让我照顾你”. Again, another award-winning moment.
The final Hollywood moment that we enjoyed came at the last shot…
As the camera focus blurred, leaving two orange lights (which matched the orange umbrella) in the background (complete with the lens flare effect), it concluded the entire video for us before it moved into the photo slideshow.
And if you haven’t already realised, what you hear during the slideshow is what Huiyi heard in her earphones just before I removed it.
Man, I think I should enter this out-of-the-world video (which I will embed for the last time) for some wedding competition… Wait a minute – I did!
Next chapter: the after-proposal reflection and reaction.
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.
This Garage-Band-mixed-MP3 was part of my arsenal of logistics on the actual day. I also brought along my iPod Nano, and had lined up four other significant 五月天 songs before this original composition played as the fifth song on the playlist.
I had to ensure that the entire playlist took around 20 minutes to play from start to finish. I will explain why later. I chose songs that represented different phases of our courtship. These were the songs I selected in sequential order:
- 让我照顾你 (by 阿信)
- 让我照顾你 (by 阿舍)
I remember taking out three blindfolds, charging all the gadgets that I needed for the day, packing the all-important ring, earphones and a change of clothes for the evening. I said my bedtime prayers and told the Lord that I’ve done that I possibly could. I guess I could say that I prepared ‘til my maximum, but I think it’s fair to say that I’ve prepared ‘til my optimum. Now I depend on His grace to see me through.
Yes, I think I am finally ready to write about how Friday transpired!
Next chapter: the actual visit to USS.
The song that defined our relationship thus far (and our would-be proposal) was 让我照顾你 by 五月天. I rewrote the verses to contextualise it into our relationship and spent an evening recording it at Johann’s place. I spent a week rehearsing the song on my guitar, after I spent an evening learning how to play it on the guitar from Joel. I don’t play the guitar regularly so my tender finger tips were on the verge of splitting due to a week of unfamiliar overuse.
I am an ambitious sanguine and the original idea was to get Joel to teach me how to play the song on the piano. The plan was to perform the song on the piano and sing it live to her. It was a double-challenge with a difficulty that was magnified four times over.
Firstly, I can barely bang chords on the piano. Secondly, I’m a typical ACS boy and typical ACS boys do not sing Chinese songs. Thirdly, I had to do play the piano and sing the chinese song simultaneously while composing myself in public. Fourthly, I gave myself only a week to master this. And finally, unlike an acoustic guitar that uses battery power, a portable keyboard required a power outlet for it to produce sound.
Basically, it only seemed like a sound decision (no pun intended) to do something a lot more achievable – play the guitar and sing. It was actually Joel’s wisdom that helped me make this decision. He lovingly cautioned, “Joe, if you really want to play the piano and sing this song to her, I will do everything I can to help you succeed. But don’t you want to be able to look her in the eye and sing those lyrics to her instead of focussing on the next piano keys to play?”
So I heeded his advice and reverted to my tried and tested Cort.
Next chapter: the most romantic amateur Chinese song.