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XXXIII. the drive back to Lakeholmz.

Stop! (: Before we drive to Lakeholmz, click here to find out what went through Huiyi’s head during dinner at Privé!

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It had been an extremely exhausting but entirely eventful day by the time we were done with dinner. And she was ready to head home. But I was just about ready to put part two together.

Of course, she has absolutely no clue what was going to come her way. As our clothes drenched from the rain began to dry, we packed two sets of barang-barang into one huge Privé paper bag.

I paid for dinner and we walked out of the restaurant hand-in-hand in absolute bliss; I was still getting used to feeling the engagement ring on her left finger in my right palm.

The feeling was surreal – both of us could barely believe that we were really engaged, and in such a dramatic fashion. It felt like a scene plucked out of a Taiwanese drama serial. And yes, I was delighted to have successfully executed a proposal that the two of us would remember for the rest of our lives.

The drive home was relaxed. As I took the wheel, I remember Huiyi asking me how I managed to pull everything together. She ran through the day’s events in her mind, from when she picked me up in the morning, to how I convinced her that I was in USS for the first time, to how she never saw it coming.

I felt wonderful, encouraged and absolutely proud of what I had done. She must have given me a million pats on the back for my gargantuan efforts. The result was more than worth the effort.

Even though I was drowning in her words of affirmation, the main thing on my mind was to transit from the car to the function room without giving the next part away. And I was fast running out of ideas on how to piece this jigsaw together…

I couldn’t use the blindfold trick anymore – not just because I’ve already used it but also because the blindfold had been chucked away somewhere in the boot; it was physically impossible for either of us to retrieve it now. Lakeholmz was just another traffic junction away and I was getting panicky and desperate.

I couldn’t whip up another story anymore – I had run out of deceptions, inceptions, interceptions and I had no exception but to tell it as it is. My content was straight-forward but I found the last morsel of wit in me to weave it as romantically as I could.

I ended up with this feeble attempt.

“Dear, I have one last surprise for you at your place. And I need you to cooperate with me. You must promise me to keep your eyes closed until I tell you to open it.”

I swear it sounded more schmaltzy in real life.

“You mean it’s in my room? Aren’t my parents at home? You mean they know about it? So weird – they are going to see walk into my room with my eyes closed!”

She jumped to a thousand assumptions like a curious 10-year-old girl. I could sense her excitement; she had every reason to considering she just got proposed to in such a dramatic fashion.

“Well, yeah it is…” I mean, it’s her function room, isn’t it? “Okay, no more questions. It’s a surprise.”

Yes, that was the only riposte I could manage.

Next chapter: the walk of anticipation.

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XXXII. the first meal together as an engaged couple.

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.

XXXI. the question we’ve all been waiting for.

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.

XXIX. the wait is finally over!

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).

One of my favourite photos - it has that 下一站幸福 feel about it!

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.

XXVII. the lead-up to the proposal.

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.

XVIII. the birthday that nearly ruined the proposal.

There weren’t many people who knew about the proposal. I wisely decided to keep it from her parents because I wasn’t confident that they could contain their own excitement and keep this secret from her, but I chose to confide in her brother, Xianyi, instead.

The reason why we couldn’t visit USS on Thursday was that we celebrated her birthday with her family on that evening. And the reason we deliberated for a week was that she was trying to arrange for an evening where her parents, brother and his girlfriend, as well as both of us were all available.

It was so trying that she had nearly wanted cancel the family dinner. And Xianyi, another unsung hero in this story, couldn’t intervene as much because he was supposed to help me keep it a secret. He skipped a school lesson to ensure that he was available on that Thursday evening for the family dinner, and missed a birthday (or farewell) party on Friday evening to ensure that his parents were home. More on that later but know that these are important pieces of information.

Normally, a boyfriend would pay special attention to his girlfriend’s birthday. But this dinner was so low-key to the extent that I forgot to buy a birthday cake on Thursday and had to trouble Xianyi to do it for me instead. My mind was focussed on one thing only – the proposal. I was surprised that Huiyi didn’t suspect anything from my lack of preparation for this birthday dinner.

Anyway, we celebrated Huiyi’s birthday on Thursday with her family at Peony Jade and this left Friday cleared for us to spend the day at Sentosa, as well as to have a private birthday dinner at Privé. Initially she wanted to dine at Lawry’s (and I had already made reservations for two) but I convinced her that Privé would be a better choice, simply because of location.

“Wouldn’t it be nice to have dinner by Keppel Bay Marina? I read reviews on hungrygowhere.com and apparently Privé’s got quite good ratings. Shall we try a new restaurant?”

Once again, she nodded and even told me that she had been to KBM a few times with her colleagues. I played along and told her, “Cool, then you can bring me around after dinner since you know the place better than I do.”

Now by this time, you might have realised that the original proposal plan had modified significantly, because she decided to take leave on her birthday to spend a day at USS together with me.

The original plan was to propose at MBC, then head to Lawry’s for dinner. But I had to throw that idea away, as well as the office surprise by her girlfriends. Why? Well, she wasn’t going to be at work that day! A major modification, but it was still fundamentally the same idea.

(I couldn’t get) Sunset by the (beach, so instead I got sunset by the) bay – check. I was good to go.

Next chapter: the inception – the surprise within a surprise.

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