Sunday, July 18, 2010

Somebody's Getting Married or: How I Became Maria's Husband-Elect

Well, Maria and I are happily engaged. I chose a fine Independence Day afternoon spent on Governors Island as the time and place that I would ask her to marry me. Thankfully she said yes, no doubt due to the blingged-out beauty of my great grandmother's 80-year old diamond and platinum ring. She has in fact just confirmed: "Yes - it was only because of the ring that I said yes." The lovely and talented Gale designed this unbelievably brilliant card to celebrate our forthcoming nuptials.
Fig. 1: Too many titles? DO YOU KNOW WHO WE ARE?!

Alex, the current blood-soaked feudal Shogun of Hitoyoshi Castle, pointed out that upon Maria's and my marriage, she will ALWAYS one-up me in the race for the most titles attached to a name - for she will be (at least now) MRS. Baron(ness) the Reverend Doctor(ess) Mayor(ess) [Lady] Maria N. Olsen-Hoek, Esq., T.T..
That aside, I'm surprised at just how sneaky I can be! In fact, after visiting Robert Moses' Seaside Paradise at Jones Beach, I staged an unbelievably manly conspiratorial dinner-and-drink talk with Jon and Greg at that ultimate bastion of machismo, McSorley's Ale House. So manly is this den of manliness that women weren't even allowed in the joint until the 1970s. Now friends, you may be aware that I venture into the realms of "re-imagined" history in this weblog, but the fact stated in the previous sentence is entirely true! What may or may not be true is the fact that Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY) invented the frat boy game of Flip Cup at McSorley's. His version of Flip Cup involved inverting a full glass of beer onto a sloppily drunk patron's head as a form of payback for his theft of the Senator's sixth cheese and onion sandwich of the afternoon.
Fig. 2: Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (left) inventing Flip Cup
(Photo courtesy of Greg's Supreme Archive Photo Emporium, Ltd.)

Also, it's where Theodore Roosevelt wrestled and murdered his first grizzly bear at age seven. Alas, we are unable to provide photographic evidence as TR's natural X-ray emissions rendered him completely unphotographable.
Where was I? Oh yes! We met there to plot the engagement. The next day, Greg and I dreamed up a cover story that would permit me to return to Long Island to ask her parents what they thought of the two of us getting hitched. We would be "recording" some "dialog" for "Greg"'s "thesis" "project." Mr. French put it best: "That's great! A marriage founded in lies and deceit!" He also asked that I henceforth refer to him as "Your Lordship." Clearly any offspring Maria and I produce will be genetically predisposed to megalomania.
JULY IV, MMX - Greg, Sonja, Helen, Maria, and I (in custody of my great grandmother Lillian's ring) depart for Governors Island by ferry for Independence Day festivities. The island was fortified during the American Revolutionary War in anticipation of the Battle of Long Island / Brooklyn. Later those battlements became Fort Jay. Centuries later the island fell into the jurisdiction of the Coast Guard, which eventually abandoned the island for cost-saving reasons, leaving a ghostly shell of its militaristic past. We lunched in one of the fort's ravelins but quickly ran out of drinking water. Greg and I set out to look for water only to learn that Emperor Bloomberg saw fit to open the island to the public without installing public potable water outlets. TWELVE MORE YEARS! Thinking quickly, Greg had a brilliant plan to cross the river back to Brooklyn to fill our water containers. He texted the girls with perhaps the most famous text message in our group's history:
"no water on island. making supplies run. brb"
When we arrived at Brooklyn's Pier 6, the sight left us stunned and agitated. A line stretching nearly two city blocks had formed. In our astonishment, we didn't even see the drinking fountain not 20 feet away from us. As we assessed the line, a motorcyclist asked us if we were going to Governors Island.
"Nah, we actually just came from Governors Island - for some water."
"Y'know, Rosanne Cash is giving a concert on Governors Island."
"Who the hell is that?"
"... ... Get outta here!"
Apparently Rosanne Cash belongs to that elite group of "People Who Are Only Famous Because Their Parents Were Famous." Nonetheless, I have seen fit to put her on warning for crimes committed against persons trying to propose to their long-time girlfriends. BEHOLD THE LIST!
Fig. 3: Persons On Warning For Crimes Committed Against William and His Associates
  1. Rosanne Cash
  2. F. Scott Fitzgerald
  3. M. Night Shyamalan
  4. ABBA
  5. MTA New York City Transit
"Why F. Scott Fitzgerald?!" I can hear you ask. Well, because of that guy I have massive panic attacks when I see a green light. And that children is why I don't have a driver's license.
Anyway... broken-hearted, Greg and I took the bus to Atlantic Terminal. We planned to get water from the Battery Maritime Building and take the ferry from South Street Seaport. We reasoned that since the ferries there were larger, the line would move faster.
We were horribly, horribly wrong.
Our shock and awe at the scene near Pier 6 in Brooklyn couldn't compare to what we witnessed when we arrived at the Battery Maritime Building. A line stretching all the way to the Brooklyn Bridge. About 90 minutes into our quest for water, we were sweaty, thirsty and sun-baked. I was losing hope for a successful engagement atmosphere. Maria and I were separated by New York's Buttermilk Channel. Still, we had at least fulfilled one part of our quest, for we did find water in an inconspicuous location within the Staten Island Ferry terminal. BEHOLD!

Fig. 4: This had better not be rhinoceros water...
Okay. Calm down fellas. We'll go back to Brooklyn. Maybe the line has died down. Maybe we can get Nick to save us a place in line. Everything will be all right.
Subway. Brooklyn. Borough Hall. Walk to Pier 6.
Nick had scouted a place in line for us. I'd never been happier to see a picnic straggler. Greg and I cut into line, when a little idea popped into my head to appease those behind us in line - show them the ring; people love that romantic stuff. Success! The ladies behind us didn't have a problem with two more people hopping on the ferry in front of them.
Okay. We're almost there. Just across the channel.
I had originally planned to propose in front of the fireworks display. But no. Not after this epic quest. The only way to redeem our honor as men was for me to do something bold - offer her this water, the product of a failed yet epic 3-hour 2-borough quest, say to hell with the water, and give her the ring.
By this time the ladies had tired of life at Fort Jay. They left the perfect serenity of our fortified picnic ground to climb tress, learn to walk on stilts and take photographs of flowers. Huff - women. I was distraught. I wanted to propose right there under that tree in that fort. Head down, I bolted back to the picnic area, quickly re-unpacked out picnic, offered her the water and then suggested we get renter's insurance.
"What for?" she asked.
I got on one knee.
"For this thing. Would you marry me?"
I popped open the ring case. We were both dressed for hot weather, sporting NY Mets and Brooklyn Dodgers baseball caps. We were both red-faced and thirsty. She shed a single little tear and said "Yes!"
And that ladies and gentlemen is the long and convoluted story of how I became Ms. Maria's Husband-Elect. There weren't any fireworks and I didn't pay a crop duster to write "Will you marry me?" in the sky. But really, I wouldn't have it any other way. ...don't think she would either. And just for good measure:

Fig 5