Walking to lunch today with Sara Metz we came upon Ben English and Elitza Nicolaou, chalking the sidewalk near the Alumni Chapel. It didn’t take long to figure out that Ben was planning to guide his soul mate, Kat Cooper from her Union office to the chapel so he could pop the question. Ever the romantic, he had written a poem and inscribed each line on the sidewalk between Beaumont Tower and the chapel, where he would be waiting with the appropriate hardware.
So I asked him, “Who is gonna take the pictures?” Turns out he had forgotten that detail. We thought for a moment about who we knew that was a good photog. But lunch was calling and we parted.
Fast forward to 5PM. For the past 33 years, Wednesday night has been date night for Colleen Westerman and me. I look forward to it each week and was outta the office and on task, still doing all the things I did to win her heart in the first place.
But I began to think. What if Ben didn’t find a photog? This was something that had to be recorded.
I pointed my American Iron toward the alumni chapel and found him standing on the steps. No photog in site. I jumped out of the car. “I have your back,” I shouted and set up a stake-out across the street.
In a few minutes, I recognized Kat’s floating gait in the distance. She stopped at every chalking, popped out her phone cam and took a picture. She had to know what was coming.
When she was in range of my iPhone’s video camera, I hit ‘record’. Her back was to me as she saw Ben and I quietly stepped behind her as she mounted the steps. Ben had his lines thoroughly rehearsed. I couldn’t hear what he said, that was between the two of them, but I got the moment. I realized that my hands were shaking. Memories of my own experience declaring my intentions to the love of my life came rushing back. Kat’s eyes were wet and I realized that mine were too.
Kat did not earn her nickname by chance. She has eyes in the back of her head and figured out that I was there. I could read a note of relief in her face. Someone was capturing this slice of history for her.
Ben got on one knee and opened the box. Inside was the golden circle that symbolizes an unending commitment, topped with a square emerald, ringed with diamonds. It was the exact item Kat had picked out during one of the requisite trips to the jewelry store that young lovers make.
He popped the question. She nodded and the ring found it’s way home to her left hand.
I was there only a moment more to pose two still shots. Then I faded quietly into the summer evening as Ben and Kat savored the moment that they will remember the rest of their lives.