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Tales of proposals: some engaging, some not

The Baltimore Sun

Guys keep trying to come up with ever-more-memorable ways to propose marriage, and sometimes that becomes a problem.

They pop the question in hot-air balloons at sunset or while riding giant roller coasters, which I never understood. Do you want to marry the woman or have her hurl in your lap?

Or they rent highway billboards to propose, or do it via stadium Jumbotron screens or banners towed by planes at the beach.

I heard of a guy who proposed to his girlfriend at a Phillips restaurant in Ocean City a few summers ago.

OK, that sounds romantic enough, if a little tame.

The problem was, the guy did it in the all-you-can-eat seafood buffet section on a busy night.

There he was, down on one knee, popping the big question.

But it was a wonder the woman could hear him. Because all around them, people were cracking crab legs, and frozen-drink blenders were whining, and announcements were crackling over the loudspeaker: "Ross, party of four, your table is ready ..."

Then there's the story of how Reed Harris proposed to his girlfriend, Kaitlin Whipple, in Farmington, N.M.

Maybe you saw this on the Today show recently.

Harris decided it would be fun to hide the engagement ring in a Wendy's Frosty milkshake.

The plan was for Whipple to discover the ring while spooning up the shake and be speechless with joy while friends whooped and cheered.

Except ... a couple things went wrong on the way to the speechless-with-joy part.

First, Whipple's female friends decided to speed up things by challenging her to a milkshake-eating race.

Whipple, a self-described uber-competitive person, said: Bring it on.

So they all grabbed spoons and started wolfing down their shakes.

When the race was over, the second problem quickly became evident: There was no ring in Whipple's cup.

Apparently, while blowing away the competition, she had wolfed down the ring.

This was confirmed later when the couple swung by the hospital and Whipple's stomach was X-rayed.

There was the ring, a gleaming white circle in the blackness of the image.

Luckily, these two crazy kids didn't let the whole bizarre incident get them down.

Back at Harris' place, with Whipple holding the X-ray of the ring, Harris got down on bended knee and asked for her hand in marriage as friends worked their cell phone cameras.

The next day, heeding advice that, um, "this too shall pass," Whipple began loading up on prunes and high-fiber cereal.

And the blessed event occurred a day later, with Whipple proclaiming: "... I have never been so excited about my bodily functions."

But the incident with the Frosty shows how guys can overthink these proposal scenarios - especially when they involve hiding engagement rings in cakes or drinks, which some guys seem to love doing.

Sure, if everything goes right, you have a Kodak moment.

But if something goes wrong, it might not be the kind of memory you want to last.

At the very least, it could involve cracked teeth and thousands of dollars in dental bills.

And the worst-case scenarios - let's say the guy has sprung for a real rock here - could involve choking, turning blue and an ambulance ride with siren wailing to the emergency room.

Which is why I love what my oldest son, Sean, did when he proposed to Karlye, now his wife.

Sean wanted the proposal to be romantic, sure.

But he didn't want any drama that could lead to bleeding gums or stomach-pumping or anything like that.

He decided to propose to Karlye on the beach in Ocean City. Ocean City is where they met. And it's their favorite place to get away.

So what he did was put a note in a seashell, telling Karlye how much he loved her and asking her to marry him.

And while they were sitting on the beach one day and she wasn't looking, he tossed the shell nearby.

"Hey, look at that shell," he said casually, in an acting performance worthy of Robert De Niro or Sean Penn.

And after she picked it up and read the note, there was Sean on bended knee holding the ring.

I know, I know ... awww, isn't that romantic?

Oh, you betcha. Obviously he didn't get that romantic bent from his dad.

But it made for a memorable marriage proposal, and it was low on histrionics.

And best of all, Karlye didn't need X-rays - which is always a positive.

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