On Christmas Day Jaime opened up her main gift from me, and I had taken a sizable risk picking out a handbag! Well I was only too pleased to see that she actually liked it and wasn’t going to return it! This was fortunate for me because inside the bag were two more gifts. One was a note that we would be staying overnight in the city at Ink48, a swanky Kimpton Hotel on the Hudson River, and the other was a note that we would be visiting the Build-A-Bear on 5th Avenue the next morning to build each other bears, something she’d been wanting to do for some time. The night of our hotel stay we already knew we were going into the city to see a Broadway show because for Christmas I’d given my sister and her husband tickets and for my parents’ anniversary four days earlier, I’d done the same. Jaime’s parents were joining us too, but this group outing was still not all that out of character for us. So because we knew we were already headed into the city, this plan virtually hid in plain view – no lies whatsoever. Just a little bit of truth remained concealed. Jaime thought it was sweet we’d stay overnight, but she had no idea what more was coming. On the afternoon of December 28th we suffered tremendous traffic en route from central Long Island into the city. But no fear, the less time we spent in the hotel before the show, the better. We checked into Ink48, basically dropped our bags in the room, noted the breathtaking view from the seventeenth floor. Before we knew it, we were heading over to dinner to meet up with her parents, my parents, and my sister and her husband. It was incredibly brisk out by the river and I was only wondering if there would be an issue when I would later suggest we also walk back. It would be serious complication if Jaime suggested either of our parents drop us off at the hotel. Nevertheless, I would roll with any punches.
The eight of us enjoyed dinner and a very fine show, a rather long show, and then the plan afterward was that Jaime and I would walk back to our hotel while everyone else would be driving to their respective homes.
Or so she thought…
Little did she know, that they too were headed to the hotel and were going to be staked out in the lounge. The brisk walk back was far warmer than I anticipated, but perhaps that’s because I knew what would soon be in store for us. And the truth was, I still wasn’t nervous. Jaime and I headed back up to the 17th floor where our room was but instead of turning right at the end of the hall into room 1702, I turned left at the end of the hall into room 1701. The difference was about four feet. But seriously, who pays attention to which direction you turned at the end of the hall? For the time we’d spent her earlier, Jaime sure hadn’t. Per our long-thought-out plan, the front desk had made two keys for me, one for our “staging room” and one for the “Heaven Over Hells Kitchen” suite across the hall. This suite was two stories, 1,100sf, and had a 2,500sf patio overlooking the Hudson River and the incomparable NY city skyline. Once inside the suite Jaime would hear a special song playing over the sound system of the room – Jack Johnson’s “Upside Down” – which has been a song of importance to us for a while. And staring at her straight ahead was a highboy with two Godiva chocolate covered strawberries, a dozen long stem red roses, and a bottle of champagne on ice. It wasn’t yet clear to Jaime how we even got in this room let alone what was about to happen. She thought we had entered some type of lounge.
At this moment, I instructed her to shed her jacket and toss it onto the floor. It might be now when Jaime realized that something was most assuredly up. I gave my short but sweet three line schpiel, got down on one knee, and presented to her the ring which had been burning a hole in my pocket all night and in our apartment all week.
Once the sheen of the moment had come down just a bit, I instructed her to quickly call her mother, though in her head she was quite sure her mother already knew. Her mother pretended she was already in the Queens-Midtown tunnel but in reality, Jaime’s parents, my parents, my sister and her husband plus Jaime’s brother and his wife, her brother’s best friend, and Jaime’s two best friends and one boyfriend were headed up to the suite to celebrate with us. There was another tray of champagne glasses and strawberries off to the side and Jaime’s mother gave a memorable champagne toast.
It was an hour or so of incredible rejoicing.
I must note that my having worked nearly fourteen years in the hospitality industry was a huge reason why this night went off without a hitch. I had the experience for one, but I also had the contacts. Ink48 knocked this one out of the park. I came up with a plan and they were with me every single step of the way. Both my catering manager and concierge were on point and helped fill in the gaps in my plan when there were any. Jaime was surprised around every corner, not because this gesture was out of character for me – the contrary actually. Because she knew of my affinity for large scale, hospitality centered moments, this plan looked like one I would have come up with even if it didn’t result in my slipping a ring on her finger. That worked to my advantage because Jaime could be in on almost every facet of the plan with it still being a complete surprise in the end.
This night will never be forgotten and it concluded for me, the Best Week Ever.