Kids, I have told you dozens of stories over the years that have moved from Point A to Point B with hopefully some kind of moral at the end. Out of all of the stories you have heard up to this moment, none are more important than what happened last Sunday night on the shores of Lake Pontchartrain.
For full effect, download “And There She Was” by The Solids and play at maximum volume throughout the duration of this post.
I think I am somewhat of a wise man. What I mean is, I have picked up a few pieces of wisdom in the three decades I’ve been wandering around on God’s green Earth. I can change a tire on my own car, I know the difference between subsidized and unsubsidized student loans, I can look up at the night sky and point out a handful of constellations, I can even tie a bowtie on a good day. I think it’s safe to say that I know some things here and there. Despite all of that, last Sunday night as a pretty girl and I sat in a dirty restaurant off Bourbon Street eating $50 salads, laughing at how New Orleans was the equivalent of the devil’s anus, I sat with my sweaty palms under the table trying to figure out what I was going to say to this girl.
“Let’s get out of this place.” I said. She stared back with a puzzled look on her face.
“What do you mean lets get out of here? We just got to New Orleans.”
Valid point. We did just pull in to the most disgusting city in the history of humanity. A place that makes Las Vegas look like a G-rated movie. A town that is the closest creation to what Hell will look like in the afterlife. As the seconds ticked on and my brain scrambled for an answer, I just knew we had to get out of this dump.
“I don’t know, let’s uh…lets just uh…go for a drive or something? Maybe? Maybe go umm…out to the lake?” I said.
Nailed it. She had no idea what I was about to do. That confused/perplexed/WTF look on her face meant she’s not suspecting ANYTHING out of the ordinary. I, Brock Bybee, was a genius. That’s a cold hard fact.
“Uh…sure. Let’s um…go for a drive.” She said. Out of the corner of my eye I thought I saw her swipe a salad fork and put it into her purse for protection, but no, my mind was just playing tricks on me.
Cut to a mid-sized rental car on Interstate 10 being pummeled by a thunderstorm the size of Mongolia with two young kids sitting in trepidation going 17 miles an hour on a freeway with our flashers on like the rest of the city.
“Maybe we should just go back to the hotel?” She said. “This weather is crazy!”
“No! This is nothing. I’ve seen plenty worse storms than this.” I lied kids, I had never seen worse storms than that. It felt like Hurricane Katrina’s big sister was unloading her bowels on this city all over again. Despite the weather, I knew for certain I was not going to drive back to the hotel without asking this pretty girl a single, simple question. A question that would change the course of both our lives forever. That last line sounds cliché, I know. But it was the direction both of us were heading.
Cut to the paved walkway on the shores of Lake Pontchartrain where two crazy kids with no one else around stood with each other looking out at the water. The rain had stopped but the storm had not, and lightning flashes were dancing around us every 30 seconds. It was like a glimpse from a Bob Ross painting. Seriously, not a better setting for what would happen next. You want to find a more romantic scene than two people standing on a beach with a lightning storm going on and no one else around? That stuff would make Putin intoxicated with love.
“So when do you think would be a good day to get married?” I asked her as we stood there watching the lightning. She hesitated to answer, probably because this was the first time in the history of our relationship I had ever brought up the M-word without making the entire situation morbidly uncomfortable.
“I don’t know, there are plenty of days to pick. This isn’t something we need to talk about right now. There are so many other things that have to happen first before we start thinking about this. So…I don’t know?”
“You’re right.” I said. “We might as well get those small things out of the way.”
And with that I knelt down before her, looked up in to her eyes and said the most famous four-letter phrase uttered by millions of scared-stiff men holding a small box in their hands.
“Will You Marry Me?”
This is the part where this pretty girl looked at me with an unexpected look of surprise but a gentle smile on her face. She wasn’t taking me serious.
“But you don’t even have a ring.” She said.
For a moment I was confused. However it took me a split second to realize that me, a 6’5” giant kneeling down to meet her 5’3” gaze, this was the first time in our history we had actually been eye level, therefore she was now looking directly into my eyes, and not down at the small box I was holding in my hands.
“Well if you’d look down there’s a big one right in front of your face.” I said with a smile.
Cue sudden rush of emotions, followed by tears in her eyes, hands over her face, and the shocking reality that this moment, the moment that every girl dreams about when they’re young, the moment they will cherish until they take their last breath, that defining pinnacle moment of taking a leap into the unknown with another person, was now happening to her. With lightning blazing and rain beginning to spatter, I was on one knee asking this girl to change her last name and become my wife.
“So uh…yes? No? Maybe?” I said after 15 seconds of silence.
“Yes! Of course yes!” She said back finally after catching her breath.
And that was it. We stood on the shores of Lake Pontchartrain holding each other, kissing each other, knowing that things were heading in the right direction. That no matter what happened in the future, we would make it out alright because we had finally found one another. If you would have told me six months ago that I would be standing at this point with this girl in my arms, I would never have believed you. But kids, that’s the funny thing about life. Things never really go according to plan. We don’t always know the answers to the problems that get thrown at us. We just have to buckle down for the long haul and push our way through all the chaos until the answer comes blooming out of nowhere.
You see the one thing I never could figure out in all my years was what I needed to do to fall in love with someone. There’s no uniform answer for that of course, but for years I’ve been trying to solve that puzzle. Everyone has a different way they do it. And mine was as unique as they come. All I had to do was move to St. George so I could go back to school after my mission. Go on a double date with the wrong girl. Total a car. Nearly drown in a reservoir. Graduate from college. Have brain surgery. Start working as a recruiter. Move up north so I could live on the road. Start watching HIMYM. Date the wrong girl. Send an accidental text message. Fail the GRE. Move back to St. George. Become a professor. Run a marathon. Then an Ironman. Move into my first house. Date the wrong girl. Date the wrong girl again. Date the wrong girl a few more times. Watch your Aunt Danielle and Uncle Jared get married in Cabo. Pass the GRE. Apply to grad school. Date the wrong girl for the last time. Talk to the big man upstairs a few times here and there. Go to a Dixie State basketball game and meet up with a pretty girl who went out with my best friend on that same double date nine years ago. Turn to her at halftime with a lump in my throat and butterflies in my stomach and just start talking to her.
See? Easy. And that kids, is how I met your mother.