It was a simple plan, really.
Kim knew the ring was almost ready, so if I wanted to surprise her, I had to act quickly. All I needed to do was: lie, evade, or redirect any time that Kim asked if the ring was finished. Sneak over to the jeweler and pick the ring up. Buy a backpack-able guitar. Convince Kim to go on a hike to Dog Lake, even though it’s still a little too early in the season. Hope that enough snow had melted so that the hike wouldn’t be miserable. Convince Kim that I would carry my overnight backpack just as a conditioning exercise…when that fell through, convince my friend Zach to hike up to the lake with a table, chair, wine, and the newly purchased guitar. Write a song. Get over the fact that I’m not a great (or even good) singer.
My window of opportunity is small. Joe the jeweler is chatty. Guitar Center is packed. Kim was finished running errands by the time I got back home. Quick thinking and a poorly delivered half-truth as to my whereabouts almost derailed the entire thing. “I, um, got bored while you were gone, so I went to Guitar Center to play with some of the toys there.” The best lies are based in truth, perfect. The best liars believe the lie…nah, that ain’t me.
The plan almost fell apart as I test fitted the guitar…should have bought the backpacker, not the traveler model. Zach saved the day.
The hike was miserable from the get go. I’ve been on longer, steeper hikes. I’ve hiked snowed over trails without snowshoes before. But step for step, this was one of the sloggiest hikes I’ve done. Where there was no snow, there was mud. Where there was snow, post-holing knee deep was not uncommon. Kim was not feeling it. Her sunglasses broke and she didn’t have her eye glasses with her. My legs were achy from my Saturday run. “We must be getting close,” was either a statement of wish rather than fact, or it was one of those lies that if repeated long enough eventually becomes the truth. I had no way of informing Zach if we had to bail on the hike, so I absolutely had to get to the lake, even if I had to arrive alone.
The last stretch was the worst – the steepest incline, the deepest, slipperiest snow on the trail. Close enough to the landing site and not wishing to prolong the misery, I tell Kim to just hang out for a couple of minutes while I go check out the lake (and come up with a backup plan). I sprint, post-holing every third or fourth footfall, the last couple hundred yards. I grab the guitar, find Zach in his picture-taking foxhole, tell him we couldn’t finish the hike, and head back down the trail. Instead of just waiting for my return, Kim soldiered on. She wasn’t far behind.
“Why do you have a guitar?”
“Um. Some hippy hiked up here for some solitude. He was unprepared for the snow. He traded this for my pack!”
It was an unconvincing lie. I knew it when I said it. Her disbelieving smile was the reply I expected. Instant rejuvenation. We finished the hike to the lake.
Carefully rehearsed and memorized lyrics. A simple chord progression on the guitar. That’s all I had to do at this point. Well, the song I rehearsed didn’t include restarts and giggles. The song I wrote didn’t include such fine lyrics as “oh, wait. I messed that up” or “let me start this verse again” or “gimme a second to remember this part,” but that’s the song I performed.
Thankfully, she didn’t shriek in horror and run for her life upon hearing my tone deaf vocal treatment and amnesiatic lyrical delivery. She said yes!
See? It was a simple plan, executed without a hitch.