T and I met at a wedding in June 1985, and moved in together a few months later. We had our ups and downs, but by February 1991 we had learned to negotiate the choppier waters of coupledom and things were good between us.
When T announced that he had booked a table at our favourite restaurant for Valentine's Day that year, something about the way he told me seemed to hint that there was more than a simple meal for two afoot. "I think he's going to propose!" I told my workmates, causing a flutter of excitement around the office. Much speculation about the hows and whens of the anticipated proposal ensued until The Big Night arrived.
While we were getting ready to go out, T cracked a bottle of champagne, adding to my expectation that this was not a normal evening out. I dressed in my favourite dress, carefully choosing pretty earrings to match and fussing over my hair and makeup. After all, a girl wants to look her best on such an occasion.
At the restaurant, we sipped drinks whilst reading the menu, and after ordering we took our seats at the table. The lights were low and the music was soft, it was the perfect romantic setting.
Our first course arrived, delicious. We chatted, ate and drank, and my sense of anticipation mounted. We finished eating and the plates were cleared away. We held hands across the table and smiled at each other.
The main course arrived, delicious again. T ordered another bottle of wine. I smiled at him across the table wondering if this was it. I didn't want to give the game away that I knew what was ahead, but I was on tenterhooks waiting for the moment to arrive.
We finished our food and again the plates were cleared. Ah, this must be it. He was waiting for a space uncluttered by crockery, cutlery and waiting staff.
We ordered dessert, and by now I decided I must have been mistaken. My tongue - and possibly judgement - loosened by all that champagne and wine, I leaned across the table and said, "You won't believe it, but I thought you were going to propose tonight!"
From the look on T's face I could see immediately that I had been completely wrong. The thought had never crossed his mind. I felt like a fool.
"You said you didn't want to get married," he said after a brief pause. I considered. Yes, when we first got together I had said that very thing. And meant it. But now...
"Well I didn't want to then... but now..." I smiled, trying to keep the mood light. After all, we were happy as we were. We didn't need to get married or anything. I changed the subject, and considered the matter closed.
After a few minutes, T made an excuse and left the table. I still felt a bit daft, but after all, nothing had essentially changed. I mentally put the subject of marriage on the shelf and when T returned we resumed conversation on other topics, and ate our dessert of Crepes Suzette. It was still a lovely evening.
The table cleared of dishes once again, we were waiting for coffee when another bottle of champagne and two glasses appeared at the table. T poured me a glass, and then the lights dimmed, and he completely surprised me by dropping to one knee and...
"Will you marry me?" My jaw dropped open. In the bottom of my champagne glass was a ring - T's signet ring, which until now he'd insisted he couldn't take off, as he couldn't get it past a swollen knuckle joint.
Of course I said yes, and immediately the lights of the restaurant came back up, celebratory music blared and we were surrounded by the restaurant owner (who in cahoots with T had provided the dimmed lights, champagne, glasses - and copious amounts of soap to remove the stubborn signet ring), all the waiting staff, more popping champagne corks, a cake (where did that come from?), and applause from the surrounding tables.
So that was it - how I accidentally got T to propose. We married in June that year, and this year will be our 17th Wedding Anniversary.
And do you know, until then I'd always said T wasn't romantic? How wrong can a girl be. And how lucky.