A couple of months ago, I turned 29. I didn’t make a big fuss about it because, who celebrates turning 29? It’s one year closer to 30 and, let’s be honest:
I figured I’d just pour myself a big glass of red wine, slather my face with anti-wrinkle cream and spend the day flipping through old Facebook photos, lamenting the dewy, uncorrupted skin of BreezyK past.
My boyfriend however, had other plans for me. He suggested we both take the day off work and hang out, which sounded good to me, because shameless self-pity isn’t really my best “office look”.
I knew we had dinner reservations at 9pm, so I figured we would just kick until then. We were watching old SNL reruns when he turned to me and said “I have a surprise for you, but you have to pack an overnight bag”.
“What is this, a Bachelor Fantasy Date?” I asked “Where are we going? And (more importantly) “how much time do I have to get ready?”
“You’ll see” he said, “Just pack something to wear to dinner tonight, and some comfy clothes. We’re leaving in an hour”
Suspiciously, I began to pack. I am a notorious overpacker at the best of times, but with few parameters, this reached new extremes. I literally packed everything I own; including my passport (in case we were going to Paris), 6 pairs of socks (in case it got cold in Paris), and two different hair straighteners (in case one didn’t match the Parisian outlets).
“Whoa, it’s not like we’re going to Paris,” he said, correctly reading my crazy. “We’re staying at the Drake Hotel overnight.”
The Drake, if you’re not familiar, is a boutique hotel, restaurant, concert venue and general Toronto institution. I’ve been there many times to eat and drink, and have often said, “wouldn’t it be cool to stay here for a night?”
So I was really
disappointed it wasn’t Paris pumped we were going there! (No really, I was. I don’t even look good in berets anyway.)
Our room wasn’t ready when we arrived, so the concierge offered us complimentary cocktails at the hotel Bar. We sipped our Moscow mules and pretended we were fabulous people who regularly drink cocktails in hotel lobbies at 3pm.
“Sorry for the wait,” said the concierge after we had finished, “we upgraded you to our nicest suite, and were just getting it ready. Looks like you have just enough time to change before your couples massage”.
Our room had a very retro, mid-century modern feel with low light, teak wood furniture, and a big, sprawling chaise lounge. A bottle of champagne was chilling on ice. He must have mentioned it’s my birthday, I thought, adding two points to the mental tally I was already beginning to lose track of.
After our massages, he suggested we start getting ready for dinner early. “That way we’ll have time to drink champagne before we leave”, he said.
I was like,
He changed into his suit and I began the arduous process of getting ready.
Two hours An hour later, with my smokey eye perfected, I emerged from the bathroom in my plush Drake Hotel monogrammed bathrobe. “I think I’m just going to wear this while we have our champagne,” I announced. “Then I can sit on that chaise in my robe and get lipstick on my champagne glass. It will be a very Elizabeth Taylor moment”.
“Ok,” he responded, not missing a beat. After knowing me for nearly 5 years, he is used to my delusions of grandeur.
I sauntered over to the chaise lounge, folded my legs up under me in my best “White Diamonds Commercial” impression, and held out my champagne flute in front of me.
He smiled and poured us both a glass, raising his for a toast.
“Cheers,” he said, “I am so happy to be spending your birthday with you this year”.
“Cheers!” I responded, clinking my glass against his and proceeding to down half of it in one fell swoop.
“Wait,” he said, “I’m not done yet”.
Something about the way he said it stopped me dead in my tracks. I slowly lowered the glass from my lips, dribblig the offending champagne back in.
He reached behind the champagne bucket, and pulled out a jewelry box. Before I knew it, was down on one knee. He said a few sweet things, all of which I’m sure were carefully planned but now are a complete blur, before hitting the punchline:
“Will you marry me?”
And how did I respond? Did I jump up and down? Cry beautiful, heartfelt, mascara-stained tears as Liz Taylor undoubtedly would have done?
And laughed. To say I was surprised was an understatement. After about 30 seconds of solid giggling, I caught a glimpse of his face, which was registering pure terror, and I realized I still hadn’t actually SAID anything.
“Oh my god yes!!” I responded “Yes of course!! Sorry, it’s not funny, I’m just happy!”
We decided to keep it just between us for the night, and to let our friends and families know the next morning. We went for a lovely dinner where we were so distracted by the enormity of what had just happened that we could hardly enjoy the delicious food. Just a note to newly engaged couples- TELL EVERYONE. Seriously, MILK that sh*t. We stupidly didn’t mention it until after our meal was over and had paid, and the chef literally ran out of the restaurant after us saying “Why didn’t you tell us! We would have given you free champagne and treats!”
When we arrived back at the hotel, a long line was snaked outside of the Drake for their annual Halloween costume bash. We walked right to the front with our room card, and told the bouncer we were guests of the hotel. “Of course,” he said, lifting the velvet rope.
“You know,” he said, once we were back in our room, “with our reservation, we have access to everything in the hotel, including the party. I think we should go- but we need some costumes.
…….. Good thing I brought some!” to my utter disbelief, he pulled two costumes out of his seemingly endless bag of tricks- for him, a Mountie, for me, a Chef. (which was a relief, because I worried for a split second I was going to be The Pioneer Woman).
Laughing, we switched into our costumes and made our way downstairs where we danced to 90’s hits and partied with kids too young to remember them. Although I had never imagined the night I got engaged to end like this, it was, strangely, perfect.
So, in the end I guess I did get my Elizabeth Taylor moment-just not quite the way I had planned it.