For those of you who aren’t Facebook enthusiasts, I don’t know precisely where to start with this story other than to say that I have a fiance and I am now 张健’s fiancee. 张健 (Zhang1 Jian4), a.k.a Jason, proposed to me at Green Molly on June 8. We went there under the guise of celebrating his birthday.
The story begins on Tuesday, June 4. I went to get my nails done with Sara and then met up with Steffi. Steffi isn’t the newest of friends; she was in Xi’an around the same time as Linda. I met her through Linda and she even came to that year’s Hanukkah party.
Coincidentally, Steffi also has a Chinese fiance. After a meal of Hawaiian toast artfully prepared by Steffi, we sat around for awhile as we often do when we hang out, and just talked. There’s always a lot for us to talk about as we have peculiarly similar situations. Luckily, Jason speaks English fairly well and we don’t have to resort to communicating solely in Chinese as Steffi and her fiance do.
In particular, Steffi told me all about how her fiance had proposed. It just so happened that it was on his birthday and just as romantic as the story I am about to unfold.
During the course of our conversation, Jason messaged me on 微信, an app eerily similar to What’s App. He said I should invite Sara, Sandro, 慧利姐 Huili, and 唐删 Tangshan, Huili’s niece to dinner on Saturday, June 8 at Green Molly. He added if I knew what we were celebrating. I momentarily forgot his birthday on June 7. So I responded by directly asking him if he was going to propose to me. He shrugged me off by calling me a “笨蛋,” which roughly translates to any of the following: fool, idiot, hot mess, or dummy. Just to be clear, the previously mentioned word isn’t used offensively, but jokingly or playfully used between friends or couples.
His response left me saddened slightly, but I put it towards the back of my mind, as I had many other things plaguing my thoughts. Later on, he told me he also extended an invitation to his brothers, their wives, and sons. This brought the total number of potential guests to around 15. I did think it slightly odd, because Jason never makes a big deal about his birthday. Again, I didn’t give it much thought.
On June 7, I went downtown to have dinner and spend some time with him before his shift. He asked me if I was disappointed by his We Chat message, and I responded by saying yes, to some extent. He then pretended to be incredibly sorry and embarrassed. He had me off the scent as he intended to do so.
Jason and I went separately to dinner. He spent the afternoon with his best friend Yangqi, who came from Baoji (about a two-hour drive) for the “dinner.” The evening was an incredibly wet one, as it rained cats and dogs. Sara, Sandro, and I took a taxi during what seemed to be the heaviest of the extended downpour. It took us quite a bit of time to even get a taxi; I had primped myself, complete with high-heeled wedges and my peplum Loft dress. After finally hailing a taxi, we realized we were in for another whirlwind adventure in the form of an endless traffic jam. Jason called me a couple of times, wondering where we were.
We arrived, and in fact, not every guest had arrived yet. Huili regretfully informed me earlier that she wouldn’t make it. In light of what happened, I wish she could have been there. Regardless, we started looking over the menus and soon the others arrived. I should add that I invited Steffi and her fiance in addition to the extended list Jason gave me.
Once everyone had taken their seats, and there was certainly a whole lot of conferring over such a negligible part of the evening, food was ordered. As the food began to arrive, I noticed Jason’s absence. I inquired to several guests, in English and Chinese, since only some were bi-lingual, and no one seemed to be able to give me a definitive answer.
I was thoroughly enjoying my meal of beef tenderloin and a shrimp Caesar salad when Crystal, a pub employee announced that everyone at the table should close their eyes. What felt like ages later, she returned and informed me that Jason had “prepared a special dish for me.” At this point, my frazzled brain thought that he had been in the Green Molly kitchen actually preparing something for me, and didn’t seem to make any connection to the conversation we had a few days prior. When she gave the go ahead to open my eyes, she uncovered a bowl, inside my ring sat in its box.
If you watch the video below, you can see my shock, surprise, excitement, and tears, culminating into one hot mess of emotions. I was in my own little world, and until Crystal informed me to turn around, I had no idea Jason, on one knee, with 109 flowers, 99 red roses and 10 lilies, was awaiting my answer. 99 flowers symbolizes 我永远爱你, or I’ll love you forever. I stood up, faced Jason, giving him the ring in its box. While still on one knee, he asked me to marry him, in English. All I could manage was a devout nod, while stifling back happy tears.
To my surprise, and it wasn’t until after the proposal itself, I noticed Jason was dressed in formal wear, not his usual T-shirt and jeans getup. I was relieved he wasn’t wearing the Western-style Chinese suit, but rather a pair of dress slacks and a collared shirt. He revealed he picked out the ring, his clothes, the flowers all on his own, even though many of his co-workers, specifically the girls who know me well, wanted to help him with the arrangements.
I also learned that he had been planning this for a couple of months, consulting Huili as well as Parkqin’s mentor. He even attempted to tell Sandro and Sara before the event, but had a communication gaffe in the process (he said it’s hard for him to talk to Sandro at times). Huili had told Tangshan prior, which surprised me because Huili has said that Tangshan isn’t particularly good at keeping things private. Not a single person indicated what was coming.
After the proposal itself, Jason and I said a few words, in English and Chinese, to all the guests. It’s evident, if you watch the video, I was still in a state of shock. As I said earlier, the proposal wasn’t a total surprise, but I wasn’t necessarily expecting it on that evening. The most surprised of all the pseudo-attendees must have been the Green Molly staff, also my students. None of them were aware of the existence of our relationship. There was one occasion when a staff member asked me if I had a boyfriend because someone had seen me at Parkqin with Jason on New Year’s Eve. I quietly refuted that he was just a friend.
Many of my Green Molly students assisted Jason during the evening, and so we shared some of his birthday cake with them as a special thanks. I was especially flustered because I felt a bit guilty for having withheld such a “secret.” I still enjoy my privacy, so those of you who think I have fully acculturated that is simply not the case!
Oh, I have forgotten to mention that on June 7, prior to us going out for dinner, Jason went to the office to talk to his boss (mine, too) Stone. He didn’t realize I was sitting right outside the office and upon leaving he nearly jumped out of his skin when he saw me sitting there. He thought I had overheard his conversation, but in fact, one of his coworkers and I, ironically, were engaged in our own discussion. He even told Stone before the evening in question; mostly because he wanted to ensure he knew we’d be eating at Green Molly and therefore, Jason could enjoy his discount.
Stone very thoughtfully gave us a discount far beyond the 30 percent, and gifted us two bottles of fizzy champagne-like fruit-flavored spritzer. We did our rounds at the table, toasting several times, with his brothers coming over to toast with Sara and Sandro, forcing Tangshan to act as the translator and interpreter.
The evening culminated at Parkqin, at the request of his co-workers. We enjoyed drinks on the house, and were asked to sit with one of his bosses. Tangshan, not accustomed to bar life, didn’t want to stay for long, but was nice enough to stay until Jason and I were ready to leave, and who gave us a ride home (no, not Tangshan, but her uncle).
An unexpected portion of the evening included the regular Saturday night singers dedicating Bruno Mars’ “Marry Me,” to us, which “coincidentally,” was the song that played during Jason’s proposal at Green Molly. When their performance of the song ended, we gave them a big round of applause; I noticed that many scrutinizing faces near us began looking around for the couple. I saw some rather surprised and floored expressions on several Chinese men’s faces.
As the night started to draw to a close, the conversation at the table heated up. One of Jason’s former coworkers was recently employed at the Xi’an Sheraton, and the boss we were sitting with, didn’t seem to believe this former coworker. As a result of this attempt at “face,” Jason and I greatly benefited. The former coworker said she would give us a voucher for a free-night stay at the Sheraton. As a result, the following day, we met up with her and received the voucher. We planned to have our “ 订婚蜜夜, engagement honeymoon” on Jason’s next day off. Look for this entry among several others that are in the works!
Video was posted on my behalf by my sister Dee (Thanks!). Jason is responsible for the editing, music and photo selection. Enjoy!