There were times when I was actually a romantic – although even being romantic was tempered by my analytical way of thinking. But, in this particular case, that made what I did in my proposal to my second wife (Teri) special – at least in my opinion.
I knew I wanted to propose to her in May, 1999, but I got a great idea. I decided to do it via a crossword puzzle. She loved to work CW puzzles and I thought it would be cool.
Years later in 2011, I heard of a person who got a professional CW writer to create a puzzle specifically for him and they worked it into the paper. The three answers in the puzzle were marlowe epstein willyoumarryme. I’m not sure what the clue was for “marlowe” or “espstein”, but it worked.
Mine was cooler in my opinion. We were taking a trip from May 28th to June 1st to the Ozarks in southern Missouri. I decided I wanted to propose on June 1st – the traditional first day of summer. June is also the month in which most weddings occur. May 28th was on a Friday and June 1st was on a Tuesday – which worked out perfectly.
Teri liked doing crossword puzzles because she was good at them. She was always smart – getting her degree and MBA while working full time – straight A’s. She then got her CPA. She doesn’t like me bragging on her and she will probably hate this category on this site, but what can she do about it now?
Anyway, I made up a crossword puzzle (see below) that I knew she would want to do. I made it the size of USA Today’s paper and put it in as an insert on May 28th. We took off for the Ozarks on that Friday with me driving. At some point, I handed her the USA Today. She immediately discovered the insert and started working on it.
The theme of the crossword puzzle was “The Wedding Month” by Lyman Mintear (anagram for Martin Manley). It stated right on it that the answers would appear June 1, 1999.
I’m so obsessive about detail that I decided I had to make the crossword puzzle symmetrical, as all good CW puzzles are. Even cooler, the word "symmetry" is in the exact middle of the puzzle. Needless to say, that meant it took a lot of hours to create – especially when there was a theme and as many clues as possible had to relate in some way to love, romance, weddings, etc.
She completed the puzzle and then discarded it like she might with any other puzzle she worked on. Of course, when she got out of the car, I discretely saved it so that she would have it Tuesday to check the answers even if she didn’t think of it herself.
When we got back to Overland Park, Kansas on June 1st and settled in, I bought a USA Today paper and put the new insert into it. The insert showed the puzzle filled in with the answers. Below the puzzle was this:
14 Down ___ ___ ___ ,
13 Across ___ ___ ___ ___
12 Across ___
33 Across ___ ___ ___ ___ ___
87 Down ___ ___ ?
57 Across ___ ___ ___
The point was that she was supposed to fill in the answers to the clues above. When she did, they spelled out… T L W, W I L L Y O U M A R R Y M E? M A M
TLW were her initials and MAM were mine. Foolishly, she said “yes”.
"My most brilliant achievement was my ability to be able to persuade my wife to marry me." -- Winston Churchill
Many of the answers to the puzzle were related to the theme - JUNEFIRST, SHE, ROMEOANDJULIET, SEX, LOVE, ENGAGEMENT, MARRY, LADY, HEART, BRIDEANDGROOM, SAYYES, WINEANDDINE, WOMEN, DESIANDLUCY, SUGARANDSPICE, RING, HERS, WED, IDO, AMORE, MOON, MAKEAWISH, BELLS and others.