I don’t think I’ve ever been as nervous as I was that day.
I had been fiddling with the ring in my pocket all day, and here I was, finally, in line at Waiola Shave Ice waiting to give my order.
“What’ll you have?”
“Two large cones with ice cream. Li hing and Melona flavors,” I rattled off the order just like I had many times before. “Oh, and, uh, can you put this on top of one of the ice creams, underneath the shave ice?” My hand was shaking as I gave him the ring, sealed inside a tiny plastic ziploc baggie. “I’m going to propose to my girlfriend today.”
I paid for the shave ices and moved away from the order window. I hopped nervously from left to right, trying to work off the building adrenalin. My friend who stood with me in line clapped me on the shoulder and chuckled. “Be cool, brah.”
“Trying.” I replied. But how can you NOT be nervous when you’re about to pop THE QUESTION to the love of your life? Anyone who isn’t nervous in this situation is a dispassionate freak.
We’d been seeing each other for more than 2 years already (read our budding love story series We’re Just Friends, Right?, Can We Still Be Friends?, and Friends Forever) and Annie was ready and waiting for me to ask THE QUESTION. Actually, I’d been planning this day for months. I knew I wanted to do it at Waiola’s – our favorite shave ice stand – and I knew I wanted our friends to be there as witnesses.
One of our friends was returning to Japan, so I used this opportunity to get Annie to ask our group of friends to meet at Waiola’s for “one last shave ice”. (In reality, all of the friends were in on it )They duly showed up at the appointed time, and kept Annie occupied around the corner from the ordering window so she wouldn’t see me handing off the ring to be put in her shave ice.
There was one problem, though.
Can’t Take It
Over the weekend, Annie had come down with a cold. She was shivering, coughing, had a stuffy head, and was generally feeling miserable that day. “Maybe we should just call off the shave ice thing,” she told me that morning. “I don’t feel like I should be taking shave ice today.”
I had to think fast, or the plan would be sunk! “It’s too late to try to call all our friends and cancel,” I reasoned. “Besides, it’s a hot day, perfect for shave ice. Maybe you’ll feel better by the time we meet them in the afternoon.”
The Moment Arrives
But she wasn’t feeling that much better by the time we got to the shave ice stand. She told me that she would probably just pick at hers and not finish it. “Just eat the shave ice; you don’t have to finish the ice cream if you don’t want to,” I cajoled.
Back at the window, the server handed out my order. “One large with ice cream,” he called out, “And here’s your ‘special’. Good luck!”
I walked back around the corner and handed Annie her ‘special’. “Here you go!” Then I backed off to finish my shave ice.
I normally like to savor my Waiola shave ice. The finest crystals of ice, bathed in sweet-salty li hing syrup and melted Melona (a popular Korean honeydew-flavored ice cream bar) is refreshing and addicting. When mixed with the soft vanilla ice cream underneath, it is a pleasure worth taking your time with.
But not today. I had to finish all of mine before she got through the ice and found the ring. So I risked (and suffered!) a brainfreeze gobbling down my shave ice. I could have won a medal for fastest shave ice eater.
It turns out I didn’t need to rush. Annie was taking her time nibbling and poking at her melting shave ice. She almost looked like she wasn’t going to eat any more. (Annie told me later that she was actually about to toss the whole thing away…)
But her poking had revealed a corner of the plastic baggie holding the ring. She scraped away the ice then picked it out. “Oh my God, what is this?”
That was my cue.
On My Knee
I strode over and lifted the bag from her fingers and opened it, fumbling slightly as I extracted the ring. Then I pulled out the piece of paper that I had in my other pocket and in the clearest voice I could muster, read out:
My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips’ red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damask’d, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground:
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.
(Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130, Annie’s favorite sonnet. The Bard certainly has a way with words!)
I got down on one knee and asked her to be my partner for life. “Would you be my wife?”
(I guess you know what her answer was )
With the ring safely secured in its proper place, a wave of relief and joy swept over me. We hugged and kissed. Nearby customers who saw what happened clapped in congratulations. Of course, all the girls crowded around Annie to ooh and ahh over the ring.
I felt like I was the luckiest man on the face of the earth right then.
Today is our 11th wedding anniversary.
In conjunction with the Royal Selangor “Get Your Jelly On” challenge, I wanted to create something using the Royal Selangor Jelly Mould that harkened back to the day of our engagement. But recreating the li hing / Melona shave ice would be too easy and too hard at the same time. Too easy because how hard can it be to put ice cream in the cone and top it with shaved ice? Too hard because we can’t get Melona bars here in Kuching and we somehow don’t have any of the red li hing powder in our house.
So I decided to make an “Engagement Jelly” by filling part of the cone with li hing-infused konnyaku jelly and letting that set. Then I planted the ring (wrapped tightly in plastic wrap) on top of the hardened jelly and poured a milk and gelatin mixture over it.
The result is a ‘special’ dessert that any guy can use to pop THE QUESTION to his beloved.
We’re halfway through the “Get Your Jelly On” challenge and are so encouraged by your support. Thank you for reading and commenting! We’ve got a lot more Jellyriffic ideas to come, so please subscribe to our blog to get all the latest updates sent to your email inbox or RSS reader.