Today is April Fool's Day. I love this day. Not because of the fool part of it (I am way too gullible to enjoy that part of the day). I love it because fifteen years ago today, my then boyfriend proposed.
Yes. I got engaged on April Fool's Day.
My husband likes to say that he asked on April's Fools so that if I said no, he could say, "I was just kidding anyway."
So every April first I get to revisit one of my favorite stories: the engagement story.
He'd been asking me to marry him almost as long as I'd known him. It was a joke between us, every time he asked, that I would say, "How am I going to know when you are serious?" He'd always answer, "You'll know because I'll come riding up on a white horse." He was in the army when we met, just back from the gulf war, so the idea of being a knight in shining armor wasn't too far from reality.
So fifteen years ago today, we both arranged to take the day off work and spend the afternoon together. He'd been working in New York as a broker for a few months after leaving the military and had been back in Austin for a few weeks, feet to the grindstone, so to speak, and we'd barely seen each other since before Christmas.
He didn't tell me where we were going, but packed a picnic for us and picked me up midmorning. We drove out into the hill country to a horse ranch where he had arranged a day of riding for us.
The hilarious thing is he'd spent a month combing the Texas countryside for white horses, and couldn't find any. Not one. Seriously. There are no white horses in central Texas. Finally he finds this place and goes to visit ahead of time to pick out the horses, the picnic spot, and ask the owners to spray for ants (how thoughtful can a guy get???). So he sees this white horse way out in the field. He's not being ridden by anyone, or in the stables with the rest of the horses, but the owner's assure him that "Wild Thing" is good for at least a few more rides.
Let me set the scene here. I am five-three. At the time, I weighed about as much as a few feathers. My husband is six foot four. And he has really broad shoulders.
When we arrive, they bring out my horse: a huge brown stallion that I literally use a step-ladder to get on. My feet are a good three feet off the ground.
Then they bring out Wild Thing.
Wild Thing is two days away from a glue factory. He is no bigger than a mule. He is sway backed, severely. My husband can throw his leg over his back without his other foot even leaving the ground. He looks like a thirteen year old on a toddler's bike. His knees are in his chin. When we go up the rocky trail, he almost has to get off and carry Wild Thing up the hills.
I turned around and pointed at Wild Thing, totally clueless about this set up, and say, "Hey, look! A white horse!" I think my husband laughed, although it might have been a choking sound. I wonder the entire ride why I get the huge horse and my boyfriend is on the one that clearly should be retired.
The rest is simply romantic. A picnic by a babbling brook, not an ant in sight; a gorgeous ring in a Cracker Jack box; a poem he read on one knee. The usual.
But now, everytime we pass a white horse, I make sure to point it out. Especially the big, strong ones. Look at all these white horses! And you're telling me you hunted and hunted and the best you could come up with was Wild Thing? And he always rolls his eyes and says, "Yeah. Wild Thing looked like that from a distance too."
Maybe. Or maybe he just wanted to make sure I knew he'd keep his promises, even if he had to ride a 100 year old horse to do it.
And who could say no to that?