Even the gruffest of guys can be romantics, or so I discovered last week when my husband, Steve, and I were enlisted to abet in a proposal.
The call came Sunday afternoon from our friend Ray Wilms in Titusville.
Wes Grimes, who’s been dating Ray’s daughter, Kristen, for about four years, planned to pop the question. And Wes, being a good Southern boy, had asked for Ray’s permission — and help.
Ray and Wes had formulated a simple plan, involving a golf course, Champagne and a diamond ring tucked carefully into the ninth hole.
But even simple plans require impeccable timing. That’s where we came in.
Ray and Wes were taking Kristen and Debbie, Ray’s wife, for a round at Duran Golf Club’s par-3 course in Viera. Steve and I were tasked with retrieving the ring from under the backseat of Kristen’s truck and hiding it in the ninth hole sometime before the Wilms-Grimes foursome teed off for it, but after any golfers in front of them had cleared out.
Ray also suggested we bring a bottle of Champagne if it wasn’t too much trouble.
“But don’t pop it unless she says yes,” he said, eliciting a gasp from poor Wes.
We arrived at the golf course early, Steve ticking through a list of possible glitches.
• What if we can’t get into Kristen’s truck?
• What if the combination, instead of opening the door, sets off the alarm?
• What if we can’t find the ring?
• What if Kristen and Debbie see us?
• What if another golfer finds the ring first?
He was so nervous, I was reminded of the night nine years ago when he dropped shakily to one knee with ring in hand.
Men are always nervous when they propose, he said, even when they’re 99 percent sure what the answer will be.
He needn’t have worried so much. Things were going smoothly. We let Ken Couturier, who was working the counter at the course that afternoon, in on the surprise, and he hopped in a golf cart to check on our group’s progress.
They were just getting to the fourth tee, with a couple of other golfers two holes ahead of them.
While I tied white ribbons around souvenir Champagne flutes and sneaked peeks at the gorgeous solitaire tucked against its bed of velvet, Steve paced like an expectant father, keeping tabs on our friends’ progress.
He took the ring down to the putting practice area to do a fit check, and came back pale. With the flag in place, the box wouldn’t fit in the hole, something he didn’t even think about for his original worry checklist.
A giant, pumpkin moon was rising over Duran and the temperature was dropping as our friends approached the ninth. Steve crept onto the green and propped the ring box against the flag, then sent Ray a text telling him to nudge it into the hole before Kristen putted.
We watched from the shadows with Ken as she tapped her golf ball once, twice, and it fell into place.
We all held our breath as she crouched to retrieve it, then stayed on the ground for a 30-second eternity. Finally, we saw Wes drop to his knees in front of her.
They stood. They hugged.
We popped the Champagne.
Contact Leonard at sleonard@floridatoday. com. Twitter: @SuzyLeonard