Friday, October 23, 2009

Flashback Friday: The Story Behind the T-shirt and Tux

Last week, I posted this picture at the end of my post about Jason rejecting me in 7th grade:

This picture was taken just after Jason and I got engaged. As you may notice, and as was pointed out in two comments on last week's post, Jason is wearing a tux and I am in a grubby T-shirt. I guess this begs some explaining, so here it goes.

First, a little background info. In the spring of 2005, Jason and I had been dating for 4 years and all but three months of that had been long distance. We started dating when I was in college in Los Angeles, and continued dating while I studied abroad in South Africa, worked two summers at Trail Blazers Camp in New Jersey, and then while I lived in the Bronx to continue working full time for Trail Blazers. There is only so much communicating and relationsihp building that you can do over the phone, and it became pretty obvious by that Spring that we either needed to be living in the same city or we needed to break up. Fortunately, Jason opted to move to New York.

Since I left the city each summer to live full time at our camp in New Jersey, Jason toyed with the idea of working at a different summer camp. He even had several job offers with various rich-kid sports camps. However, our camp was in desperate need of lifeguards and Jason was a strong swimmer, so at the last minute, he turned down those other jobs and decided to move out to the wilderness and work as a lifeguard for the summer with a bunch of crazy kids. Oh yeah, and me!

Now this may sound like the perfect summer camp romance, but please consider a few things before jumping to that conclusion: First of all, I was essentially the assistant director at that time, and therefore more or less Jason's boss. We had very different sets of rules to follow. Also, our camp was intense in the strongest sense of that word. We lived in teepees, used latrines, went backpacking, cooked over open fires, all with inner-city kids, who were not only unfamilar with the setting, but also often came with their own sets of challenges and baggage. And the summer of 2005 was even more intense than usual for a variety of reasons that I won't get into here.

So, now you have the background. Now, when someone moves clear across the country for you, it's pretty obvious that marriage is likely in the cards. Jason and I had talked about it all summer, and had even looked at rings on one of our days off, so I knew a proposal was coming. But I like surprises, so I didn't want to know the specifics. (Are you starting to get a sense of how the clothing choices came to be?)Fortunately, Jason is extremely romantic and thoughtful, and pretty good at planning things.

At the end of camp, after the kids have gone home, the staff stay for an extra two days to help take things down for the winter. On the last day we have a big staff banquet, and then all of the staff leave early the next morning. Part of my job as an administrator was to make sure that all of the staff's jobs had been done properly before staff banquet could start. So on that afternoon, I was preparing to go pack up my belongings and then to go do some checks around camp. As I was heading out to my shelter, two co-workers, Kate and Jean, asked me to take a walkie-talkie with me. I thought this was a bit odd as the kids had already left, but I figured they just wanted to be able to reach me as they checked their sections.

So, I'm in my shelter and I hear Kate and Jean on the radio, calling me over to them. They were standing at the top of a path that led down to probably one of the most beautiful spots on camp property, a place called Vesper Glenn. It sits right down next to the lake and is surrounded by trees and flowers. Anyway, when I approach them, they both have very somber looks on their faces and they tell me that we have a problem. According to them, when one of the other staff members checked Vesper Glenn, she found beer cans, bottles, and other evidence of debauchery. Kate asked me to follow her and explained that I just had to see it for myself. Now, our staff that summer were a bit rowdy, but this stil seemed a bit far-fetched. I was beginning to wonder if there was some other plot hatching, but I went along with it anyway.

As we began walking down the path, Kate said the following: "The staff have really done it now. I think we're just going to have to cancel staff banquet and send them all home tonight." Mind you, it was already 4 in the afternoon. On hearing this, I became convinced that Jason was about to propose, so I got this huge grin on my face. However, I also thought that there was a chance, albeit very slight, that Kate and Jean were actually telling the truth, so I tried to hide my grin so that I wouldn't look too stupid if I ended up being wrong.

Well, fortunately, I was not wrong. As I got to the bottom of the path, I heard "our song" playing and saw this:

Yep, that's Jason in a tuxedo with two dozen roses ready to propose. This was my reaction:

He did it all right. He got down on one knee and said some amazingly romantic things, then presented me with my ring.

Of course, I said yes! As we kissed, I heard this huge cheer erupt. I looked out across the lake to the girl's dock and saw almost the entire camp staff cheering! Apparently, everyone knew about the proposal but me! In fact, they had been delaying the staff swim until after Jason proposed.

One of the best parts for me was hearing all of the effort that went in to staging this proposal. Camp is located in a very tiny town, and yet somehow Jason managed to procure a tux. The morning of, he made some excuse to me about needing things for the banquet and went out to buy flowers and pick up his tux. Then, he and another staff member dogded me as he headed over to get set up. Those little tables with white table cloths? They are actually milk crates covered in white camp sheets! At the last minute, he realized that the cd player needed new batteries and he had to run over to the girl's side to get batteries and then run back over to Vesper Glenn - all while wearing a tux in swealtering, humid New Jersy August heat. Here's a shot of what that looked like:

So there you have it. I was wearing a grubby t-shirt because that's pretty much what I wore all summer long, and I was caught by surprise. Jason was wearing a tux becuase he is romantic. And, to answer Kristen's question, the No Bull t-shirt was a left-over from college, when I belonged to - wait for it - the vegetarian club. Get it? No Bull? Yep, pretty clever, I know.


  1. "Jason rejected me in 7th Grade," C.mon, I did not reject you, I made a lame attempt at being cool as most 7th graders are famous for, and made a smart ass comment, as I am still famous for. Granted, that attempt at cool shattered you and because we were both 7th graders, we were way too akward to remedy the situation through basic human conversation so we decided to just not speak for a while...great strategy! (see another example of a smart ass comment)

    Consider my romantic side and awesome proposal as my litle ways of making up for unintentionally breaking your heart 12 year earlier!

    Now get our baby on the plane and bring my family back home fom Denver...Thanks!

  2. I have also wondered about the clothing choices in that pictures. What a cute story--way to go Jason!

  3. Go Jason! Such a cute story. And hopefully just the beginning of "happily ever after." :)


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