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When I had assured Amy's parents the Wednesday after Christmas that I would propose before February 28th, 2006, I had every intention of going down on one knee on Valentine's Day itself. It was too perfect to ignore.
February 14th, 2006 was precisely four years after our first date. We went that night to the Lighthouse Coffee and Café in 2002 as good friends, strictly platonic in intent, since neither one of us had any viable romantic options at the time. Unexpectedly and almost despite ourselves, romance blossomed that evening much to our amazement and delight.
This was a day that had been a long time coming for me. It was a very big deal. Getting married later in life, made my upcoming proposal and wedding seem that much sweeter to me somehow compared to my colleagues who had proposed and tied the knot years before.
On Valentine's Day, I asked Amy to meet me at the radio station at 11:30 a.m. for lunch. She knew that was unusual in and of itself. I wanted to keep her guessing.
I rarely take lunch. It makes me too nervous. It's smack dab in the midst of my show prep time. I usually bring a sandwich or a couple of pieces of fruit which I eat at my desk in between phone calls to potential guests or as I read the latest news of the moment.
She had just moved back to San Antonio days beforehand from Houston after quitting her job at the J.W. Marriott. She ultimately moved in with some friends of mine, an empty nester couple five minutes away from me, who generously offered to let her stay with them rent-free in one of their three empty bedrooms until our wedding.
I greeted her with a dozen antique-colored roses. As she was opening up her card, I drove across the street from the radio station toward the airport.
"Do you know which restaurant I'm taking you to over here?"
"No. I don't know of any restaurant in this area." We had just passed the post office on our right. I pulled up to a private hangar immediately next door.
"So, what do you thing we're doing?"
"Getting on a plane?"
"Nope, a helicopter!" I exclaimed.
She smiled first, then started laughing. "Adam McManus, what are you up to?"
After we buckled in together in the back seat, complete with headphones and a microphone so we could communicate with each other, the pilot gave us the option of listening to a CD as we flew. I chose Mario Frangoulis, a romantic balladeer. Terrific voice. Every time we pushed the little button which enabled us to talk, it cut the music off. Nice little feature.
As per my instructions, the pilot took us first to downtown San Antonio to tour the skyline where we flew over the Tower of the Americas and her old place of employment, the Marriott River Center. Her look of surprise and delight made it all worthwhile.
Then, we were soon flying over treetops and reservoirs and houses as we headed to Austin where we landed in a meadow next to the Salt Lick Barbeque Restaurant, where she had, unbeknownst to me, frequented a couple times per month while she was a student at the University of Texas at Austin.
She told me later that she thought I might have organized her family to be there at the restaurant to witness my proposal. But she was mistaken. There was no family. There was no proposal over our chopped beef sandwiches. We climbed back in the helicopter, landing in the Alamo City just 30 minutes later. As I dropped her off at her car in the station parking lot, I handed her directions to Folawn's Day Spa where I had scheduled an appointment for a manicure and a pedicure.
Tonight was a big night. And I wanted her looking and feeling her best.
I could barely contain my excitement during my talk show that afternoon. As usual, I offered KSLR listeners the opportunity to tell the loved ones in their lives how much they valued them. The calls came in at a steady pace. The phone lines were virtually all filled during the majority of the program. It always proves to be one of my most popular shows.
I gave Amy explicit instructions. Show up at my house no later than 6:30 p.m. I had some additional surprises up my sleeve.
At the end of my broadcast at 6 p.m., I signed off with my customary close saying, "Until 3 p.m. tomorrow afternoon, I'm Adam McManus, challenging you to 'take a stand.'" I turned my theme song "Mighty Warrior" to full strength for the final five-second trumpet fanfare. No sooner had the station identification begun to play for the top of the hour legal I.D. before "The Bible Answer Man with Hank Hannegraaf" started then I was up, out of my chair and walking down the hallway to the elevators.
I had one quick errand to run before I met Amy at my house: the dry cleaners. Traffic was heavy. No doubt some people were getting a head start on the typical restaurant rush. Minutes that I didn't have were ticking by at the cleaners as they looked and looked for my suit and shirt. They finally found my suit, but my shirt had apparently gone A.W.O.L. You have to understand, for whatever reason, the rest of my shirts were dirty, wrinkled and at home in the hamper. I had dropped this one off with my suit to me cleaned for my special day. And, for the first time ever, they couldn't find it.
Typical. Any other time I would have rolled with the punches. But this was different. I didn't have time to wash and iron a shirt at home. And I certainly didn't have the inclination to pull some random shirt out of the smelly hamper, complete with a dozen prominent wrinkles, and wear that as I proposed that evening. After one more search, thank God, they found my shirt. But now it was 6:40. I had asked the limo driver to meet Amy and me at my house at 6:45. I had quite an itinerary planned and I needed the evening to run like clockwork.
As I pulled out of the dry cleaners' parking lot onto Blanco Road, I called the limo driver's cell phone to get his approximate time of arrival. He was running behind schedule himself, caught in traffic on Loop 1604. I think there'd been a big accident.
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