He was the new assistant to my talent manager, and I was the aging ingenue. He answered the phone after an horrendous audition and made me feel better.He called me two days later to tell me that I was the second choice,which was really nice to know.Usually nobody cares unless you got the part. We had a get-to-know-you lunch in April, a movie date in May ("Welcome to the Dollhouse"), and a concert date in June (Natalie Merchant at the Greek). Three dates in three months we were official- in secret, of course, as he would have likely lost his job. It was kind of fun in the beginning. We had sleepovers and then would see each other at a function the next day and make polite small talk so no one got suspicious. Eventually he left the company, and I followed suit. Everyone had warned him not to date an actress,as I must have been using him to further my career. He was living in a foul apartment in Mariner's Village with a roommate and making four twenty five a week,so I wouldn't exactly call myself a gold digger. I just liked him instantly because he was handsome and sweet, with beautiful brown eyes and an infectious laugh.
After nine years of dating, he decided to pop the question on May 7th, 2004. He purchased the ring by himself, after tireless stealth research to determine what the finest of the three C's was available and affordable. He called my father to ask permission and planned a surprise attack that remains unmatched by any other engagement story that I have heard:
He was a partner at a literary and talent management company. At the time,he had a writer client whose pitch had sold for an unprecedented amount. It literally broke records. Everyone involved was beyond ecstatic. On Monday, he mentioned in passing that the writer wanted to get together on Friday to celebrate-some sort of picnic in the park thing. I made a mental note and,as the week wore on, had no idea what was about to occur. Friday arrived and he came home early and told me that we were going to hike into Griffith Park, from the top of Beachwood Canyon, on the horse trail.We were to meet up with the writer's family and have a celebration in the woods. They had a babysitter coming to help with their new baby, and we were supposed to meet just south of the trail head on the road. The whole idea appealed to my hippy dippy side, as most things Hollywood are celebrated at the Chateau Marmont, which is the polar opposite of a rendezvous under the trees.As the sun started dipping,we walked up the dirt trail for about forty five minutes, my boyfriend limping along for some unknown reason, and arrived at the top where the road appeared. We began to walk down the road and were greeted by a poncho clad red haired man named Dean aka. the babysitter.I remember thinking that this was the first "manny" I had actually had the pleasure of meeting. He apologized in advance, but the family was running late and he had been sent on ahead to make sure we found the location and weren't wandering around the park all evening. He led us off the road and down a secluded trail where the sounds of acoustic guitar wafted up into the air. We hiked down a short rocky path, which ended right next to a gigantic boulder with small flat area beneath it that overlooked the western side of the park. The view went all the way to the ocean,which was shimmering gold in the distance. Before us lay an Indian blanket covered with terra cotta pots of all shapes and sizes;huge vases of sunflowers, throw pillows and champagne. I quickly realized that this was a set up for two and that the guitarist perched above us on the rock was not some dude coincidentally communing with nature. I remember thinking that this was such an original way to thank someone for their hard work(usually a whopping commission check does the trick),and how could we ever thank the writer enough for this wonderful evening? We sat cross legged on the blanket, as the sun began to set,and Dean knelt down to explain what we would be eating. He lifted the lids off each pot one by one to reveal delicious ethnic food tailored to our weird eating habits. The last dish was dessert and for some reason, I was really hoping for tiramisu. He lifted off the lid and said "and last but not least...." to reveal a dish filled with enormous red strawberries. I was momentarily disappointed until I saw the most beautiful diamond ring I have ever seen nestled in their midst. I looked up at my boyfriend and clapped my hand over my mouth. He burst into tears and choked out the words "will you marry me?" and I said " Of course!" and we hugged and kissed and cried and drank champagne and watched the sun set. It was all ridiculously perfect and romantic, and I was truly fooled until the reveal. A white horse even galloped down the trail in the distance as we ate strawberries. He told me that he was limping because he had been hiking into the park daily in his dress shoes scouting the perfect location with Dean, the manny, who was actually an event planner.
I have been asked by people afterward if I saw it coming. I suppose the set up story was a bit of a stretch,so I guess that makes me gullible.
The answer is no. I had no idea. We had been together forever, and I guess I figured we would discuss it more before hand and have it be more of a mutual decision. Most of our big decisions until then had been mutual (except for investing in that racehorse,dear), and considering that I didn't want to get married or have kids when we met, he really took quite a risk that day.
I actually remember the moment I fell in love with him. We were at the beach one Saturday,back when I could wear a bathing suit in public, and a baby seal wandered up out of the surf and lay on the sand. The lifeguards set up a cone perimeter to keep the throngs of people away. We asked what it was doing there and the lifeguard told us that they have less and less space on land to rest because people are spreading out so much. "they get tired and need to rest" he said. My boyfriend looked stricken "That's awful," he said, his voice cracking just a little. He shooed a few kids away that were getting too close, and I knew then that he was a decent man, someone I could spend a lifetime with. It didn't hurt that he turned out to be such an amazingly thoughtful, generous, funny, smart, sweet person. He is a wonderful father and an attentive husband, and why he has put up with the likes of me for going on fifteen years, I will never know.
So Happy Anniversary, Honey! I love you more than anyhting. As much as it irritates the crap out of me, thanks for making everything you do an event. It has been an amazing decade and half, and a wonderful five years of marriage. I may be the luckiest person I know.