The Two-Night One-Night Wedding

 

 

JO ELLEN FROM DEFIANCE, Ohio, has a total of $1,680.

Frank from Little Rock, Arkansas, has a total of $2,550.

The illuminated screen underneath my fingertips shows my total is $5,340.

Alex Trebek announces the final category: the Ming Dynasty. Seriously? That’s a topic I know well. I’ve read books. Watched documentaries.

I pick up the pen, contemplating how much I’m willing to risk, take a breath, and scribble in my wager. $1.00. That way, I’m covered. Even if Frank bets it all and guesses correctly, he still won’t win.

The final clue is revealed: The army who wore red scarfs around their heads and led peasant uprisings against the Mongols.

I know instantly. Who is Hong Jin Jun? But I pick up my pen and neatly write out a completely different question. A life-altering question. One that needs to be asked in the most epic way possible. The pressure to get this perfect has been there for months. And I never thought I’d be able to do it, to pull off a proposal of this magnitude. I look out to the studio audience for Holly, but can’t spot her due to the blinding lights on stage. It doesn’t matter, I know she’s there.

The buzzer sounds and Alex begins with Jo Ellen, revealing her answer first. Who is Hong Jin Jun? She’s correct, risked it all and now has a total of $3,360. Alex moves on to Frank, who has also guessed correctly and doubles his total to $5100. Frank waits anxiously for my answer to be revealed, hoping I’ve guessed wrong and waged big. In our close proximity, I see sweat begin to form on his forehead, and his foot tapping nervously underneath the podium.

“Now we turn to Matthew, who has a daily total of $5,340. Let’s see if Matthew has answered correctly.” My screen is revealed, and Alex crinkles his brow while reading my words aloud. “You have written, ‘What is Holly will you marry me?’” He looks off set for a moment and takes a cue from one of the producers, who makes circular motions with his hands to roll with it. “Well folks, this is a little unorthodox, but it seems we have a proposal going on.” The audience roars to life, cheering. Hoots and hollers thunder in the studio. My heart pounds in my chest. I’m doing it. This is it.

“Holly, are you out there?” Alex addresses the audience. I hold my breath waiting for her to run up on stage, where I will then drop down on my knee and slide the sapphire engagement ring on her finger. She’ll say yes, perhaps even cry. I’ll pull her shaky hand into mine, stand up, and plant a kiss on her so hard it will nearly knock her off her feet. The proposal will go viral. It’ll go down as one of the most romantic proposals in history. Nothing ever seems to go quite perfectly for us, but finally, it will. After all the pressure I’ve put on myself to pull off the perfect proposal, I’ll have done it. And on top of that, I’ll walk away with over five thousand dollars in my pocket, enough to make up for some losses we encountered on a recent trip to Vegas.

I wait for Holly to run up.

She doesn’t come.

I cup my hands over my eyes to block out some of the light, and scan the crowd. I don’t see her. She’s not there. My heart races. My palms sweat. What’s going on?

Alex looks back over to the producer, who this time slices his neck with a taut hand. “I’m sorry, Matthew, that is incorrect. Let’s see what your wager was,” Alex quickly improvises.

“No.” I gulp. “No, Alex. Wait. She’s here. Holly!” I shout to the crowd, still searching. “Holly, where are you? Will you marry me? Holly!” What’s happening? Where is she? “Holly! You need to marry me!”

“I’m sorry, Matthew, the producers have just informed me that Holly’s answer is no, and she has left the studio. In our guidelines, we state that in the event of any rejected proposals, all winnings will be revoked.”

“What?” I can’t breathe. The walls are closing in. I clutch at my chest for air. My fingers graze the hairs on my exposed chest. Wait—what? Where’s my shirt? I slide my hand down to my pants pocket for the ring I have hidden away. No pants. Just skin. My eyes bulge open, my gaze dropping to my body. I’m naked. Buck naked. And to make matters worse, in my fearful state, I have an egg-in-nest situation going on. Peen shrinkage on national television.

“Help! Holly! Holly! Where are you? Holly!”

“Matthew, I’m right here.” A hand grips my shoulder and shakes me. “Matthew, wake up, you’re having a bad dream.”

My eyes fly open. The room is dark, and I sit up still grasping for breath as the studio disappears and my surroundings come into view. “Holly?”

“Yes, I’m right here.” She sits up next to me and runs a soothing hand over my back. “You were having a nightmare.”

“Oh God, it was awful,” I say, rubbing the sleep from my eyes, recalling the final moments of my dream.

“What happened? Do you want to tell me about it?” Her voice is calm, instantly relaxing me, and her hand gently cups my face.

Jeopardy! You weren’t there,” I try to explain as the nightmare fades and reality sets back in.

“You were on Jeopardy! and I wasn’t there? Of course I would be there. You know that.”

The tension in my muscles relaxes. I do know that. But these past few weeks, the pressure from myself and meddling family members to propose in an over the top, ultra-romantic way has been building, to the point where it’s been seeping into my subconscious and taking over my brain even while I sleep. Stressing like this over the perfect proposal needs to stop.

I love her. She loves me.

Our relationship may not be perfect. But Holly is. As long as she says yes, the moment will be perfect.

“Holly Ann Martin, I love you with all my heart. Will you marry me?”

“Oh my God,” she gasps. “Yes!”