Ben’s Side of Things:
The year was 2012. It was a fine year, indeed. I had been acting and working tech for shows strictly at the Overtime Theater for about 3 years prior, and had only lived in San Antonio that long. I had been wanting to branch out to other theaters in San Antonio, but didn’t know how to go about doing that. As fate would have it, I heard about auditions “Cabaret”, which was being produced by Allegro Stage Company in conjunction with Northwest Vista College. I fought with myself, battling nerves and fears, and made myself go to the auditions. It was time for me to start introducing myself to different theatrical experiences in San Antonio. Boy am I glad I auditioned and thank God I was cast, because the love of my life had signed on to be the stage manager for that production–only, I didn’t know it yet.
I didn’t have a lot of interaction with Amy during our time with “Cabaret.” I remember thinking ‘This girl’s got chutzpah!’ in reference to her stage management skills. A couple of years went by, during which Amy and I shared the stage in a number of other shows. I got to know her a little more, and the more I learned about her, the more I liked her. I wanted to ask her out on a date, but the timing never seemed right. Finally, I thought ‘I have waited too long, and I just have to make this happen.’ Literally within a couple days of making that decision, I ran into Amy and Aly and Allison at a Gala for the Woodlawn Theatre.
Aly and Allison were acting mighty strange, as if they wanted to tell me something. As soon as Amy walked far enough away from them, they pulled me aside and told me to ask Amy out. Ladies and gentlemen, if that’s not a sign, I don’t know what is. When Amy was with us again, any time she had her back turned, Aly and Allison were miming phones and mouthing “call her” to me. It was adorable, and just solidified my decision to ask Amy out. After about a week of planning and building up nervousness on top of the nervousness I already had, I asked her out.
I cannot tell this story without first telling the story of “The Search of the Ring.” When I decided that I want to spend the rest of my life with the genuinely phenomenal and supremely inspirational Amy Dullnig, I knew I wanted to give her the most fitting ring I could find. I searched high and low, near and far, online and IRL, and my journey led me to Americus Diamond.
When I walked into Americus Diamond, I was overwhelmed with the sea of diamond rings that were in front of me. Thankfully, about 4 people wanted to help me find what I was looking for. I had people pulling rings from all over the showroom. Each of them were beautiful, but only had one or two elements that I was looking for. I asked them if they could combine elements of 2 different rings to create one, and they said they could, but it wouldn’t be ready until April 20 (2016). I jumped on that opportunity and had them create a custom ring for me.
The days following, all the way until April 20, seemed so long. I just wanted to have the ring in my possession so I could start planning the proposal. When I finally got the ring and opened the box, I’m pretty sure I heard a choir of angel singing. Then, as I knew would probably happen, it was as if the ring was burning a hole in my pocket. I wanted to give it to Amy right away, but I hadn’t planned anything at that point (not specifically, anyways–I had been thinking about it for a while).
The next 2 days after I got the ring, I tried to figure out when and how I would talk to Amy’s parents to ask for her hand in marriage. I thought I’d ask them to lunch or dinner one day, and then BAM–Amy texted me the morning of Friday, April 22, that her parents wanted to have dinner with us that evening, and that they were leaving on a 15 day trip a couple days later. I knew it was time to talk to her parents, and possibly even pop the question to Amy. And thus, I started FREAKING OUT.
I texted Amy’s mom to ask her if I could meet with her and Richard earlier than Amy to talk about a secret surprise. She agreed that they would meet me there 30 minutes early. It was set, but I wasn’t prepared to see her parents that evening, much less ask them to join their family! I was wearing slip-resistant sneakers, jeans, and a work shirt. Thankfully, the women that I worked with at the time were very excited and wanted to do anything they could to help me, so they told me I could take an early lunch and go to Target to get a new shirt.
I ran to Target, picked out about 3 options, took photos, and sent them to the ladies at work to get their opinion. I bought the winner, ran back to work, and then tried it on. It was too small. I ran back to Target, picked out a different shirt because they didn’t have a larger size of the one I originally picked, TRIED IT ON, and bought it because it fit! While I was there, my boss told me to pick up some new shoes since I was wearing slip-resistant sneakers, and she’d pay me back for them. So…I got some new shoes along with my new shirt!
I ran back to the office and finished working (distractedly), and prepared my mind for what was about to happen. This is a little thing and seems silly now, but I realized that I WAS WEARING BLACK SOCKS WITH BROWN SHOES. I didn’t have time to go back to Target and get white socks! Then it hit me–I had bought some white socks to wear as the Scarecrow in “The Wizard of Oz” about a year and half prior, and the package was still in my glove compartment in my car (I kept them in there “just in case”)!
I took that not only as a sign that I was supposed to ask Amy’s parents for her hand in marriage, but to also ask Amy for her hand in marriage. Not only was I certain that this event was my “just in case” need for socks, but “The Wizard of Oz” was the show Amy and I were both in when we started dating. Also, I wasn’t even supposed to see Amy that evening because she had a rehearsal, which was canceled that morning (thus, the dinner plans). All signs pointed to asking Amy that night to marry me.
I met with Amy’s parents, and they pretty much got straight to the point as soon as we sat down. Sue, Amy’s mother, asked why we were meeting early. I said something like, “I hope you know that I am very much in love with your daughter. She is an amazing person, and I would love to spend the rest of my life with her as her husband.” I suppose they were surprised that I brought the subject up, because there was a bit of silence and wide-eyed glances at each other. They asked me some questions about my past and plans for the future, I showed them the ring (which was concealed not very well in my pocket), and then they welcomed me to the family!Amy joined us a little bit later (they had seated her at a different table, not realizing that she was in our party), and we all ate dinner.
Then, it was the moment of truth: the proposal. To give it context, I have to tell the story of “How I Told Amy I Love Her.” I’ll be as concise as I can. We saw a movie. I walked her to her car, and we stood outside it talking for several minutes (like we normally do because we just don’t want the night to be over). The whole time, I wanted to say those three words to her, but I chickened out. We parted ways–she drove home and I drove the opposite way towards my house. I thought, ‘WHAT ARE YOU THINKING, YOU DUMMY? YOU LOVE HER. TELL HER.’ So, with some encouragement, I pulled over and texted Amy that I forgot to give her something and that I was going to turn around and go to her place to give it to her. I got there, and asked her to come outside because “it’s in my car.” We got out to my car and I said, “I forgot to give you one last kiss”–I kissed her–“…and my heart. Because I love you.”
Back to the proposal–I wanted to do something similar, except the “thing” I “forgot” to give her would be the ring. So after dinner, I was going to give it a few minutes, and then go to Amy’s house to surprise her, but SHE WAS GOING WITH HER PARENTS TO THEIR HOUSE, which threw a wrench in the works. They all left, and I sat in the parking lot, trying to devise a plan B. I had the same kind of encouragement as the night I told Amy I love her, and decided that I would go to her parents’ house to surprise her there. But I didn’t have their address… I called around to Aly and Allison to see if they had the Dullnigs’ address, but they didn’t. Then, I asked my realtor friend Haley if she could look them up in the property tax records, and she could! She gave me the address, I drove there, and Amy wasn’t there…
There was no stopping me. I thought, ‘Too bad. I guess I’m going to Amy’s house now,’ and didn’t even text her to let her know “I forgot something.” Katie (Amy’s roommate) answered the door and invited me inside. Amy had already gotten into comfortable clothes and was relaxing on the couch. I said that I forgot to give her something. She asked what, and I goofily said, “One last kiss,” and kissed her quickly, laughing. I continued, “But really, I did. It’s out in my car.” We both stood there, and then she said, “Oh…you want me to come with you!” and then she put some sandals on to go outside with me.
Everything from this point on felt like it was in slow motion. We walked toward my car, but half way, I stopped, turned around, and said, “I didn’t actually forget to give you something, and it’s not in my car.” Then, I pulled the ring out of my pocket, dropped to a knee, and asked Amy to be my wife. She said yes! I became the happiest and luckiest guy ever. We hugged, kissed, and even high-fived. I told her to go back inside and relax, and that I’d see her the next morning for brunch. The whole thing was awkwardly adorable, just like us. 🙂