In 2009 one of our first real dates was a surprise organised by Jon, and I had no idea what I was getting into when he drove around the corner and I saw a giant pink heart entrance to what could only have been Madame Zingara. At that stage, it was in Rosebank. For those of you who don’t know, Madame Zingara originated in Cape Town and is a traveling circus come dinner theatre in the wackiest tent you will ever be in, filled with entertainment by human circus characters. The supper is 5-star and they’re famous for their crazy waiters and amazing chocolate fillet. Needless to say, coming from a small town just moved to the big, bright city, things like this were very new to me. And also, I’d never been on a real date before. Dates consisted of a Wimpy burger, drinks at Backline Night Club, or if they were feeling especially morantic, a beachfront picnic.
That was up until the day I met Jon. Jon changed everything I ever knew about dating, the other sex, and especially love. Jon turned my version and expectation of love right on its head. Madame Zingara 2009 was the start of it all, really. So when we went back to the dinner show on Friday night, we were really excited.
As we arrived, I could tell it was going to be special. I immidiately realised how much we’ve changed as a couple. The first time round, we didn’t buy any props or paint our faces, we were too shy. We sat at a nice table and loved the experience last time, but this time we were the experience. Our faces had much paint, our heads were a-propped, we had quite a bit to drink and we just let our hair down and enjoyed everything going on around us.
Jon was quite keen on loads of selfies, which should’ve been my first clue, but instead I focused on how he didn’t want me to go for a smoke after dinner. Because he had drunk quite a bit, PartyJon came out to play which is all fair and well usually, but I was slightly annoyed (read: very) at him being so drunk on such a fun evening. I mean, he was buying other couples at other tables shooters! At Madame Zingara! Who does that?! Also, his palms were super sweaty too and he was all handsy and touchy-touchy in that drunken annoying way. And he didn’t want me to go for a smoke after dinner. So inconsiderate, honestly.
Of course, I am a grown-ass woman and no amounts of “But you can’t go smoke, the show’s about to start again!” and “OMG, come back insiiiiiiide, they’re setting up the stage alreadyyyyy!” phonecalls, I went outside and had my damn smoke because I could and I wanted to and Jon was drunk and omgsoannoying and didn’t he know that just because we were having fun it was no reason to just drink everything in sight like it was our last night on earth?!
Eventually, after another SMS or two and a few more missed calls, I felt bad and sent him a Whatsapp:
I hurried back to our table, to a very ecstatic-looking Jon (Gosh, he’s so happy I didn’t miss the next set of the show?) (DING, DING, DING, DUMBASS – SECOND CLUE!) and I sat down, only to look up and find the Absinthe Fairy standing above me on the stage, holding out her hand, willing me to get up onto the stage with her. Excuse me? No, thank you! But of course, Jon, the waiters, the theatre manager and eventually even the crowd all started cheering and unless I wanted to look like a party-pooping asshole, I had no choice but to get up onto the stage. And that’s when I noticed that they’d erected a giant bird cage, with a bench inside to sit on.
Absinthe Fairy opened the door of the cage for me and helped me climb in. At the time I was too busy hyperventilating to really wonder why Jon followed me on the stage, but I definitely remember thinking AS THEY LIFTED ME AND THE CAGE TWO STORIES HIGH INTO THE FREAKING AIR!!!!!!, “Jon should really get off the stage, seriously, what if this cage drops with me in it and we squash him to death!” followed by, “I mean, seriously, why does he need to draw even more attention to me like this! LOOK AT HIM, HE’S GETTING THE CROWD TO CLAP FOR ME! ARGGGH, JUST SIT DOWN, JON! GET OFF THE STAGE!”.
After leaving me up in the air for
hours a few minutes, they slowly started lowering me down. I felt relief in my now white knuckles as I loosened the death grip I had on the cage, and started looking around. I had a bell in my hand that said “ring for sex”, which I thought was quite funny. I rang it. Instead of sex, I looked down to Jon holding something up for me to see. It was way too high up still and I was still very annoyed and so I shouted down, my voice completely drowned out by the now cheering, whistling and clapping crowd, “I can’t see anything, damnit! I’m too high! Just wait til we’re back at the table!”, and then a few meters lower I realised something.
Jon wasn’t standing at all.
He was down on bended knee.
And what I thought he was trying to drunkenly show me while I was in the cage, was in fact a very beautiful, very sparkly and very diamondy engagement ring.
Side note: I’ve thought about this moment often over the years Jon and I have been together. How I would delicately nod my head while simultaneously looking up at Jon lovingly, with one lady-like tear rolling down my cheek, and I’d silently smile and kiss him in answer, followed by a very positively enforced “Yes, Jon, I will marry you!”.
Except, none of that happened.
My brain froze and my body wasn’t much better. All I could think was how I couldn’t believe he was doing this in front of four hundred and twenty people and that it was the last thing I ever expected him to do for a proposal – THIS IS JON! HE IS SO SHY! WHAT IS GOING ON? OMG, HE’S ASKING ME TO MARRY HIM! And so I did what I’ve been thinking about all these years. I looked at him in absolute shock, with one hand over my mouth and the other over my heart, said “OH. MY. FUCK.” in a very shaky voice and then froze up.
And eventually, after
years a few moments, his eyebrow was raised and he started looking a little worried and kind of had to prompt me with his head nodding ‘yes?’, and then shaking his head ‘no?’, with a visual question mark hanging between us. He eventually ended up opening the cage door, which broke my daze and I leaped out at him laughing and nodding my head, right before I nearly knocked him off the stage by giving him the biggest kiss. He put the ring on my finger as the crowd whistled, cheered, shouted and stomped their feet thunderously.
The only thing I could do as we sat back down at our table was to stare at my very obviously NOT DRUNK
boyfriend fiancé in absolute surprise. The whole thing had been a rouse. He’d planned it all. He couldn’t stop giggling at me, and I couldn’t stop staring at him. We sat through the rest of the show in agony, all I wanted to do was get out of there to ask him all the questions running through my head, to phone our parents, to know every single detail he’d gone to, to INSTAGRAM MY ENGAGEMENT RING. But sat through the show we did, and I’m so glad because afterwards we had what felt like every single person under that theatre tent come up to congratulate us. And the feedback from everyone was so amazing. Although I was in complete shock, it made me realise what an epic proposal I’d just received. And it’s all on video (being edited, will post ASAP).
And so, after standing outside the outdoor venue finally alone, we phoned our parents and a few friends we knew would be awake, and Jon told me all I could think of to ask him, and then gave me the most beautiful speech about why he wanted to marry me (keeping that bit to myself because some things are too sacred, even for this blog) and we started walking to our car. Which, upon arrival, we found to be dead.
Yep, battery flat. No power, nothing, fokol, nada. At 1am in the morning. After trying to start over and over again, I looked over to Jon and demanded to know if he was pranking me. I mean, this is an Audi A3 for goodness sakes, and it had been serviced not even a week previously, there wasn’t supposed to be anything wrong with it! He was hysterically laughing, and promised he had nothing to do with it.
Half an hour later, Audi Assist arrived and had us up and running within minutes. After all the excitement, Jon announced that he hadn’t eaten and was starving (flashback to me being an asshole, at the time I thought it was because he was “SO DRUNK! YOU’RE NOT EVEN EATING THIS AMAZING FOOD!”. He confessed that he had to put on an act because he knew he was acting out of sorts and didn’t want me to realise it was because he was so goddamned nervous. That man. I love him so much. Hunger called and so we headed off in a different direction than our usual route home, to McDonalds.
Straight. Into. A. Roadblock.
I shit you not.
As I was confidently announcing to Jon, “Since being a legal driver, I have never been pulled over. Tonight will not be that night. It will not ruin my innings”, the cop pulled us over.
“I want you to understand, if you’ve had more than even half a glass of alcohol, tonight I will arrest you to spend the weekend in jail. Do you understand?”
Oh, shit. Cue visions of me spending the weekend in jail and Jon having to call my mother back again, at now 1:45am in the morning, this time to tell her he made me drink and that I am in jail (scariest thing, the one thing I was more worried about was having to give Jon back my ring because lawd knows I aint going to jail with it!).
With very big eyes, I told the cop that I had had more than half a glass of alcohol, because we’d just gotten engaged and were celebrating. Not a flicker of emotion in his eyes when he told Jon and I to “talk fast, my boss is coming with a breathaliser, what do you want to do?” as he eyed our wallets. Both wallets were empty, save for a collective R14 in coins. The cop laughed, told us that just because we’d gotten engaged, he’d let us go. And he did.
Jon and I cackled uncontrollably as I drove off. We couldn’t believe this night! You’d think after a scare like that we’d go straight home. My man’s tummy wasn’t having any of that and he demanded food in that belly. Off to the drive-through we went.
And so we ended off our engagement evening as any classy couple would.
In bed with McNuggets, soda and fries, covered in smeared face paint and ecstatic smiles for each other.
We were fast asleep 20 minutes later.