Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Effingham, Baby

Here, briefly, is the story of asking Julie to marry me.

Wanting to keep it a small, intimate affair, I hired a dancing elephant. The elephant, named Salted, was trained to do a little tap dance to the tune of "Tea for Two" while dressed like a pirate and at the very end, present Julie with the ring on the end of his trunk. I picked up the elephant on Friday afternoon and put it in the backseat of the car under a blanket. Then I picked up Julie from her workplace and we headed to Clarksville.

My dad lives in Clarksville, Tennessee. Saturday night was a celebration for his 75th year of plodding around the planet in his underwear on Saturday mornings making grunting sounds. Not wishing to steal the thunder away from his 3/4 century marker, my plan was to propose to Julie on Friday evening in Effingham, Illinois. Effingham (say it out loud, it sounds like you are swearing at pork) is the halfway point between Chicago and Clarksville. I didn't know when I was going to ask her, but the elephant and I were ready to go when the perfect moment presented itself.

We arrived in Effingham at 7:30pm and got a room at the Paradise-On-A-Budget Motel. Not to skimp on such a special evening, I booked us The Luv Room. The Luv Room featured a round bed with a vibrating feature known as "magic fingers." Basically, this is a man named Chet who slept under the bed and would shake it for fifteen minutes at a time for a quarter. Yes, it's a little creepy to have a man named Chet under your bed, but you cannot argue the value we got per quarter. That was really the only feature that qualified it as a Luv Room. That and the broken lava lamp on the nightstand that had one long, snaking purple turd-like lava thing floating in it.

While one could not deny the electricity that was The Luv Room, it seemed more like a destination after proposing than the place to propose. So, we went to dinner.

If you are ever in Effingham, you must go to the Firefly Grill. It is a culinary sanctuary just off a strip choked with chain restaurants and gas stations. The space was warm, open and inviting. The staff friendly. The food excellent. They sat us at an intimate table for two near the bar and a magazine rack. Amanda, our server, had a great smile and demeanor. We felt welcomed and she was honest in her recommendations. She told us to make sure we saved room for the Firefly Grill's special dessert, caramel apple pecan cake! We ordered wine and a few appetizers. The spicy hummus is to die for!

As we took in the atmosphere, I decided that this was the perfect moment. I signaled to Salted, who entered after us and sat at the bar reading Us magazine, that it was "go" time. That was when all hell broke loose. Salted had a weakness for frozen strawberry margaritas and had been throwing them back like a middle-aged divorcee on ladies night. Salted broke out his boom box and, instead of playing "Tea for Two," cranked up the wobbly speakers and filled the room with "Here I Go Again." His dainty pirate tap dance became a cross between the Curly Shuffle and Godzilla stomping on Tokyo. Salted threw his weight around the room, knocking over tables, banging into servers with trays of food, and, most tragically, crushing a busboy. One could forgive the one crunchy accidental step that crushed his chest cavity, but it was when Salted did a breakdance spin on Pedro's limp body that the restaurant filled with a horrified silence.

Fortunately, no one saw me signal to Salted and assumed he was just another drunk pirate elephant on a bender in Effingham. Feigning inconsolability over Pedro's pulpy remains, I threw myself at Salted, who just laid there on his back, lamely trumpeting along to the Whitesnake tune that had already ended. There I palmed the engagement ring from Salted's nose and put it in my pocket. Julie and I grabbed our jackets and rushed towards the door making sure that we also grabbed the amazing caramel apple pecan cake to go.

If there's one thing I have learned in life and love and theater, it's always have a back-up plan. In the parking lot of the restaurant, I shot off the flare gun I keep strapped to my ankle. Within seconds, the U.S. Air Force sent the Thunderbirds air demonstration squadron flying overhead in formation. After a twisting-turning loopdeloo executed with split-second timing, the jets all released incendiary devices that lit up the sky. And when you stood right underneath them and looked up, the falling balls of fire spelled out "Marry Me." And Julie said yes. I slipped the ring on her finger and we held each other and the dessert tight as fire rained down around us.

The "-y Me" part of the proposal landed on the roof of the Firefly Grill and quickly reduced it to a pile of ashes and burnt elephant. They seemed like a pretty together outfit, so I'm sure they are insured and should be rebuilt by the time we're ready to celebrate our first anniversary.


Last Friday, I asked...

"Disneyland workers recently shut down the 'Pirates of the Caribbean" ride when cameras caught a woman doing what?"

31% said "Flashing Jack Sparrow"
- Nope. She kept her booty to herself.

18% said "Robbing the other people in her boat"
- Nope. Nor did she make anyone walk the plank.

12% said "Drinking rum and screaming "Yo-ho-HO!""
- Hey, now. That's really degrading to women. Even the pirates on the ride have been reprogrammed to say "Yee-hee-hee" and titter like little girls.

39% got it right with "Dumping human remains"

According to Orlando's Local 6 News, Disneyland workers were recently forced to close the "Pirates of the Caribbean" attraction after a ride security camera caught a woman apparently dumping human remains, in what may be a growing trend. Some Disney watchers said park-goers tell them that people smuggling in the cremated remains of their loved ones and then sprinkling ashes on rides has been going on for a while. They said it started at the "Haunted Mansion," but now the "Pirates of the Caribbean" ride is growing in popularity. That's awesome! Who wouldn't want to spend eternity at the happiest place on earth? Just don't sprinkle my ashes on the tea cup ride. I don't want to spend the afterlife spinning and hurling ectoplasm.


Anonymous said...

I call shenanigans.

Elephants HATE David Coverdale.

Lori said...

Wow, Congratulations Joe and Julie!

Anonymous said...

Simpsons did it.

Joe Janes said...

Hunh? Did what?