The most epic surprise of my life: how it all went down

I feel the same way I did when I saw the ending of Usual Suspects. [Spoiler alert: if you haven’t seen the 1995 movie yet, you won’t have to. That’s your fault.] I liken it to the moment Kevin Spacey finishes telling the detective his elaborate alibi about the crazy, vengeful, criminal mastermind Keyser Soze, and limps out of the police station scot free because of it. The person I empathize with most is the gullible detective who, in a moment of horror, realized too late that the entire alibi was improvised from bits and pieces of information found on objects in the police station. There was no Keyser Soze, and Kevin Spacey didn’t really have a limp. KEVIN SPACEY WAS KEYSER SOZE! Kevin Spacey, you are a crazy genius.

Basically, I was majorly Kevin Spacey-ed last weekend by my now-fiance JP and all my friends. Here’s how it all went down:

The weekend began uneventfully. We had a few plans that JP wanted to bail on, and we did. A 9 year old’s birthday, a reunion brunch, Chinese New Year festivities – all were canceled in favor of a “nice, chill weekend.” The only thing I had to look forward to was my monthly dinner and a manicure with my friend Stasia.

Henyay y Estasia. We thought of clever Spanish names for ourselves.

Henyay y Estasia. We thought of clever Spanish names for ourselves.

This should have been tip off #1. Stasia knows I hate manicures. I didn’t even get a manicure for her wedding, because right before my prom night I saw a manicurist accidentally cut my friends’ finger with a sharp clipper and proceed to stop the bleeding by painting over the cut with NAIL GLUE. To me, manicures are hellacious staph infections waiting to happen.

But, Stasia really wanted to get a manicure, and I was feeling particularly un-germaphoby that day, so I got one. With the weekend in mind, Stasia made sure I didn’t paint my nails rainbow colors or this ugly hot pink color that I was eying. This is true friendship. I went to sleep that night full and with very nice nails, suspecting nothing.

The next day, JP and I decided to eat lunch at Atlas Cafe in Potrero Hill. Tip off #2 happened here: Per usual, I was dressed like a borderline homeless person, and about to leave my apartment wearing glasses.

JP to me: “You sure you want to wear glasses?”

Me: “Yeah, why not?”

JP: “It’s sunny and the UV rays are bad for your eyes. Wear your contacts and bring your sunglasses.”

JP, thank you for preventing me from looking like a total hobo on the happiest day of my life.

While we were at Atlas Cafe, I tapped into my creepy Facebook stalker tendencies to walk right into my own proposal. As I was scanning my newsfeed I noticed that our friends Sean and Kerry were at Dolores Park with their adorable kiddies. I love adorable kiddies, so I suggested to JP that we walk over to say hi if we had time. In his own words, he thought this was “a great idea!”

Tip off #3 happened here:

JP to me: Hey, can you hold these headphones? I don’t like my fingers touching wires when they’re in my pocket.

Me to myself: OK, you weirdo. I’ll hold your wires and get wire poisoning.

We got to the park and ran into Sean, Kerry, and the girls having a picnic by the playground area. I attempted to hug the girls and they ran away because I repel children. Everything was right in the world.

And then things got really weird.

JP got up to go to the bathroom and left me with the kids. I immediately got 4 Tweets from my friends at work. They looked like this:

engagement tweets

Obviously, I thought someone had died, or that there were naked pics of me somewhere on the internet that I needed to take down immediately.

Me to Kerry: “Weird, I just got spammy Tweets from my coworkers. I’m scared to open this!”

Me to Myself: Did someone get their hands on that video of me falling down while dancing to Gangnam Style when I was in Austin (true story)?!! Shatballs.

Tip off #4: Kerry looked at me, then leaned back smugly and said nothing.

Me to Kerry, silently and telepathically: “WTF KERRY!”

The tweets linked to a video, so I played it on my phone. OH! Coincidentally, I had a pair of headphones in my pocket thanks to stealthy JP (see “wire poisoning” reference above).

Tip off #5: The video was a photo montage of me before 2008 (the year we started dating), found via Facebook Graph Search. Trust me, there is nothing more terrifying than someone tweeting you a slideshow of your own photos from Facebook Graph Search. Then, a similar photo montage of JP before 2008 flashed on the screen.

This is where I started quasi hyperventilating. I actually felt numb.

What didn’t help was that my other friends Texas, Cal, Jae, and Andy started popping out of nowhere taking pictures with monster-sized SLRs. I actually noticed the fact that they were wearing sweet disguises like fedoras and beanies first, and the SLRs second. As each friend came into my line of vision, I was unable to do anything but half shriek-squawk loudly to greet them.

Having not even finished half of the video, I spun around to find JP down on one knee. Frozen, I didn’t know what to do, or even what I was feeling aside from a complete lack of bladder control. I was pretty certain I was going to pee in my pants. I stared at him, and he stared at me.

JP to me: “Gen, come here.”


I could not find words, nor could my feet find movement. Finally, I stumbled over to him and we both blacked out. I don’t remember what was said, but I do remember that we ended up like this:


There were tears of joy all around, and then suddenly everyone had a Chinese New Year dinner to go to. Tip off #6: They weren’t all Chinese.

Sean to me: “Sorry Gen, I feel rude leaving now but the girls are so tired.”

Me, still somewhat blacked out: “No worries, see you tomorrow!”

I called my parents to share the good news. They didn’t pick up and I figured they were totally over the engagement news already and at Costco or something, so I called my brother Garrett.

Garrett to me, jokingly: “Gen, did something happen? Why are you using your excited voice? I’m at Mission Bowling Club with Steph and it’s on the way to your car – stop by so we can congratulate you!”

After walking a few blocks, I was able to calm down. I was so happy and relieved, and just ready to have a nice peaceful weekend.

But then this happened!


Thanks HANA for taking these awesome pics!

More tears, hugs, and tears ensued. This is where it was confirmed that everyone I knew had been lying to me from anywhere between a week to a month. Even the photographers + Sean and Kerry had just lied to me, saying that they had to leave early –  just so they could get to the surprise party on time! As I looked around Mission Bowling and saw my family, friends, coworkers, and especially friends from out of town, I started bawling behind my giant Lady Gaga-themed sunglasses. Not cute bawling, either.

I clandestinely swallowed a baby aspirin to prevent myself from having a heart attack. It was the end of a perfect day, and the beginning of a new life together.

Well played, fiancé. Well played. 🙂