We were vacationing in Fort Lauderdale in December of 1999.  Paul had bought the ring months before and had already put off the proposal once (unbeknownst to Jessica) because of a death in his family.  A relaxing day and a romantic dinner were followed by a stroll on the beach.  After standing on the sand and gazing at the beautiful Atlantic Ocean and the stars for several minutes, Paul looked at Jessica, dropped to one knee, and quietly recited several lines from her favorite poem, Walt Whitman’s To You, Whoever You Are: 

“Now I place my hand upon you, that you be my poem;
I whisper with my lips close to your ear, 
‘I have loved many women and men, but I love none better than you.’” 

As he said this he took the ring (which he had cleverly hidden before dinner) out of his pocket and began to put it on her finger.  Jessica, overcome with shock, disbelief, and what can only be described as temporary insanity, reached out, shoved him on the arm and said: “Shut up!”  According to Jessica, this “shut up” did NOT mean, “stop talking.”  It actually meant, “I can’t believe it!” 

Of course, this subtle difference in meaning was not entirely clear to poor Paul at that time.  He got a look of consternation on his face, stopped for a moment, then answered, “No, I won’t stop.  What’s that supposed to mean?”  Somewhere about that time Jessica managed to regain her senses.  She made Paul stand up, put her arms around him and said, “yes, Paul Eric Greenberg, I will marry you.”

We then decided that we wanted to be out in public so we could share our happiness with random strangers.  We walked off of the beach and across the street to the fortuitously-located Margarita Café, an establishment decorated in what can only be described as early Mexican-American schmaltz.  The place wasn’t exactly crowded, but we decided we liked its vibe. 

We went in and were met by Irvin, an unusually beefy bartender with a large walrus mustache, an extremely tight red t-shirt and a sadly unsuitable Santa hat.  Irvin was a stroke of good luck: after telling him that he was the first person in the world to hear of our engagement, he showered us with all the congratulations we could have hoped for (as well as numerous free drinks).  Then, in a particularly princely gesture, he let us use the bar phone to call our parents long distance and tell them the news.

So, now we are still basking in the thrill of New Year's Eve; it was the most special night we've ever had, and we are grateful to everyone who shared it with us!