Alright, folks, here's what happened. For those of you who want it, Kate's version (which is mostly true) is here.
It starts back in May. Kate and I went ring shopping. We didn't plan on getting too specific (yeah, like I believe that...), but by the end of the shopping trip we had picked out the very ring. Much to the dissapointment of the folks at the jeweler, we left with no ring in hand. This happened for several reasons, but one of them was that it is a big investment and I don't like buying something like that without doing serious looking around. Heck, I don't like buying socks without some serious looking around.
When I told the family that I was looking at rings, I heard that I should ask Mark, a family friend who is a jeweler in Salt Lake. That was where Dad bought Mom's ring. I contacted Mark and found a ring I really liked. I liked it better than the one we picked together, but it still had the qualities that she said she liked about the other one. I really liked it. Anyway, by this time Kate had left Utah for Texas, so there wasn't much rush to buy - I had a month before I was going to see her again.
I was also told of another friend of a friend named Roger who was also a jeweler (I swear, everyone I know knows a jeweler). I got in touch with Roger, and he took a while getting back with me. He scoffed at the size I wanted, and was only able to find me one that small in the cut I wanted. (In my defense, it was not a terribly small diamond, it's just a cut that is generally used for huge friggin things). He gave me the price on that one small diamond (again, small to him, not to me), which cost WAY more than Mark was saying, and several more that were all much bigger (and further out of my price range). He assured me that I had misheard Mark, and that no one could get me a .75 carat asscher cut diamond ring for less than $4000, and that he was coming down quite a bit to get me that $4000 as it was.
Anyway, I did not spend $4000. Sorry if that disapoints anybody. I thanked Roger for his time and called Mark to say we were a go. On June first, I drove up to Salt Lake to finalize everything. Because I was going to drive from Provo to Texas, and I didn't want to lose the ring in the car, I told Mark to do what he had to do and then just ship the ring to Mom and Dad's house in Texas.
Mark told me that he had the diamond there, but that the setting he would have to order special (I had seen the diamond in person, but only seen the setting as a picture). It would take about 2 weeks from that day for him to order it, receive it, set it, ship it, and for me to get it. That seemed pretty great to me.
Two weeks later (ie, the day he said it would already be in Texas), it was Monday. I was getting ready to leave Provo on Tuesday and still hadn't heard anything so I called Mark. He told me that getting the setting was taking longer than he expected, but it would get there soon and he would keep me posted.
I drove to Texas Tuesday and Wednesday, picked Kate up in Daingerfield, and drove to Huntsville Thursday. Still no ring. But at that point, it was harder to call Mark since Kate was around. She spent Thursday and Friday in Huntsville, and I drove her home Friday night and came back to Huntsville on Saturday morning alone.
I didn't have a chance to talk to Mark till Monday. I called him again and explained that there was a bit of hurry-up involved in the situation. He told me that the setting had still not come, but that he expected it that day. He would set it and ship it the next day (Tuesday) and I would have it in my hand on Wednesday. Kate came down for another visit Tuesday and Wednesday.
Now, let me remind you, dear reader, that Kate has known for some time that she was getting a ring. She has been expecting it. Tuesday at lunch she asked, ever so sweetly, "where the hell's my ring, you jerk?" and I answered that it just wasn't here yet. Which was true. I said that I was very frustrated, which was also true. I also said that I had talked to the jeweler and that he didn't have the setting yet, but that it would be in soon. That had at one point been true, so I figured it was OK. I just figured that if she knew what it looked like, and she knew that it was coming, at least I could surprise her with the exact timing.
On Wednesday, Dad wanted to take us out to lunch, and I realized when Mom, Kate, and I were in the car together that there would be nobody home for an hour and if the fedex guy came, he would miss us. It was too late to say anything without raising suspicion, so I just hoped the guy wouldn't come till we got back.
When we got back, there was a tag on the door saying the fedex guy had come, and we could either pick up the package after 7 in Conroe, or they would deliver it tomorrow. I snuck off and called fedex. I explained to them that the package had a diamond ring inside, and that the finger that ring was going on was leaving town in about 2 hours. They called the driver and the driver called me back a few minutes later saying he was in Riverside making deliveries and could wait for me for a couple minutes.
I told Kate and Mom (Mom knew) that fedex needed a David Payne to sign for a package containing medicine for Dad, and since Dad was busy I was going to pick it up. Not my best lie ever, but it worked. Kate and I drove out to get the package and came back without anything interesting happening.
One more semi-relevent piece of backstory. Last year, John bought me a bookbox for my birthday. I've kept it in my front room since then filled with candy. People who spend time in apartment 6 know it well. It's something of an inside joke for us, and Kate was on the inside of that joke. So, I thought I was very clever and bought a bookbox of Lord of the Rings to give to Kate.
When we got back from picking up the ring, I asked Mom to put the ring in the Lord of the Rings, and wrap the whole thing up like a birthday present (both because she could make it prettier than I could and because I was going to be busy distracting Kate). Later in the day, Kate and I were sitting on the porch talking on the swing. We had talked previously about the fact that I was going to give her an early Birthday present (since I wouldn't be in Texas for her real birthday). I asked her if since the ring wasn't here yet, she would want to open the part of her birthday surprise that was. She, of course, said yes. Who says no to presents?
I went inside, and got the book box, wrapped up in wrapping paper like a birthday present should be. I came out and said "It's about time you had one of these. Keep it on your coffee table." Those two statements were, of course, about different parts of the gift, but I tried to play it cool so she would only think about the second part and think about a book box.
She unwrapped it and knew it was not a real book, but thought there was only candy or something like that inside (since she knows that's what I keep in mine). When she opened it, there was a small jewelry box inside. Remember that she thought that the ring wasn't here yet, so she thought that it was earrings or some other small piece of jewelry. She opened the ring and stared at it for a while. Then she put it on and stared at it for a while.
And that's about the end of the fun part of the story. The rest is hugging and showing the ring to Mom and stuff like that. And let's be honest, that's not exciting to anybody but us. The exciting part is that she said yes.