Project Thunderball: carving a pumpkin in a back alley

It’s not every day I hollow out a secret pumpkin in a back alley of Indianapolis. But that’s what I did with my Friday afternoon.

Every year Jeremiah and his closest friends host their annual pumpkin carving party. This being the first year he wouldn’t be able to attend, since flying 600 miles to carve a pumpkin is a wee bit out of the budget. I set out to change that tradition by building something on top of it. I asked him to marry me.

The planing started months ago, but really took off in September when Jeremiah went to Connecticut to visit friends and family for a week. While he was doing that I was busy running around town looking for a ring. I have opinions about that, but that’s another post.

I kept everything a tight secret, only telling two close friends and limiting my online interactions, including marking my Strava-tracked bike rides to certain places as “private” and setting calendar reminders and to-do list items under a special label called “Thunderball”.

This past Wednesday I went to the Aristocrat with an unusual request. I asked the staff there to help me deliver a special pumpkin on Saturday evening. I would bring the pumpkin to them on Friday afternoon, carved with a lid, and with two rings placed inside.

They agreed to waive their “no reservations” rule and the general manager, Melissa, and owner David, were both incredibly accommodating. My thanks to them and their crew.

Come Friday afternoon I left under the excuse I needed to return a library book. Instead, I took two rings in my bike bag and headed for Broad Ripple where I picked up a small pumpkin and carving kit.

Since I couldn’t gut it at home I ended up carving a pumpkin in the back alley of 52nd and College. There I sat, on a tree stump next to a dumpster in full bike gear, listening to Wait Wait Don’t Tell me on my iPhone and carving a pumpkin.

The rings fit neatly into the middle of the pumpkin when I was done, and I took it to the Aristocrat where they locked it away and kept it until Saturday evening.

On Saturday I kept the secret close to heart, even going so far as claiming we didn’t have anything to do while at the Irvington halloween festival. It wasn’t until later in the afternoon I suggested we should go to the Aristocrat for dinner. The Aristocrat was the first place I ever ate out at here in Indy, and the first place we went for dinner when we moved here from Connecticut.

I knew Jeremiah was sincerely in love with me the day he seriously considered moving here to Indiana. He uprooted a lot to be with me. Or maybe it was just the lower rent. Either way, it’s worked out well.

Come 6:30, I decided chicken salad sounded good for dinner. And at dinner, per the plan I worked out with the Aristocrat, we were sat at a special booth reserved for us — table 31 in the back left corner. The pumpkin arrived with the check.

“I wonder what’s inside?” I asked, as Jeremiah lifted the lid.

He said yes.

And since I suspect he’s reading this post, now’s a good time to point out Surprise Number 2, done in only a way I could do. It’ll fill out in the next couple weeks and be our place to share future details and plans, as well as current happenings. One side is for me, one side is for him.

Mission accomplished.

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