Yes, we're engaged. Everyone knows that. But how did it happen?
That's a great question. Let me tell you the story of how I proposed to Elisha.
It all started with The Frame to Blessedness, a mythological window to pure love and wholeness thought to have been lost forever. Of course, we didn't think we would ever find it. Then, one day, Turtullius, an immortal turtle, told us that he had hidden it behind our refrigerator during the reign of the Ancient Roman Empire. I...uh. Yes.
Anyway, we looked behind our fridge, and there it was. Turtullius had revealed its location to us because he felt that we might be The Seer. Unfortunately, The Frame was not entirely intact when we found it. Though the actual frame section of it was there, it was empty. We knew (because Turtullius told us) that The Frame had once contained one large (and intact) picture that would turn into the aforementioned window to pure love and wholeness once The Seer recited The Magic Words. Sadly, Turtullius did not have The Magic Words, know for sure if either of us were The Seer, or seem to be particularly invested in our success. He did, however, somehow have a letter from a version of Zack who lived in Ancient Rome (Zack Rearickius) who had the Frame in its entirety but knew that he wasn't the Seer. That Zack broke off a piece of the picture that was inside of the frame (labeling it an "icon") and gave it to Turtullius for safe-keeping, since an immortal turtle is always a preferable storehouse to a mortal dude.
See? This'll teach you to ask for a more detailed explanation of our engagement.
Of course, we couldn't do much with just the Frame and a single piece of the picture, so we hung it on the wall above our bed and moved on. Until we were visited by a ghost! Yep. A ghost. More specifically, the ghost of Giacomo da Lentini, the 13th Century poet and white magician who invented the sonnet. Giacomo told us that the remaining picture was "handed down from generation to generation, the recipients carefully selected to be trustworthy, loyal, and dependable," and that he had been in charge of the picture in the 14th Century. Everything was going well, he said, until Guittone d'Arezzo, his arch-enemy and a practicer of black magic, tried to take it from them. A furious wizardry battle ensued, and there was a huge explosion, "sending the icons and The Magic Words flying into the future and scattering them all over the future-globe." He was able to hold on to one of the icons, except that it got broken into five pieces, one of which he managed to keep and the rest of which were taken by Guittone and given to the rest of The Band of Five for safeguarding. He seemed to feel pretty bad about the whole thing.
Naturally, we wanted to know what to do next. "First off," he said, "in order to attract Guittone and his henchmen (so that you can take the other icon pieces from them), you'll need to display the Frame and put the icon pieces inside of it...Once the Frame is up, [they] will come hunting for more of the icons." That seemed fair enough. But he had more to add! "This will also, [sic] hopefully attract the ghosts of whoever ended up with the other six icons. As you gain more icons, keep displaying them to attract more ghosts." That made sense...kind of. But he had more to add! "The Magic Words have also been stashed away. You will only be able to retrieve them once you have placed all of the icons in the Frame. Once you do that, read The Magic Words aloud in front of the Frame, and you will suddenly have access to a world of perfect love." And then he left because holy god that's a lot of information.
But the stage had been set. We knew the rules. All we had to do was collect the icons once the ghosts came by. And wrestle with some henchmen. We could totally do that. And so we waited...
A little while later, we came home to discover that our living room had been converted into a dance floor for the Enchanted Sherwood Forest Dance, complete with balloons, streamers, and punch. As we danced our first dance to "Love" from the movie Robin Hood, we noticed the titular fox and his lady hanging out on our TV stand. We walked over to Robin Hood and Maid Marian and asked them why they were in our apartment instead of, you know, dead. They told us that they were actually ghosts and...well, I guess that shouldn't have come as too much of a surprise. Anyway, they had an icon for us! And they also had one of The Magic Words.
One of them? Yep. As Robin Hood explained, "Friar Tuck once saw The Magic Words in a now long gone monastery that was built on a rock off the coast of Tuscany. He's forgotten all but one of the letters, but does know how many there are left!" Three. There were three left. Four letters total. We were kind of puzzled, but, I mean, it was kind of a puzzle.
There wasn't anything for us to do but put the icon in the Frame and wait for the next ghost. Eventually, he showed up. It was The Apothecary from Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet"! And he had the fourth icon! We thought we had it made until he explained to us that he wasn't going to just give the icon to us (like EVERY OTHER GHOST), but was going to make us work for it (seriously, dude?). He told us that he would give us the fourth icon in exchange for five Ghost Marbles, the official currency of the afterlife. There was also a Transmogrifier that converted the Marbles from spectral to corporeal form, but that's going in to too much detail, I think. There's such a thing, I assure you.
We found all of the Ghost Marbles (FINALLY), and we got the fourth icon. While we were working out that whole mess, we were visited by another ghost. This time it was One Meal Zack, a version of Zack from the Gold Rush era. He gave us the fifth icon in exchange for only eating one meal that day and was even kind enough to provide us with said meal and a playing of his favorite movie, Unforgiven. It was totally different than The Apothecary, who is a jerk.
Next up was the ghost of the Coca Cola Polar Bear. He let us have the sixth icon on the condition that we go on a "Coke Date," which consisted of going to the Coca Cola museum and watching this cool Coca Cola short that you should totally watch. He also gave us the second Magic Word! He came bearing all kinds of gifts, one might say. Someone other than me, I mean.
We were well on our way to finishing the Frame (and running into Ghost Marbles and members of the Band of Five left and right too), when Julius The Cat, the original Disney character, appeared. He gave us the seventh icon in exchange for having a "TC" Day. That required us to watch The Changeling (I realize, thank you), go to eat at [Annie's] Thai Castle, and have turtle cheesecake at Cafe Intermezzo. We were also supposed to work on our time capsule, but we kind of didn't get around to it. He didn't really mind because he's the ghost of a cartoon character.
There was only one icon left (except the one that the Apothecary had and the final piece of Giacomo's icon that Guittone had). Who had it? Ghostface Killah. Yep. Didn't see that coming, especially because "Ghostface KIllah isn't even dead." But there it was. Er, he was, rather. His stipulation for giving us the icon was that we had to combine all of our previous mensiveraries (we didn't call them that) into one day, although we ended up cheating a bit.
After Ghostface Killah peaced, we were left with three things missing: the two remaining Magic Words, the Apothecary's icon, and the fifth piece of the icon held by the Band of Five. It was then that we were visited by Bennie the Birthday Bug, a gift-bearing insect that shows up for Elisha's birthday every year. He had two early presents for her: the complete series boxset of How I Met Your Mother (score!) and the third Magic Word. A few days later, Cino da Pistoia, Guittone's right-hand man and second in command in the Band of Five, approached us with a Frame to Blessedness board game (?) and told us that he would give us the final piece of the icon if we beat him in it. We did, of course, because we rock.
We were down to two things left! We came home one day to find GUITTONE, DEAD. That's right. All of the good ghosts (except the Apothecary, of course) banded together to kill the criminal mastermind and get the last Magic Word for us. We were in business.
And speaking of business, we finally found the last Ghost Marble (in a glass of apple cider at The Cheesecake Factory, no less), and the Apothecary gave us the last icon. AND, as a bonus for him bring such a jerk, he gave us a riddle that, once solved, led us to find The Spellbook of Ages, a heavily-guarded text that contained the key to unlocking the secret of the Magic Words. And what was the secret? The secret was that the Magic Words weren't the real Magic Words at all. The Words we had were just a code to help us find the Spellbook, through which we would find the real Magic Words. I swear that this made sense a the time.
The Spellbook was in Georgia State's library, right next to the Collected Sonnets of Edna St. Vincent Millay. It happens. Once we found the Spellbook, we brought it back home and opened it up. "Only a special spell," it informed us, "can turn the Frame into a window to another world." The incantation itself was a bit complicated, but the gist of it is that it required Elisha to name the items on the icons aloud, three times for each, in her best abracadabra voice.
"Knob, knob, knob!" she said.
"Tower castle, tower castle, tower castle!" she said.
"Carrot, carrot, carrot!" she said.
"Seal, seal, seal!" she said.
"Shark, shark, shark!" she said.
"Will, will, will--"
--you marry me?" I interrupted.
There are times when months and months worth of riddles, puzzles, prizes, and Ghost Marbles come together in one special moment, a moment that brings everything together and leads you into a world a perfect peace and harmony.
This wasn't it.
We still didn't have the real Magic Words, and the Frame still looked oddly incomplete. That was when I realized that it wasn't Magic Words we needed, but a Magic Word. And that word was one that we already had, one that had been given only moments ago.
The Magic Word was "yes," and we had it. We finished the incantation, and...suddenly Narrator Dalmatian appeared. He told us that he had been the guardian of the Frame for millennia, and that he knew now that we were the true Seers. He had been holding on to a piece of the Frame that we didn't even know existed, and he gave it to us and congratulated us on our engagement.
Every story is a compilation of many other stories. This one is no different, but I know that, even though it ran a little long, deep down inside every minute is worth hearing. That is the story of how we got engaged, and it's the story of a lifetime.