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by Gil Zeimer (Dive Travel Magazine, Summer '96)
I tried to propose to my wife underwater. She almost drowned.
While planning the moment the “commitment” most men fear most I thought this would be a romantic way to tie the knot. Certainly, it would be a more intimate memory that the electronic message you often see on stadium scoreboards “Ellen, will you marry me? Gil”. After all, how embarrassing would it be if she turned the guy down in front of 35,000 people?
So when the moment arrived four years ago to transform my girlfriend into my fiancee, I wanted a smaller, more private venue.
The first step was choosing a vacation site. We opted for a new dedicated dive resort along a quiet 10-mile strip of sand on Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos chain. Though it was only a 1/2-mile from the bustling Club Med Turquoise, it was a world apart. Serene, peaceful and romantic, it was perfect for a surprise underwater proposal.
There was just one small detail. My girlfriend wasn’t a certified diver. With some hesitation, she enrolled in a resort course. Though she thought she'd enjoy diving because she loved swimming and snorkeling, she also had some reservations about it. “What if I don‘t like breathing through that mouthpiece thing? How disappointed will you be? Will you resent me?”
Naturally, I couldn’t share just how disappointed I'd be. I couldn't say, “Look! You've got to like it! I'm gonna ask you to marry me down there!!”
I couldn’t share my dream: We’d descend slowly down the anchor line. Every few feet, I’d use my hand signals to ask “Are you O.K.?” She’d nod and give me the signal.
When we reached our depth of 30 feet, I’d planned to again ask how she was doing. Next, I’d write on my slate, “How much air do you have left?” She'd scrawl in the amount.
Then, I’d take a few big gulps of air and write “Ellen, will you marry me?” I’d be able to see her eyes brighten inside her mask . . . I’d see the corners of her mouth smile around her regulator . . . and she’d write, “Yes, oh yes, my dearest!”
We’d embrace. I’d have someone take our photo. We’d finish the dive, and go topside to start planning the wedding.
That was my dive plan. However, every experienced diver knows that even the best plan are subject to change. During Ellen’s resort course, she felt extremely claustrophobic trying to breathe in the hotel pool. Several times, she stood up, took the regulator out of her mouth and gasped for breath. The instructors reassured her everything was fine. But she hated it.
Fear that I’d now reject her, Ellen sobbed on my shoulder. As I comforted her, I thought, “Well, let's go to Proposal Plan B.”
The next day, we strolled along those miles of secluded beach and I popped the question. We were married seven months later in San Francisco, a half-mile from the Pacific Ocean.
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