33. Storybook Proposal

33. Storybook Proposal

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Happily Ever After

Storybook Proposal

True love stories never have endings.

~Richard Bach

Emily and I met in our first semester of college and dated for almost six years. Regardless of how crafty and intuitive my ideas, I was never able to surprise her with anything. Emily was investigative and I was naive — not a good combination for a surprise. Leave it to me to accidentally leave behind a receipt or just happen to be checking voicemail on a speakerphone when the restaurant or florist would call to confirm.

Time after time, I tried to surprise her. Time after time, I failed.

When I began to think about a long-overdue proposal, I wanted nothing more than to surprise her. So I embarked upon a personal journey to find a unique and special way to pop the question.

After much thought — and some interesting suggestions from friends and coworkers — I decided to incorporate two of Emily’s loves: reading (her graduate-school pursuit) and pigs (her favorite animal since childhood) into a storybook proposal. My dream was to create and publish a children’s book in which two little pigs, Emmy and Matty, would parallel the story of Emily and me.

I was working in public relations for a school district. I asked an art teacher if she knew any students skilled in cartoon illustration. Without hesitation she put me in touch with Jeremy, a tenth grader who excitedly showed me his portfolio. I hired him on the spot. Page by page, I sent the manuscript to Jeremy for custom drawings. And I began to write.

I wrote about two little pigs who meet in a college computer lab, just like Emily and me. My story detailed Emmy and Matty’s journey through the years. On page eight, the two little pigs find themselves in front of a sunset.

“One fall evening, Matty had an important question for Emmy,” the page read. The proposal page followed.

Upon completion of the illustrations, text and layout of the story, my creation was ready to be printed. It came back in the form of a real book, hardbound. I had done it. I successfully produced the entire book in complete secrecy. After all these years, I would surprise Emily.

On a random Thursday, I told Emily I had found a couple of cute children’s books on sale for her collection. Naturally she wanted to take a look, so the first one I gave her was The Story of the Two Little Pigs.

As she read the first couple of pages, she started to catch on that I had written a book for her, but had no I idea it would change both of our lives forever.

As she approached the proposal page, I asked her to stand up. I bent down on one knee as I watched her eyes follow the words on the paper that simply said, “Emily Suzanne ...Will You Marry Me?” She was speechless as she looked up and saw me with a ring in my hand.

Stunned, she closed the book and gave me a big hug. “Yes, yes and yes! Of course. I love you!”

We hugged for a couple of minutes and I wiped the tears from her eyes. I urged her to turn to the last page of her storybook proposal — an illustration of pigs dressed in wedding gown and tuxedo.

It read, in appropriate storybook fashion: “Emmy and Matty lived happily ever after.”


~Matthew Cummings
Chicken Soup for the Bride’s Soul

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