It all started when my girlfriend Lydia gave me the NY Times Bestselling book “Love Does.” I was intrigued from start to finish. In the book, Bob Goff tells stories from his life…….they don’t make sense. He talks about living a life of whimsy. He loves without agenda and instead of talking about great stories, he lives them. While many of us live by deadlines, agenda, efficiency and sensibility; he chooses adventure, spontaneity, freedom.
For more about Bob, click here
In one of the chapters, Bob tells a story about a young man whom he met while sitting on his back porch. Bob’s house backs up to a waterfront path and this guy was standing on the path looking at Bob. After Bob introduced himself, this young man asked him if he could use his back porch to ask his girlfriend to marry him. Bob enthusiastically agreed! The young man returned several more times asking more and more of Bob. Can I have several of my friends serve us dinner on your porch? Can you take us out on your boat afterward? Bob said yes and yes, but he didn’t stop there. Bob called the coast guard and asked if they could show up with their fireboat and blast the sky with several streams of water for the grand finale! The story was epic and yes, his girlfriend agreed to marry him.
I picked up Bob’s book at the perfect time. I was in the middle of cooking up an engagement story of my own and I wanted it to be memorable. When I finished the book, I immediately called Bob and asked him if he would be a part of my engagement story. I was nervous. He didn’t pick up. Whew, perfect, I can just leave a message; he probably gets too many calls anyway. In minutes, the phone rings. Hi Michael, it’s Bob Goff! Whaaaaat?!! Is this guy for real? What bestselling author puts his cell phone number in the back of his book and then answers it? After kissing his butt about how awesome his book is, I asked him if he would be a part of my engagement caper. He enthusiastically agreed! What’s a caper? It’s the word Bob uses to describe a whimsical adventure.
ca·per 1 (kpr)n. 1. A playful leap or hop
2. A frivolous escapade or prank
The Plan: I fly from Buffalo (where I live) to Dallas (where Lydia lives) without her knowing. I somehow sneak onto her rooftop deck; Bob Goff calls her and convinces her to go up to the deck where I ask her to marry me. It sounds simple enough. Bob’s in, flight is purchased, and co conspirator (Lydia’s friend Amy) is on board. Good to go, right?
The Actual Story: As the big day approached, I hadn’t heard from Bob at all. It had been over a month since we talked or emailed and I was beginning to write him off as a part of my engagement. I didn’t really have a plan B. I guess surprising Lydia in Dallas wouldn’t be terrible. It wouldn’t be very memorable either, oh well, I tried.
I called and emailed Bob a few more times with no success of reaching him. The day before my flight left for Dallas, I noticed I had a missed call. It was from Bob Goff!!! I frantically called him back and he picked up. “Hi Michael, didn’t we have a caper planned?” I later found out that Bob had been in 7 cities in the last 60 hours. His email inbox had over 2400 new emails and his phone was jammed with messages. He somehow remembered to call me just before he stepped onto a sea plane and left for Canada and out of cell phone service.
Bob talks about being inefficient with his time, for the purpose of loving others. In order for him to make a call to Lydia at the right time, he had to take a boat, across an inlet and borrow a satellite phone. We agreed that he would call at 4pm CST. He doesn’t know me from Adam, yet he was willing to go out of his way to make a better story happen. There were no guarantees he would get reception, but he was willing to try.
The Adventure Begins: With a spring in my step and butterflies in my stomach, I headed to the airport to hop on a connecting flight to Detroit. I was so excited. I couldn’t read, sleep or sit still. The flight was a little late but I wasn’t too concerned…..until I arrived in Detroit and found out that my connecting gate was on the opposite side of the airport. I strutted through the airport like an Olympic power walker. I weaved in and out of frantic travelers like an NFL running back trying not to face plant as I jumped off and on the moving walkways. When I arrived at the gate, the plane was already boarded. By the skin of my teeth, I made it. I don’t know about you but I don’t have a lot of skin on my teeth.
My plan had a chance after all. We landed in Dallas at 2:15pmCST and I boarded the rental car shuttle to pick up my wheels. It took some time to get there but I was still good, I walked up to the Alamo desk at around 3pmCST. I decided to play the engagement card to get a free upgrade. It looked promising. ”Your license sir?” I handed it over. ”I’m sorry sir, we can’t rent you a vehicle, your license is expired.”.Uh oh….. I pleaded with the attendant to let me go just this time, in the name of love! No such luck. It was approaching 3:15pm and I was about 30 minutes away from Lydia’s house. If the call was being made at 4pm I had to arrive at Lydia’s house before then. Who knows if her friend Amy could hold her off long enough! I asked the attendant if she could call me a cab, she did, however, it wouldn’t arrive for another 20 minutes. Not going to work. ”Is there anything else you can do?” She frantically ran to another office and got a hold of another cab that could be there in 7 minutes. This was my only option, go for it. 10 minutes later a red cab with a Sudanese man in the driver seat pulled up. He spoke a few words of English, hopefully enough to understand where we needed to go. I promised him a fat tip if he drove like he stole it and we were off to the races.
I told him the address, he looked at me blankly. Oh boy, this was going to be interesting. I pulled up directions on my iphone and gave him turn by turn instructions. The navigation drew significant power from my phone and I watched in horror as the battery bar shrunk. I not only needed my phone to navigate, but it was essential for me to communicate with Lydia’s friend Amy who was occupying Lydia by pretending to need a completely new wardrobe. At 3:30pm we hit Friday traffic in the heart of Dallas. My GPS indicated that we were 30mins away. Oh well, I tried. Lydia would come home before I could get there, Bob may or may not call and I would just have to show up at her door. ”It could be worse,” I thought.
I didn’t give up. I frantically looked for alternative routes on my dying phone while texting Amy, “hold her off as long as you can!” I found a quicker route. Amy texted back, “she’s getting really tired and wants to come home.” I showed my dying phone to the driver, he pulled his ipod charger out and I sadly shook my head, it wasn’t compatible. He then reached into his glove compartment and pulled out an enormous charging port that plugged into his cigarette lighter. Back in business! The clock was ticking.
My driver whipped up and down streets and zoomed through yellow and red lights. He had now understood my plan and it wasn’t going to fall apart on his watch. We finally pulled up to Lydia’s apartment at 3:49pm. I threw him a large bill, grabbed my bag and ran towards the flowerpot where Amy hid the key. There were 3 pots. I felt like I was playing an arcade game. I didn’t see the key under the last pot I picked up. I looked under all three pots again. I saw a single key masked by a pile of soil. I grabbed my bag and fumbled with the key (hands shaking) and flung open the door like I was running from a serial killer. I looked up the alarm code that Amy had texted me. Success, I was in. I sprinted up two flights of stairs, slid open the sliding glass door and frantically climbed the mini iron stairs to the rooftop deck. Geez, are these stairs made for tiny children? I felt like a rhinoceros charging through one big turnstile with cargo strapped to its back. The deck was a sweltering 100 plus degrees, I hadn’t eaten since breakfast, I was shaking and sweating like a lobster in a pot. Amy’s text told me they were on their way, another text, “Holy Traffic!”
It was 3:55pm and it wasn’t looking good for making it back in time for Bob’s call. ”Closer than you think,” replied Amy.
At 3:59pm I heard Lydia’s car pull up.
A text from Amy comes up on my hone:
While I prepared for the big moment, Lydia received a phone call from a strange number in British Columbia. Her immediate response was to ignore it.
Amy looked at her sternly, “You need to answer that call.”
Lydia answers: Hello?
Lydia: Hi Bob, how’s it going? (In utter disbelief and confusion)
Bob: I can’t really hear you that well, is there a way you can go outside to get better reception?
Lydia: I am outside, I just got out of my car.
Bob: Hmm, well, it’s still crackling, can you hear me ok?
Lydia: Yup, loud and clear!
Bob: Well, maybe if you go higher it will help. Do you have a deck or porch or something?
Lydia: Um, yeah, I could try that (How does he know that, what’s is going on here?)
Bob: Talk to sweet Maria, for a minute.
Sweet Maria: Hi Lydia, so good to talk to you!
Lydia: Hi, how are you?
Sweet Maria: Great, ya know, just enjoying some quality time with Bob
Lydia: Well that’s great!
Sweet Maria: Here’s Bob
Bob: Are you up stairs yet?
Lydia: Not yet, there are a lot of stairs.
Bob: Ok, I’ll wait until you get up there. (silence)
(Meanwhile) Amy peels off and leaves in Lydia’s car. Lydia climbs the spiral stairs with the phone to her ear. I wait on the deck, 5 feet from the top of the stairs. Lydia climbs the last few steps and sees me standing there with Bob waiting on the phone. She freezes at the top of the steps.
Lydia: What are you doing here?!!! What are you doing here?!!!! What’s going on?!!!!!!
Me: Come here darlin.
Lydia forgot that Bob was waiting on the phone, I took the phone, thanked Bob for his amazing role in our story and told him he would be getting an enormous hug tackle from me if I ever saw him again. I held Lydia close and read her an email that I had sent her 3 years ago. It talked about how I knew she was worth pursuing and that she was an amazing woman. For some reason, it wasn’t the right time. I looked up and said, “But this is the right time.” I got down on one knee and asked her if she would be my wife. She enthusiastically agreed and joined me on the ground. She held me so tight that I couldn’t get the ring out of my pocket. She didn’t let go for a while, and I didn’t mind one bit. I told her I had something to give her and she still didn’t let go. I told her to stand up. I gave her the ring I had picked out.
It was official, we were engaged!