If you will look closely into any plan of attack, you will generally find something in common whether it be a minor skirmish or a battle of epic proportions. It’s very important to soften your target. Usually this is done by bombardment via long range artillery before sending in your troops, or precision bombing from strike aircraft.

Now as any man would know the first meeting with your partners parents is always a daunting experience at the best of times, and we all want to make the best impression that we possibly can. Now let me clarify after use of the previous analogy that I don’t consider Erica’s father to be a foe or our meeting a war, but that I have to strategise and formulate a plan of attack to make the best impression possible.

As luck would have it (and I don’t mean that in a good way), her dads birthday so happened to fall on the day after we arrive in Auckland to visit. As if just a plain vanilla meeting wasn’t bad enough, I have to now consider the purchase of a present for him. What the heck do you get someone you don’t know? Not just anyone, the father of the girl whom you plan to propose to, and that being a fact that no one will know for a long time yet.

Now being on a budget, it ruled out alot of things that I could give him that in my mind he would find useful or appreciate. To me, her dad is a man of some wealth. Anything I could buy for him, if he wanted it he would already have it. What do I buy a man who has everything?

Now I subscribe to the school of thoughtful gifts. I enjoy buying presents for those I care about. Its a very personal thing. I don’t believe in generic gifts, because I save that for colleagues in hospital or kris kringles at work. I try to get something that is identifiable to the person whom will hopefully understand why I got what I did, and appreciate the effort.

I racked my brain for many a gift. I didn’t know the man, so kept drawing blanks. I went through the usual list of generic gifts hoping to strike gold someway somehow. Ties, cufflinks, wine, crystal, etc etc…. nada. They were all gifts that I’m sure would be snorted at and thrown by the wayside. I then drew up plan B.

Now plan B to me was actually a great idea, however all those whom I approached for an opinion on it gave it the thumbs down. I can’t imagine why, I thought it was fool proof. What was plan B? Well… it was simply feigning surprise that it was his birthday! “Ohh Uncle its your birthday? Erica, why ever did you not mention this to me so I could have got him something thoughtful!!”.

No… apparently plan B had no supporters, so it was ditched. Now I started to analyse it more, and focus more on the emotional side of the thing. To change perspectives. To treat him not just as a man, but as a father. A father whom daughter I wanted to marry. A man whom I more than anything wanted to respect me. I was onto something.

Now what could I possibly give him that he doesn’t already have? What do you give a man who has everything in the world he could possibly want?

A Promise. Now I’m not a man of many great ideas, but this one felt right. I shall give him my word, that as long as his daughter is with me, he shall not have need to worry. Every father has his little girls best interests at heart, only wanting to see her happy, to know that she goes to sleep at night with a smile on her face. I wanted him to know that I would spend every hour of my time, every spare breathe that I take, trying to make that happen.

And so I put pen to paper, writing from the heart. Letting words flow from inside me, each sentence forming upon the page like rivulets of water running downhill and pooling at the base. Telling him how I feel, telling him what I would do, and telling him what I wanted. That I wanted to marry his baby, to take care of her, to love her, and to do so for the rest of my life.

I know its cheesy, and corny, and well most guys would accuse me of being 10 types of gay. But well… at least it came from the heart, and was full of sincerity.

Now having words all pretty and flowery sounding on paper is great… but they really won’t carry too much weight if they looked like they were scribed by a 3 year old. Which is what my hand writing looks like… minus the crayons. Its been a long time since I’ve written anything worth writing on paper, so my hand writing is a little rusty. Truth be told even at the peak of my writing practice it still looked woeful. I considered typing it, but decided that was just too impersonal, too sterile, too generic.

So I decided to go with a professional calligrapher. I hunted around for one whom had I could see some evidence of her work and experience before settling upon a nice lady whom has only been doing it for about 4 years. Initially I wanted to go with a scroll or parchment, but after various discussions with her decided to go for a more subtle look. A paper with some sheen that is slightly reflective, and a matching envelope.

I really wasn’t sure how it wasn’t going to turn out, but I think it turned out great. Some people just have an amazing talent for art and craft. And having such awful writing myself, I always respected the art of calligraphy, even in its simplest form.

Click photos to enlarge

With that gift in hand, now comes more lying. Now it was almost inevitable that Erica would read the letter. Either after her dad had read it, or before. And that letter is as black and white as you could possibly get as a statement of my intentions. How on earth would I railroad her into thinking that what was so blatantly obvious was not all as it seemed?

I told her the reasons of why I wanted to give her dad the letter. Because he had everything and it was meaningful yadda yadda yadda. But at the end of the day, so what? I was just another boyfriend, just another guy. Her dad would in all likelihood read this and go “Well thats nice but what now? Why are you telling me this?” So I told her that I threw the part in about the marriage only so that he would think that the letter was a means to an end, to give it so much more meaning.

Then I proceeded to reiterate again and again that marriage was the last thing on my mind, that I really didn’t want to even think about it for at least until we’ve been together a year, and to please not broach the subject with me or risk me taking flight. I just wanted to make an old man happy. And you know what? She actually bought it. Now Erica, bless her cotton socks, is the most trusting girl I have ever met. She saw that I had no reason to lie to her, and as much as she had such black and white evidence of my intentions in her face, believed my fabrication 100%. I can’t believe I got out of that one… I thought there was no possible way and that the gig was up. Whew! *wipes brow*

Well anyhoo we are in Auckland and her dads birthday arrive, and I get hit by cold feet. I decided that I was not going to give her dad the letter. It sounded tacky, corny, silly, and deserved to be in the trash along with all Mills and Boon novels ever written. I wanted to give it to him to read, but just thought that it was the silliest gift in the world and that any man would just snort at it. Erica told me I didn’t have to give it if I didn’t want to. There… end of story. I chickened out, and decided to file that letter where no one would find it.

From then until the clock struck midnight passing into the day of next, I felt my stomach twisting into knots. What do I do? What do I do? I so wanted to give it to him but didn’t want him to scoff nor laugh at me. I decided to take the cowards way out. Well, maybe a cowards second option of a way out, the first being not to give the letter.

I told Erica that I would feign being asleep, and she would give the letter to her dad explaining that I wrote it but was too chicken to give it, and so decided not to. Needless to say, her dad was quite excited when he read the last paragraph. BUT thankfully, Erica kept reiterating to him not to get his hopes up and not to think about it as we’re not even discussing it. Ohh, and I’ll add that Ericas sister Emily knew by then that I was going to propose, and knew the whole story behind it.

So Emily, god bless her kind soul, proceeded to chime in that its too soon, not to think about it, don’t get your hopes up… etc etc. Thanks Emily, you’re the best sister and sister in law any man could ask for *HUGS*. And I promise Tetsuyas for you when you come visit :)

So there we go… another phase of this operation complete. The ramifications and ripples of what took place here will echo in another upcoming part. But until then, the target has been softened. The coast has been cleared. Time to send in the troops.