A Wedding Proposal

When Ernst called me in April 2006, I was one of the very few to be introduced into his secret plan. Indulging his penchant for instigating surprises he asked me for some strategic input to bolster up his plan for a wedding proposal which should take place on the Empire State Building in New York City with Lisa, his girl-friend, coming there unaware of what would happen.
Since Lisa works for Campus 02 in Graz, we fleshed out a strategy that would direct her to New York City with a view to attending an international conference of open universities. On that conference she was supposed to introduce her university in front of a host of international university representatives. The task in plotting the plan was to find a proper framework that sounded both plausible and allowed for quick and credible communication, ensuring at the same time that any research on the conference by Lisa, her parents or friends was avoided. Another requisite parameter for the design of the strategy was that as few people as possible would have to be let into the plan.
Since I have a friend from economy school who works for the RZB in NYC, we decided to make Barbara the focal point of our plan: in our deliberations on the efficacy of our plan, we made the RZB the host of the conference, which Barbara was to organise. The organisational parameters, then, were conceived by Ernst himself: Barbara would receive his instructions by e-mail, which she would forward to Lisa from her RZB-mail-account, lined with her signature. Since Barbara’s e-mail-address was a real one and her signature proved her status as an RZB employee, the plan appeared, in our opinion, reasonably bullet-proof and feasible.
After we had endorsed the procedure, I contacted Barbara and asked her for assistance. After she had agreed, Ernst set about sending invitation, instructions and program to Barbara, who forwarded the information to Lisa. In the meantime, Ernst had informed Lisa’s boss about his plan and he agreed to play his part. Ernst booked the hotel and flight tickets for Lisa, which his secretary left in Lisa’s office while she was on a business trip in Vienna.
For a long time the plan travelled in safe waters towards a blissful and – for Ernst – riveting denouement. Since Lisa informed Ernst minutely about her trip, he could react to her problems and fears. One time, Lisa appeared to be twitchy about the prospect of holding a speech in English before a lot of people. So Ernst limited the time of her speech to 15 minutes in order to attenuate her anxiety and prevent her from cancelling the trip or sending someone else. Only when Lisa’s boss wanted to postpone the trip because of a tremendous workload they had to tackle, Ernst’s plan was on the brink of failing. Luckily, Ernst could convince Lisa’s boss that it was impossible to postpone the trip and so he finally waved them through.
Telling Lisa he had to go to Poland with a delegation of politicians, Ernst flew to New York City two days before Lisa in order to check out the location of the proposal and arrange the rest of their stay. On Barbara’s advice, Ernst changed the location and instructed Lisa to come to a pre-conference come-together in the stylish Rainbow Room in Rockefeller Center. There he waited for her, hoping that she had received his message that Barbara was ill and she had to come to the Rainbow Room alone and then, when a waiter had finally led her to his table, we can imagine him standing there, all dressed up, flowers in hand, looking into a bewildered face of someone doubting her senses; standing there to ask the overwhelming question and waiting, waiting expectantly – for her answer, waiting until the new reality would penetrate her expectations, her disbelief and surprise and then, at last, produce a shy smile on her face and, finally, so we hear a positive answer and a long, long kiss.

Congratulations to Ernst and Lisa. What a proposal! A big shout goes out, of course, to Barbara, without whom this would have never been possible. THANK YOU!

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