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John Kelly's Washington

A monumental effort and other readers' marriage proposal stories

P.J. Meitl of Alexandria proposed to his girlfriend, Michele, in 2005. She saw the display from the top of the Washington Monument. She said yes.
P.J. Meitl of Alexandria proposed to his girlfriend, Michele, in 2005. She saw the display from the top of the Washington Monument. She said yes. (Courtesy of P.J. Meitl)

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By John Kelly
Wednesday, June 30, 2010

They call June the wedding month, but any time is the right time for a marriage proposal. In my recent column on the local man who popped the question at the National Portrait Gallery, I invited readers to share their proposal stories. Here are some of my favorites.

For sheer logistical investment, few beat P.J. Meitl of Alexandria, who in May of 2005 employed his friends, the Washington Monument and huge poster-board letters to propose to his girlfriend, Michele. P.J. reserved same-day tickets for a ride to the top of the obelisk. A friend took Michele around D.C. on the pretense of needing to take photographs for a work presentation. In the meantime, P.J. and some buddies set up the letters -- each as tall as a person -- on the Mall.

"This was no easy task because the Park Service doesn't allow this, although a few romantically sympathetic rangers looked the other way," wrote P.J.

The letters laid out, P.J. and a friend ascended the monument and hid as well as they could to wait for Michele. When she arrived late in the day, Michele looked out each window, probably with the bored expression that D.C. residents adopt when doing touristy stuff. She didn't see the letters. She did see P.J. on his knee when she turned around and at his urging took another gander through the east window.

Even at that point, she wasn't quite sure what "Harry Me Michele?" meant, the H and the M looking very similar from 555 feet up. "Once she figured it out, she said yes," P.J. wrote. "The few remaining people at the top, along with the handful of park rangers, all cheered and we kissed."

They've been happily harried ever since.

Mark Lipping paid $100 to flash his proposal on the scoreboard at RFK Stadium during a Redskins-Falcons game in 1994. Knowing his message -- "Liz, I love you. Will you marry me? Mark" -- would come up during the first two-minute warning, he told his girlfriend to go to the bathroom early so she'd be back in time for the halftime band. But, wrote Mark, "The Skins were up 13-7 and Atlanta just wanted to get to the locker room. No timeouts, no out of bounds, nothing.'"

When the message went up on the board, more than 40,000 spectators went "Awwwwwww." Liz wasn't one of them.

"I stood up on my chair, faced back towards the crowd and yelled, 'She had to pee!' Just then, as if on cue, Liz appeared at the top of the stairs. I ran up, got on one knee and asked her to marry me. Between gasps, she accepted my proposal."

Ralph Blessing was a little more spontaneous when he proposed to his girlfriend, Debby Thomas. "We were on our way to visit friends who lived in the outer reaches of Capitol Hill near RFK Stadium," Ralph wrote. "We took Metro to their place, as they lived right around the corner from the Stadium-Armory stop. On our way up the escalator, just as the D.C. jail came into view, I suddenly decided to pop the question. (No one ever accused me of being a romantic.) To say that I caught her off guard would be an understatement, but it didn't take her long to say yes."

And I'm sure Debby gets a little wistful every time she sees a jail, reminding her, as it does, of their 25-year marriage.

Speaking of which, Jim Kerner doesn't have an unusual proposal story, but he does have an interesting "where we met" story: on jury duty. He and Mary Bailey were waiting to see whether they'd be called to serve. "I showed my wife-to-be some card games," Jim wrote. "One thing led to another and we got married." Those must have been some incredible card games.

"Of course, we heard the bad jokes, such as 'It's nice to know you share the same convictions' or 'That's justice for you.' "

The couple is currently serving 20 to life.

Did you meet your beloved in an unusual way? Send me the story: kellyj@washpost.com.

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