Mary Beth and Franco
How We Met
Franco and I had our first date on February 1st, 2012, but our first interaction was just after the new year. One of my resolutions was to give online dating a serious try and decided to write a no nonsense profile about what I was, and was not, looking for in a guy. Franco found my direct approach refreshing and reached out pretty quickly after viewing it. We exchanged email addresses and began talking nightly on Yahoo Messanger. We both credit those first few weeks as establishing a firm groundwork for our relationship. With no “investment” as of yet, we were free to tell each other the absolute truth regarding our beliefs, views, interests and other general feelings without fear of judgement or rejection. If it didn’t work out, it didn’t work out, no big deal. But, fortunately, it did and Franco asked me out on an official date about 3 weeks later.
I met Franco after work that Wednesday evening at a Vietnamese restaurant he loved and wanted to introduce me to. I was greeted with a beautiful bouquet of flowers and a great big smile. Dinner came and went so we walked to Dairy Queen for dessert and then found a bench to continue chatting. Around 11:30pm, we finally called it a night only because it started to snow. By the time I got home, I already had an email from Franco stating how much he enjoyed getting to know me and his hopes we could get together again soon.
We went on a few dates after that in quick succession, including an adorable but awkward Valentine’s Day where neither of us was sure on the protocol since we didn’t know either other that long. Unfortunately, towards the end of the month, Franco came down with a bad case of strep throat that landed him in the hospital overnight. I decided to run over and see him, which apparently made a huge impression on him as the next day he was at my house and asking me to officially be his girlfriend.
How He Asked
After 5 1/2 years together, Franco proposed on Sunday, July 16th, 2017 at the Philadelphia Zoo on their Zoo Balloon. The proposal itself was not a surprise, we had talked about it many times and I even had my “engagement outfit” picked out weeks before. But the where and how were unknown to me. The zoo is not a “special place” for us; in fact I hadn’t been there in over 10 years, so I was very surprised and confused when we pulled up. Franco made a bee line for the balloon and stood in line sweating bullets, waiting for us to board. Even though we both knew what was about to happen, we both were very nervous and excited.
The Zoo Balloon is a gigantic hot air balloon that is tethered and raises 400 ft in the air to give you an amazing view of Philadelphia and the surrounding areas. It appears to be one large basket that people can get into but in reality it is a narrow walkway with the tether in the middle. This detail is important as Franco didn’t know it would be such a tight space and quickly realized he wasn’t sure how he would actually propose while trying to maintain his balance and put on the ring.
Once we reached the top, Franco leaned over and said “This city is your kingdom, and I hope you will let me rule it with you.” He then, very carefully got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. Even though I knew it was coming and even knew it was that day and that moment, I still completely cried and tearfully squeaked out “Yes”. Franco got up very quickly, as he was so unsteady in that small space on his knee, and the other folks on the ride applauded. He was even too scared to take the ring out of the box, fearing it would fall out of the balloon, that he waited until we were back on the ground to actually give it to me. The group on the balloon with us announced to the people waiting to board that we had gotten engaged so we were greeted to many well wishes as we exited and one very nice woman even stepped out of line to take pictures of us as she insisted we have something to remember the moment and the smiles on our faces.