Rachel and Danny
How We Met
I first met Danny seven years ago, though he doesn’t remember this encounter. We were both helping our mutual friend, Mari, move from her first Brooklyn apartment to her second. (Danny and Mari both graduated from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts—dance for Mari, drama for Danny—and were good friends. I met Mari once I moved to NYC and soon joined her dance company, Mari Meade Dance Collective.)
Our second meeting (our “actual” meeting, in Danny’s memory-failing eyes) was a year and a half ago, at a spring fundraiser for the dance company, held in Mari’s backyard in Bushwick. Though Danny brought another date with him to the fundraiser (!), by the end of the night, he’d casually danced his way over to me and shouted over the band playing that we should hang out sometime. By the following day, he’d ended things with the woman from the evening before and we’d started messaging an obscene amount. (He swears he knew that night that we should be together.)
From that point on, we became nearly inseparable and fell in love quickly and irrevocably. Danny’s incredible sense of humor makes me ugly-laugh nearly every single day, and his razor-sharp intelligence and generosity make each moment I spend with him the highlight of every day.
How He Asked
I have a great, unequivocal, possibly unhealthy love of Trapped in the Closet. (For those of you unfamiliar with this cultural phenomenon, it is Robert Sylvester Kelly’s hip-hopera—his words, not mine—following the affairs, friendships, saga and general relationship drama of a group of monogamy-challenged couples. It currently consists of 33 “chapters,” the first released in 2005.) I own the DVD of the first 22 chapters and downloaded the remaining 11 onto my computer shortly after their 2012 release. I have watched Trapped many, many times and find it endlessly fascinating. I have also forced most of my closest friends to watch Trapped, too.
Danny and I watched Trapped in the Closet early on in our relationship (duh), and he later told his sister Jillian that he decided then and there that he would one day propose to me by creating his own video “chapter” of Trapped. A year after we started dating, he began putting this plan into motion. First, he wrote his own lyrics—all based on events and inside jokes of our relationship—and recorded them to a karaoke track of Trapped. He’d written in parts for our siblings and closest friends and asked them to send short videos of themselves to insert into the final video. When I was out of town this past August for a work event, Danny and his incredibly gifted filmmaker friend Ben Yannette spent the day filming the chapter inside my apartment. (Even my sister’s cat makes a cameo in the video!)
A couple of months and some serious editing later, Danny planned the big reveal of the video to happen at the dance company’s fall fundraiser—almost exactly a year and a half after we’d met, and at the same function! What initially began as projecting an old video of the dance company performing quickly segued into Danny’s Trapped in the Closet video, as I stood surrounded by my closest friends.
I had absolutely no idea what was going on and didn’t realize until the very end of the video that this was Danny’s way of proposing. Completely shocked (more like flabbergasted), I turned to him at the video’s end to see him on one knee with a ring in his hand. He said very sweet words about how my weirdness complements his own before officially asking me to marry him. I think I whispered yes, too overcome with surprise and gratitude to say anything more.
Post-proposal, our friends quickly put glasses of champagne in our hands and toasted us. They’d skillfully kept this giant secret from me, the biggest snoop and surprise-figure-outer there is, for six months!