We’re kind of a big deal … in Japan.

Posted on
Feb 9, 2010

It’s the Tuesday after the Superbowl. It is a day that holds a special place in my heart. Because on the Tuesday after the Superbowl, 2007, this happened:

And the very same time, this happened (Turn the volume down because I scream. A lot):

I suppose  I should explain, right? Ah, but it’s such a long story. And most of you have probably heard it before. The crazy guy who was trying to propose on a commercial on the Superbowl. It fell through, so he proposed on local TV. The abbreviated version is this: I was watching TV with friends. A commercial came on. The rest is (my and Rand’s) history.

If you want to know more, there’s an article about it here. People always ask if I really didn’t suspect a thing, and I usually say, “Of course I didn’t. You really think I’d have left my hair like that if I had suspected someone was filming me?”

Consequently, I am now one of those people who won’t be seen without make-up. But that’s another story.

Rand’s commercial made a tiny little blip on the cultural radar, and we got tons of emails from friends and relatives who had seen us on the news, or Access Hollywood, or (gulp) being interviewed by Oprah.

But the weirdest part of all of this is that, for whatever reason, we’ve made it big in Japan.

Okay, fine. Maybe not “big”. But thus far, we’ve been approached by four Japanese TV shows who wanted to profile our story. One already aired last year. The show was called something like, “World’s Most Astonishing Videos.”

One of the producers of that show (who was actually in San Francisco, but worked for a company out of Japan), asked us a series of questions (the sort we had come to expect: “How did you come up with the idea?”, “Did you suspect he was going to propose?”, “What did your friends and family think?”).

Then they sent a television crew to our house, and they filmed us opening the door and greeting them.

They filmed us talking about our story, showing them around our apartment, and doing the dishes. At some point, they asked us to pretend we were cooking a meal together, so I think Rand started chopping a carrot or something. The filming and interviews took the better part of an afternoon. They also let us know that they would be hiring actors to re-enact parts of our story.

Yeah. That’s right: Japanese actors playing us. This had potential for amazingness.

The producer then called us again with another set of questions, which were far stranger than the run-of-the-mill things they had asked us to cover the first time around. I suspect that our reaction can largely be explained by cultural relativism: what’s strange to an American can be perfectly reasonable to someone else, and vice-versa. But nevertheless, it made us a little uncomfortable:

“Are your parents still married? No? In what year did they divorce? Are they remarried? In what year did they remarry?”

“What are your siblings’ names? And what work do they do? Are they married?”

They proceeded to ask our parents’ and grandparents’ birth dates, the year they were married, which college and high school they had attended (along with their areas of study and favorite subjects), places of birth, ethnic backgrounds, employment histories, and asked for a detailed story of how each couple met. They asked the same about our siblings. The wanted to know details about my brother’s wife’s job. For one brief moment, both Rand and I thought it was an elaborate hoax to steal our identities (“And what’s your mother’s maiden name?”). At some point, Rand noted that this chain of questioning was quite unusual to him and making him somewhat uncomfortable (note: when a guy who proposes on TV thinks something is too intrusive … ).

“Yes,” the producer replied. “We often get that response from Americans we talk to, but these are the sort of things our viewers are interested in.”

Zuh? Really? For however flattering it is that someone would be interested in the minutia of your life, it’s also really, really strange.

Still, the producer was incredibly nice, and she seemed genuinely interested in our story(and to this day, I haven’t seen any evidence that she took out a credit card in my name).

We drew some lines: I didn’t end up sending them video footage of the wedding, or our official wedding photos, even though they requested both. I just wasn’t comfortable with that. The producer was incredibly polite and understanding about it (though she did seem a bit disappointed).

And though we asked for a finished DVD of the episode, we never saw it. But several months ago, Philip sent me this:

Ive always wanted to be blonde and skinny.

I’ve always wanted to be blonde and skinny.

It’s from the “World’s Most Astonishing Videos” website. You can see the two actors that portrayed us (as you can imagine, we were profoundly disappointed they weren’t Japanese).

And though the proposal was years ago, I think about it every time the Superbowl rolls around. And on the Tuesday after the Superbowl. Sometimes I re-watch the commercial, even though I’ve seen it a few dozen times by now. It makes me smile.  I suppose it always will. It was one of the best days of my life, and will always be – irrespective of whether or not it made us pseudo-famous in Japan.

But it has: we’ve recently been contacted by three more Japanese TV shows in the last two weeks (we’re not sure why).

And, yes, as usual, the questions started again. Some of them seemingly relevant, and others strange and tangential.

We’re politely answering their questions. We just have one request: they absolutely have to send us a copy of the DVD.

P.S. – A lot of these shows have offered to pay us in order to cover our story. My husband, hell bent on saving the world, always accepts their offer and donates the money to charity. Because he is awesome. We usually pick Seattle Children’s Hospital, but this time, he spoke to the Japanese producers and just told them to donate the cash to charity, prompting this exchange:

Me: Did you specify which one?

Rand: No – I told them to pick one.

Me: What if they pick something we don’t like, like “Neo-Nazis Against Gay Rights”?

Rand: That’s … that’s not a thing. That’s not a charity.

Me: You don’t know that.

Leave a Comment

  • Just this past weekend, a friend started to tell us about something she saw on Oprah and stopped herself to apologize for telling us about something she saw on Oprah. I told her not to worry, that we “love” Oprah and that we even had friends who were on her show. When I explained your story, our friend said, “I think I saw that one. Was she the one who couldn’t stop screaming?”

    Props to my sister-in-law, Akiko, who dug up that site with your vaguely European doppelgangers. We told her about your appearance and she figured out which show it was in about 2 minutes. Sadly, our local Japanese video store doesn’t carry episodes going that far back.

  • OMG Geraldine this video moved me to tears. Without doubt the sweetest thing I’ve seen in years.

    I have a feeling you two will be like this adorable, really old couple I met a long time ago when I was at a hearing center – they were so cute together, even though they’d been married over 60 years and were both pushing 90, they were holding hands and acting like newlyweds (she giggled at every joke he made)…that’s how I envision you and Rand someday…

  • How fun! I think I squeezed a tear out over this one. 🙂

  • Christine

    About 3 months after Rand proposed to you (one of the BEST PROPOSALS EVER), my darling Jason proposed to me in his own romantic way. It went a little something like this:

    Jason and Christine are in Destin for their friends’ wedding. It’s their first weekend away since the birth of their son three months prior. Christine’s getting dressed to go out to a bar for a pre-wedding event. She finds she’s having a hard time squeezing her jeans over her hips, as she’s still got a lot of baby weight on her body. As she’s trying to jiggle her love handles into her jeans–a process not unlike putting sausage into a casing–she looks down and sees Jason on bended knee.

    Christine: What is that!?

    Jason: Uh, will you marry me?

    Christine: I’m still getting dressed!

    Jason: I know, but I bought the ring today and I can’t wait any longer.

    Now, I’ll admit it’s awfully sweet that Jason was too excited to wait for the “right time” to propose. AND he got me a sapphire, which is exactly what I wanted. AND I love him like crazy. But I don’t think Japanese tv shows will be lining up to reenact that any time soon.

  • Everywhereist

    Christine –

    That is so friggin romantic. I love it. I love that he bought the ring and couldn’t wait any longer. I love how cute you guys (and Jackson are).

    And damn it, I think that your proposal would be a hit in Japan.

    And I might have something in BOTH my eyes. Please excuse me.


  • You are too adorable and so isn’t your hubs. What a great story!

  • Wow! What an incredible story!

    And yes, East Asian countries (like Japan, Korea, and China) tend to have a different view of privacy. I got asked some really, really personal questions (including “how much do you weigh?” and “do your parents love eachother”) by total strangers when I lived in Korea. It takes some getting used to, for sure.

  • Everywhereist

    Kelsey – Wow. Though I have never met you, I feel like I know you well enough to put you in the “Don’t mess with that girl” category (which I mean as a sincere compliment). And those questions, coming from an American, would constitute “messing with you.” But yes, clearly privacy issues might be different.

  • Holy fuckballs! That is AMAZING! I can’t believe you became so famous over an engagement! So cool. Wow. Does he have any single brothers? I can’t find any men like that. Pretty sure this story made me all emotional.

  • Awesome. It’s an incredible story and I’m a sap for romance.

  • Everywhereist

    Candice – Wow. “Holy f*ckballs” might be my favorite new expression. 🙂 Rand’s brother is a wee bit young (11 years younger than Rand). Though I suppose if I had honored the request of every lady who wanted to meet him, he’d be wise beyond his years.

    It’s probably best that I didn’t.

  • Everywhereist

    Bwah ha ha ha ha – We just got contacted by yet another show – this one is called, I kid you not, “Happy Marriage Consultant.”

  • Yes, a few tears here as well……Although I just got engaged last March (with a sapphire!) and and will finally seal the deal this May. I pride myself on being a tough nut to crack (i may have been called an “android” a time or two) but anything wedding makes me cry these days and this proposal video was pretty darn cute, and definitely awesome. you got a keeper!!!!

    • Everywhereist

      Claire – I totally know what you mean – I hardly thought of myself as a girly-girl (certainly not one who was very wedding-focused) but the closer that date arrived, the more emotional I got over the whole thing. I think I cried over a celebrity wedding photo spread in People magazine. It was worrisome. 🙂

  • @Everywhereist Aw, thanks for the compliment! I think most folks who know me “in real life” would agree with your assessment. I did, after all, photograph a Korean riot with over 100,000 people (in which a brick was at one point thrown at my head) in attendance, that was anti-American in topic, “for fun”. 😉 (photos here: )

    I had some issues with “the Korean way” when I first arrived, but after awhile, I adapted. You just have to learn to laugh at it, and after awhile, I started coming up with silly answers to the questions as a way to hint at their inappropriateness. My school, however, learned the “don’t mess with that girl” lesson when they tried to claim that there was no housing on the entire island and that I would have to live at the school. I knew there was housing but that they just didn’t want to deal with the hassle, and I walked into my supervisor’s office, put a piece of paper on her desk with the labor board’s phone number (labeled as such) and said “Find me housing or I will call them tomorrow”. Surprise, surprise, they found me housing the very next day.

    • Everywhereist

      Kelsey – the trick with the labor board’s phone number is painfully awesome. For some reason (I think it’s a reaction to my mom’s whole “Rules are meant to be ignored” Italian mentality) I feel a lot of pressure to just accept what people tell me (esp when overseas), even when I know it’s pure crap. Props to you for standing up for yourself. I might have to remember WWKD? next time I’m in a situation like that. 🙂

  • Whoops, here’s the link that I meant to put in the “photos here” parenthetical: http://www.flickr.com/photos/antipeople/sets/72157622990098785/ there’s also some video I took, up over here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kMGgQz9gukI

  • Dana

    This is YOU, The Everywhereist?? Okay, so I discovered your blog this week – the first I’ve ever bothered to read- while obsessing over the TSA-holes (brilliantly apropos) and the naked body scanners/gropings. Your posts made me feel better about an issue that has me totally flipped out and I found myself still reading and laughing over a glass of wine last night and again over a cup of coffee this morning. Then I came across this one. I saw your proposal video when it went viral like half the country (and apparently the world), and it was darling and memorable and, turns out, it’s you! Funny and random. 🙂

  • Elen

    I just came across this! I remember watching that episode of Oprah. You guys are sooo cute <3

  • Jennifer Roberts

    Can’t believe I just found this story. Best thing I’ve seen or read all month!

  • Hello Geraldine! Firstly i want to tell you that You and Rand are looking so amazing as a couple. I like your blog, your photographs & especially “proposal video”. I am also working as an SEO and following you both. You know whenever we are getting tired from our work then we look at your blog and read interesting stories of yours. I liked your this post and actually when i watched your video, i had my goose bumps. Really amazing and look further for your more post. Keep sharing your stories with us and you know it’s my dream to meet both of you!

More from The Blog

On Instagram @theeverywhereist

  • Wonderful show with the most handsome man in the world. #osf
  • The meals that my beloved is able to make in tiny AirBnB kitchenettes never ceases to amaze me.
  • It begins! So excited, @osfashland!
  • Take note: if you ask your husband if you can move to NYC roughly four dozen times, he will start to cave a little.
  • Incredible reading by the love of my life to a packed room at NeueHouse Madison Square. So proud of you, @randderuiter, and the amazing emcee work by @michaeliconking.
  • Re-posting this photo that @wilreynolds took of us and his youngest near the beach outside of Lisbon. We're back home now, and I can't decide what I miss more: this little guy and his brother, or Portugal. Actually, scratch that. I know.
  • This place looks like a damn fairy tale.
  • Lunch with a view of the water, and some of the best seafood of my life.
  • The entire drive from Sintra to Lisbon looks like this. It's just miles of blue sky and rocky beaches.
  • No filter. This is just what Sintra looks like.

All Over The Place

Buy my book and I promise I'll never ask you for anything again.