Check, please.

I just finished talking Mr. Wonderful through some negotiations with his ex about child support and time with the Ladybug. Emotional landmine, anyone?

So, to cleanse my palate, I’m going to tell you about my favorite moment from our recent Oregon excursion.

Mr. Wonderful worked far longer than we had anticipated on Thursday, which had us heading to the beach several hours later than we had initially planned. We drove through Portland rush hour and finally found ourselves at Cannon Beach.

It’s basically the most beautiful beach I’ve ever seen.

We walked up and down the cool sand, and decided that we would enjoy Seafood Feast! before driving to his aunt’s house. We put our names in at a nice restaurant right on the water, and we waited.

Finally, the young hostess seated us … at the only table in the entire restaurant that didn’t have a view of the beach. Seriously. The entire restaurant was windows, and our seat faced … a planter in the lounge area.

Mr. Wonderful has the ability to make a fuss and sound really nice about it. He worked his magic, playing the “We’re from the Midwest” card. The hostess’ eyes lit up, and she said she would take care of us. Turns our her supervisor is from Nebraska. We all became fast friends.

In a few minutes, darling hostess led us to the best table in the house. It was a corner table that directly faced the beach and Haystack Rock. The view was breathtaking.

The table to our left was noteworthy because there was a modest bouquet of roses on the table, and a young couple that looked to be about 12 years old. Ok, maybe not quite. They were in college. And they weren’t drinking. And she kept looking at her left hand.

They had just gotten engaged a few minutes before we sat down. It was lovely.

I took their picture for them, but was worried about encroaching on their very special moment.

A few minutes later, a man and a little girl approached their table. Because I am skilled in the ways of eavesdropping, I know that he introduced himself and his daughter, and then he said this:

“My wife and I couldn’t help but notice that you two are having a really special night.”

The young couple beamed, and she showed her ring. They chatted a bit more. Finally, the man said, “You just reminded us so much of us – we’ve been married 11 years but I remember getting engaged like it was yesterday. We’d like to help you get started out on the right foot and pick up your tab tonight.”

The girl looked shocked. The boy’s jaw dropped to the floor. It was obvious that the dinner, which probably ran about $40 since they didn’t have drinks or dessert, was a stretch for him. The man shook their hands, wished them the best, and said a few words to their server. He and his daughter then sat back down at the booth behind us, with his wife and son.

A few minutes later, the young couple approached their table. The humble and reserved boy said, “Thank you so much! Please, can I at least get the tip?”

The man and his wife would hear nothing of it. And somehow, the man ended up outside with the couple, their camera in his hands, taking tons of pictures of them in the beach twilight. As Mr. Wonderful and I saw him joyfully capturing the moment, we heard his wife explain what it meant to get engaged. “It means that they’re going to promise to be best friends forever – just like me and Daddy. Isn’t that exciting?

She then told the kids, “We don’t know these people, but we’re doing something nice for them. See, this is what you do. We’re paying it forward. And they’ll tell their friends and their family, and then they’ll all be inspired to do something nice for other people, too.”

Finally, the man and the couple came back into the restaurant. They were all jubilant. The man introduced the couple to his kids, and the young man told the little girl that maybe someday – if her dad says it’s ok – she can get engaged, too.

I didn’t cry, but I was close.

And that was pretty much the best dinner ever. I had the halibut, but that wasn’t the main course.

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