Because his girlfriend has the relentlessly suspicious mind of a “Masterpiece Theatre” detective, Joe Czerniak hid the engagement ring he planned to surprise her with in his right tube sock before entering Wrigley Field Sunday night.
Czerniak, 37, a third-generation baker from Des Plaines, dared not even reach down to check that the ring was still there. Every few minutes, though, he furtively used his other foot to tap the lump in his tube sock.
Czerniak and his girlfriend, Priyal Patel, also 37, a health-care consultant from Mount Prospect — both of them diehard Cubs fans — lost themselves in the suspense and giddiness of the game.
Then, after the last pitch, they lingered beneath a blissful World Series victory haze that settled over the ballpark and wandered toward the infield. A few steps from the Cubs dugout — and trailing Patel by a few feet — Czerniak handed his cell phone to another Cubs fan and quietly asked her to take a few pictures.
“Pictures of what?” she said.
“Of me proposing to my girlfriend,” Czerniak said, and then he got down on one knee, reached into his sock and presented the ring.
“The only thing that could make this day better is if you marry me,” he told Patel.
Overwhelmed, she froze.
“About 10 seconds passed — and I’m a nervous guy — I was like, ‘Come on, come on, hurry up and say yes so I can get up,’ ” he said of his internal dialogue.
“And then she said, ‘Yes,’ and we hugged it and kissed it out.”
The couple held hands during the mile-long walk to their car, Czerniak said, “Then, we grabbed some mac-and-cheese from Walmart and went home and cooked it.”