"I made Jennifer the luckiest woman in Minnesota," Rusty Gatenby told me Wednesday.
Pretty big talk for a man who cried as much as Gatenby did while proposing marriage to Jennifer Vock.
Gatenby calls Vock the COO of "The Rusty Gatenby Review with Melinda Jacobs." Vock is better described as a techie who runs the sound, music and video while providing commentary as chief sarcasm officer.
I do believe Rusty outcried Jennifer during the proposal, which is viewable at therustygatenbyreview.com. Vock did appear surprised when Gatenby pulled out a ring box, but didn't get down on one knee, while their favorite song, "I Won't Give Up" by Jason Mraz, was performed by Tim Mahoney.
"Oh, my God, are you [indecipherable] honey. Did you all know this was going to happen?" Vock asked those present in the studio.
My clue of an engagement came after I left Gatenby a Tuesday voice mail, seeking to check the status of an upcoming interview he's doing onto which I hope to piggyback.
"Have you seen my next show? Watch to the end," was the voice-mail message Gatenby left in a tone that seemed fraught with subtext.
"It's a magical moment all about love," Gatenby said, dreamily when I got him on the phone Wednesday. "Posted it this morning. It's embarrassing because you see a grown man cry. I really do look awful when I cry."
Was it the ugly cry about which Oprah speaks? I asked Gatenby before viewing the website.
"I don't know. I just look awful when I cry," Gatenby.
Asked about the lack of proposal knee action, Gatenby said "It was a cramped space. There are so many things I wish I had done — gotten down on one knee, put the ring on her finger, not lose my composure."
Will the third time be the charm?
Gatenby laughed that famous laugh of his.
"Yes!" he said, "and if I didn't know it was for real, for real, I wouldn't have done it. She is too special."
Theirs has been a prototypical postmillennial romance: They started interacting on Facebook in the fall of 2012.
She was a follower of the former KSTP morning traffic and entertainment guy.
"We chatted for months before we finally met in person. When we finally did meet [in January 2013], that one date lasted a whole weekend," he said. "She drove up and we met at Maynard's, Excelsior. I knew that, 'Oh, my gosh, she is gorgeous and then she started to make me laugh. There came a point when we were both laughing, and I didn't want the moment to end and she didn't either. So we just hung out the whole weekend."
The father of four said half his brood witnessed the action. "Ruby and Reed were in the studio when I surprised everyone." (Ruby is the high school-bound, volleyball team aspirant; Reed is the grade schooler who also plays lacrosse and football; Connor is captain of the University of Minnesota Gophers men's lacrosse team and a business student at the U; Ella is a senior business analyst at Target, if she hasn't been promoted since last I talked to her.)
Are more Gatenby kids planned? "No comment," said Rusty.)
"Melinda was the first person to know," said Gatenby. "I called her up and said, 'What do you think? Should I do this on our show?' She said Hell, yes. The second person who knew was Tim Mahoney. I called him and said, 'I know you're in the studio. What do you think? And would you do our song? And he said Hell, yes. The only other person who knew was the photographer. I told him, 'Heads up. We have a covert operation here. At the end of the show, make sure your camera's ready. This might go down.' "
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