Cutest Couple contest loser considering a comeback

By SCOTT SAALMAN
Guest Columnist

A woman at the chocolate store recognized me.

“You were in the Cutest Couple Contest,” she said.

Scott and Brynne

Indeed, I was a contestant, albeit a reluctant one, along with my fiancé Brynne, a most willing one, in the Herald-sponsored contest.

Sadly, we lost.

An older couple from Celestine was apparently cuter than us.

Let’s face it, they are cuter than us. More on them later.

It wasn’t my idea to enter.

I found out about our participation from Brynne when she forwarded an email to me emailed to her from the Herald. The subject line read: “Thanks for participating in our Cutest Couple!” When I opened her note, Brynne cheekily typed, “I may have entered us.” Prior to this, I didn’t even know there was such a contest.

The “may” part of her sentence gave me hope that maybe she hadn’t entered us — goofy girlfriend Brynne just messing with me momentarily.

But there we were, our couple photo among hundreds of other couple photos vying for the online cutest couple title to be determined by popular vote. 4,200 votes were ultimately cast — 4,198 coming from the same Celestine computer (just kidding). The winner was announced on Valentine’s Day.

I bet many of the actual entrants visited the site just to privately share snide commentary with their significant others about their competitors. “Look at that Scott guy. He’s not cute at all, but that Brynne sure is a babe. She’s the only thing giving them a fighting chance.”

OK, maybe I was the only one saying that.

The prizes enticed Brynne to enter. A steakhouse gift card, a fresh bouquet, a gift card to a home décor place and “a gift basket of romantic treats” from the aforementioned chocolate store. I would’ve gladly given Brynne these very same items as a prize to not enter us into the contest.

What is a romantic treat from a chocolate store anyway? The best I can come up with is Nutella.

Don’t get me wrong. I was not embarrassed to be seen with Brynne in such a public display. After all, it was I who surprised her with a public marriage proposal on the Jim and Pat Thyen Performance Stage at the Astra Theatre last December. Luckily, we were too far away from the microphone to be heard by the audience or they would’ve heard what I really said to my prospective bride when I was down on my right knee, my face tilted up at her face. I was so nervous and choked up over what I was about to ask that I couldn’t get any sound to exit my pie hole. It didn’t help that 300+ people behind me in the audience were knowingly bearing witness to the proposal, most expecting Brynne to say no. All I could say to her at that very romantic, life-changing moment was: “%&^#.”

Yes, I said “%&^#.”

Not “Will you marry me,” but one word: “%&^#.”

The diamond glowing between us beneath the stage lights is what actually communicated to her about what was happening, prompting her to jump up excitedly and say, “Yes.” The audience applauded, not knowing I hadn’t technically popped the question. But in her mind – and in mine – the question was asked.

Just as I surprised Brynne with a very public marriage proposal, two months later, she surprised me with an entry into the very public cutest couple contest. Payback perhaps.

The photo Brynne submitted of us was from a Van Morrison concert. It’s a great photo of her, a great memory of us, and though it would be easy for me to say it’s an unflattering image of me, the truth is, I look good anytime I’m in a photo with Brynne. Quasimodo would look good with Brynne. The photo caption read: “We found each other on eHarmony! 2 years later, we are engaged! Our love and adventures continue!”

Not only did we not win, a few days before the announcement, as we perused thru all the photos, scouting our competition, we immediately knew who was going to win: Ray and Aileen.

In the photo, Ray and Aileen are both draped in purple sashes distinguishing them as Senior King and Senior Queen, respectively, during the town of Celestine’s recent 175th anniversary celebration. She wears a princess crown. He wears suspenders and a black top hat. The caption tells us the couple has 10 children, 19 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.

In other words, 40 automatic votes!

Brynne and I looked up from the photo of Ray and Aileen. Then we looked at each other. We knew the score. I said, “%&^#.”

Deservedly, Ray and Aileen Lueken were named the area’s cutest couple. Even the woman at the chocolate store said she knew they would win as soon as she saw their photo.

Next year, maybe Brynne and I will enter as newlyweds. I already feel like a winner. She said yes. The adventure continues.




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