Movie Memories

A Creative Proposal

Tim & Lisa – 1985

I enjoy movies. I like how they transport me to a different time and place full of new and exciting adventures. And I appreciate the way they help bond us all with a common set of experiences, from humorous or intensely dramatic to adventurous or educationally insightful.

My taste in movies varies wildly. One minute I find myself enraptured with the incredible majesty and dramatic musical score of the 1965 British epic Dr. Zhivago. And then I can be heard throughout my neighborhood, laughing hysterically at Zoolander, the 2001 American comedy starring Ben Stiller.

My years at the University of Oregon were filled with plenty of movie outings. I remember many movie nights at the 180 PLC lecture hall. And watching Friday the 13th at the Student Manor Apartments on East 18th Avenue with my roommate will not be forgotten. But there are two movies that stand above the rest.

Star Wars tops my list. This all-time classic was the first movie I remember seeing in a theater, and I was awestruck. The movie’s out-of-this-world yet captivating characters, amazing special effects and riveting story swept me and my friends off to “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away....”

The second movie is St. Elmo’s Fire, a personification of the ’80s. I wasn’t terribly enamored by its cinematic expertise, but it’s the movie my wife, Lisa, and I were watching when I proposed after dating for three months. It was clearly not the most romantic setting for a marriage proposal, yet it seemed pretty creative to me and my friend Byron as we planned all the details.

In preparation, I spirited away one of Lisa’s rings, using some lame excuse I can’t remember. Taking it to a local jeweler, I had the engagement ring perfectly sized. I also needed to watch St. Elmo’s Fire (Byron had seen it), to get a sense of when to pop the BIG question. The scene where Alec Newbary (played by Judd Nelson) proposes to Leslie Hunter (played by Ally Sheedy) was ideal.

Byron and I invited Lisa and several of her Delta Gamma sisters to see the movie with us. After finding seats in the theater and enduring an unbearably long wait, the much anticipated movie scene arrived. With huge butterflies in my stomach, I knelt on that sticky cinema floor and pulled the ring from the jeweler’s box.

Reaching for Lisa’s hand, I asked, “Will you marry me?” She simply laughed, sure that I was joking. Who in his right mind proposes in a movie theater? She snapped the box closed and resumed watching the movie. I was stunned and slipped back in my seat.

Looking at Byron for encouragement, I disappointedly whispered, “Did I say it wrong?” “No,” he assured me. So I leaned over to Lisa, tapped her on the shoulder and said, “I wasn’t joking. Will you marry me?” She looked at me and answered, “Yes!” Her friends started yelling, and pandemonium broke out as others trying to watch the movie loudly told us to be quiet. We left the theater, and the rest is history.

What are your favorite movie memories, especially those involving the University of Oregon? I would love to hear about them! Until then, go take in a good flick … You never know what might happen.

And, Go Ducks!

Tim Clevenger ’86
Executive Director