Richard Blackwood, the legislative assistant for Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Ky.), wasn’t necessarily looking to meet a woman that night. In fact, the entire evening was fuzzy as he had had too much to drink.
One vague memory involved getting acquainted with Amy Brimer, the sorority sister of Lucas’s then-deputy press secretary. Brimer was spending the summer in Washington as an intern. “Apparently I was talking to her for about 20 minutes,” Blackwood said, slightly embarrassed, assuring that getting blasted isn’t his normal behavior. “The substance of the conversation escapes me.”
The next day, they returned to their lives — he, here in Washington and she, at graduate school at Texas A & M University where she was earning a masters in policy analysis.
But not all was forgotten.
The deputy press secretary had a photograph of college friends on her desk at the office, one of whom was Brimer. Blackwood couldn’t help but notice her, smiling to himself that she existed even though he wouldn’t pursue anything at that time.
She, too, had a good impression of him. “I thought he was very witty, very funny, of course very cute. Oh gosh, very charismatic.”
In 2003, Brimer completed her graduate program and secured a job in Washington with the Urban Institute. She went on a few bad dates, and decided she’d forget about dating for a while. “I thought, I don’t know if I’m ever going to feel that connection,” she said.
Shortly thereafter, Lucas’s deputy press secretary decided to move back to Oklahoma, and a going away party ensued.
This is when Blackwood, 30, and Brimer, 27, reconnected — and this time, it’s locked in his memory. “We ended up sitting next to each other at dinner,” Blackwood recalled. “I guess I had a real immediate comfort level around her. In a lot of ways we were on the same wavelength.”
She agrees. “I can’t recall any big fights or anything like that. It was pretty smooth sailing. I just feel like we communicate very well … so we don’t have any huge blowups or anything.”
Indeed, Blackwood and Brimer seemed to be cut from the same cloth; they both hail from small Oklahoma towns. “Immediately I felt like I could totally be myself and say whatever moronic thing that came into my head,” he said.
He adds, “That, and she’s gorgeous.”
Blackwood says their relationship was serious from the onset: “It wasn’t the kind of relationship where you casually see each other one or two nights of week.”
There wasn’t one moment where it hit him that Brimer was the woman he’d marry: “I was like the frog in the boiling water. You jump into the tepid water and all of a sudden it’s boiling.”
A most comical part of their courtship was the manner in which Blackwood proposed. The couple had already discussed marriage and gone ring shopping. Now it was only a question of when — and how.
Blackwood bought the ring and had it delivered to his parents home in Wagoner, Okla. The couple planned to spend the holidays at his grandparents home in Midwest City, Okla. this past Christmas. Blackwood was to pick Brimer up at the Oklahoma City Airport and propose to her there. But her flight was delayed for two hours because of bad weather, and the airline lost her luggage.
When Brimer arrived, she was in a foul mood. “She’s very high stress,” said Blackwood, explaining that the lost luggage stored her hair straightener, makeup, hair dryer and new outfit. Blackwood said to himself, “I’m not proposing to her like this.”
Back at his grandparents home, the couple was getting ready for a family picture when Blackwood began fishing the ring out of his bag to propose. Just then, her cell phone began ringing. A sorority sister had gotten engaged.
“I’m in the living room, and she’s like, ‘I need a hug,” he said, mimicking the sad look planted on her face with his bottom lip jutted out. “I said why are you sad? She said, ‘I want to be engaged.’”
This was his big moment. Blackwood dropped to two knees, then remembered the traditional one knee, and asked Brimer to marry him. “I don’t know if she actually said yes,” he said. “She made some noise of consent.”
The couple is planning a July wedding in her hometown of Ardmore, Okla.
Being the extremely private person that he is, Blackwood shares little of his personal life with coworkers even though they often pry. “I take great pains in making sure they know nothing,” he said. “Even in my engagement I am very secretive about the whole thing. I’ve always been like that. I don’t like anybody knowing what I’m up to.”
Recently lunching with coworkers, he recalls being asked when he and Brimer will have children. “I told them I was sterile,” he joked, explaining, “I don’t like being asked questions sometimes.”