On most days there’s nothing romantic about the intersection of State Street and Erie Boulevard. It’s busy, it’s noisy, it’s mostly concrete.
But on Monday a mysterious message went up on the big, white marquee once used by the long-out-of-business State Theater. “Will you marry me” it says on one line, “Is it you” on the second and on the third, “Answer coming soon.”
The large, plastic letters that spell out the message are world-weary and slightly askew. The two red “U”s are held together with packing tape and black letters have been substituted where there weren’t enough blues to complete the last line. But the words can’t help but produce at least fleeting thoughts of hearts and flowers.
“Maybe it’s me,” mused Tonya Davenport of Schenectady as she sat in the shade across the street from the marquee Wednesday afternoon.
“I hope it’s not me. I’ve been married three times,” her friend, Tamara Rheaume of Schenectady, quipped. But as she studied the sign, the sweet sentiment seemed to sink in and she conceded, “It’s very romantic. There’s not many romantics left in the world.”
John Cotazino of Schenectady, who was parking cars Wednesday across the street from the marquee in the lot by Katie O’Byrne’s Irish Pub, assured that he was not the Romeo who paid to put up the proposal.
“But today is my anniversary,” he noted. “Fourteen years with no marriage license. That’s what you call true love. Best 14 years of my life.”
Exactly who the marquee’s message is meant for won’t be revealed until late Friday night, when marquee owner John Matarazzo adds the name of the potential bride- or groom-to-be to the sign. The Daily Gazette has already learned the name, but is withholding it so as not to ruin the surprise.
Matarazzo fretted that he had no question marks to properly punctuate the proposal on the marquee.
“I have to order them,” he said. “I had some, but somehow, [they’re] gone.”
He’s been renting out the marquee for more than 20 years, and during that time it has held information about community events and promotions for all sorts of businesses. Every once in a while a personal message, such as the one hanging now, appears.
“They all keep renting it because they get results,” Matarazzo said.
He declined to say how much it would cost a hopeless romantic to profess his or her love in big, block letters at the corner of Erie and State, but simply said, regarding the marquee, “It rents plenty.”