A single man who built a boyfriend out of wine boxes is now engaged to his intimate but inanimate partner.
Michael James Schneider, a writer and artist based in Portland, Oregon, went viral on social media in February after he unveiled his creation, who is called Franz.
The man-shaped sculpture made out of 11 pieces of folded cardboard invited Schneider’s friends to meet them in Portland’s Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden, where he got down on one box and popped the question.
His friends cried, applauded and took pictures of the new fiancés, before admiring the wonderful engagement ring that Franz got for Schneider – the main feature of which was, of course, a “Push Here” label from a wine box.
The writer’s post went viral again, attracting around 19,000 retweets and likes.
Speaking to PinkNews, Schneider said: “I was so surprised to be engaged, but really we’re in a place where we’re ready for the next step.
“Everything happens for a Riesling,” he added, in the first of many excellent puns.
“Ideally we’d love to have a local venue donate their space and have the wedding be a fundraiser for the ACLU; we want it to be a modest wedding filled with friends and family, but also open to anyone who celebrates love.
“In any case,” he quipped, “we have a rosé future ahead of us.”
One factor in the couple’s favour is their incredible group of friends, who can be seen celebrating the pair’s love in their engagement photos.
“Our friends are so supportive; I’m sure on some level they expected it since they’ve been hearing about me talk about nothing but Franz for the past year,” said Schneider.
“But we knew we wanted it to happen naturally, organically. As the song goes, ‘que Syrah Syrah, whatever will be, will be.'”
Their relationship may be unusual and unorthodox, but Schneider said he and Franz don’t let that put them off.
“Strangers have a lot of different reactions, but our love is just like anyone else’s love,” he revealed.
“We cook dinner together, we have pizza and sweatpants nights while watching Netflix, we have similar political views.
“What’s really annoying is when strangers come up to us in public and ask: ‘Which one’s the ‘man’ and which one’s the ‘person-shaped entity made of boxes of wine mysteriously brought to life?”
“I’m like: ‘THOSE AREN’T THE ONLY TWO GENDERS, LINDA.'”
When asked whether the future might include the pitter-patter of little wine boxes, Schneider responded: “Wow! Kids‽ I mean, we have to meet each other’s parents first. I’m nervous about that.
“But yeah, sometimes I look deep into his spout and fantasise about what our kids would look like,” he admitted, before adding: “And then I stop, because the mental image is disturbing.”
He told PinkNews that he embarked on this grand, social media-fuelled adventure after being “surprised at how popular the first set of photos (announcing our relationship) was.”
After that, Schneider said he “decided to show the full cycle of a relationship, warts and all.
“In a way, it’s a commentary on how relationships are presented on social media as these idealised unattainable things,” he explained.
“And I love that people alternately see these as funny, or eyeroll-worthy, or as a symbol of loneliness. They’re all right.”
As far as the future is concerned, Schneider knows exactly what’s coming – so watch this space.
“I will probably end the series on the one year anniversary of the first photo set,” he revealed, before adding that “yes, I do have the ending planned out already.”
As had already been established by Schneider’s initial set of photos, the two have a comfortable, loving relationship.
They cook and shop together, and enjoy breakfast in bed with their cat and walks in the park.
So it was only natural that Schneider’s followers were delighted with the news – and ready to let the puns flow.
One well-wisher who was on his wavelength wrote: “Meant to be! Everything happens for a Riesling.”
“As shiraz eggs are eggs, you know I’m all in,” said a supporter.
Another said: “Will it be a beautiful autumn blush wedding?”
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“I can believe this will happen to me someday, chiant I?” tweeted one wistful fan.
And another really pushed the boat out, writing: “When it comes to happiness you Shiraz-k yourself ‘wine not?’ You deserve each other and make a bubbly couple ❤️❤️.
“After all, when it comes to love nothing Chianti go wrong!
“I can imagine a nice wedding with a choir singing ‘Will you still love me tomorrow’ by Amy Winehouse,” they added.
Last year, Australian senator Eric Abetz claimed that the legalisation of same-sex marriage would lead to people marrying objects.
Abetz made his argument during the country’s postal vote on the subject, which ended with Australia voting overwhelmingly for marriage equality, a decision which became law in December.
Also last year, an Objectum Sexual woman in Leeds announced that she had got engaged to a female chandelier she bought on eBay.
Amanda Liberty spent £400 to bring the chandelier, who she named Lumiere after the character in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, over from the European mainland.
The 33-year-old said that “as soon as I saw Lumiere on eBay, I knew immediately that she was the one for me and it was love at first sight.”