CHALK ONE UP TO ASKING NICELY, IN PUBLIC

lisa-tegenLisa Tegen came into work at Java Stop two weeks ago to find this message on the chalkboard. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

It isn’t quite as audacious as, say, proposing on a JumboTron or a Port Authority bus with the media on hand to witness.

But one Fair Haven teenager earned big community points — and secured a prom date — for his creativity with a coffee shop chalkboard one night two weeks ago.

That’s when Rumson-Fair Haven junior Pat Gunther left something at the Java Stop for his girlfriend, Lisa Tegen.

When she came into work the next morning, she was caught off guard by the shop’s chalkboard next to the door.

It read: “Lisa, will you go to prom with me? Call me, Pat.”

This was surprising to Tegen, 16, for two reasons: One, it’s not often you get asked on a date in public, and two, Pat had already asked her to the prom. And she’d already said yes.

Except his first shot at it wasn’t quite as…  romantic.

“Originally he just said, ‘We’re going to the prom right?'” Tegen said. “He had already asked me, but the thing is to ask nicely. So he got a little creative.”

Even though this story lacks the wallop of, say, a wholly unexpected prom invite from a near-stranger, Gunther’s message has been the talk among customers of the River Road shop. When redbankgreen popped in last week, the bulletin for the barista had Karen McCarty, of Rumson, bowled over.

“This is adorable,” she said. “I want prom pictures.”

One of the shop’s employees, Trudi Williams, said the Stop has been abuzz since the invite appeared.

“I came into work and was like, what’s all the uproar about?” Williams said. “Everybody was asking me about it. They think it was like a marriage proposal.”

“All the mom’s are like, ‘Did you say yes?'” Tegen said.

Gunther’s public request also spurred a potential rival to action. When Tegen met with redbankgreen, she saw that a stranger had added his own message to Pat’s.

“Go With Me, Matt,” it read, with a phone number, which Tegen called.

She politely decline Matt’s offer. If he’s serious about taking her to prom, maybe next year he’ll have to ask in a way that beats Gunther’s proposal.

Can you say JumboTron?