Two Epic Dates and an Incredible Arcade Game Feat

When Alyssa Bush traveled from Baltimore to Seattle in February 2019, it was mainly to visit a friend with a new baby. But she also wanted to explore the city. With her friend preoccupied by parenthood, Ms. Bush logged into Tinder and Bumble, hoping to connect with someone she could meet for a drink or a meal. On both dating apps, she matched with Jennifer Banegas.

Within hours of connecting, Ms. Bush, 38, and Ms. Banegas, 42, went out for drinks at Unicorn, a bar in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. Their outing turned into “a 12-hour date” that included “musical singalongs, a drag show, drinks with one of the drag queens from ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ and 2 a.m. breakfast,” Ms. Bush said.

The next day, they got together again for a shorter, 10-hour date that started at the Elliott Bay Book Company and ended with dinner at Saint John’s Bar and Eatery. In between were several hours of playing Ms. Pac-Man at the Raygun Lounge.

The month before the two met, Ms. Bush had legally separated from her ex-wife; their divorce was finalized in July 2020 after 10 years of marriage. After her back-to-back dates with Ms. Banegas, who became divorced from her ex-husband in 2009 after six years of marriage, Ms. Banegas said she “was on cloud nine.”

“I just remember this feeling of complete joy,” Ms. Banegas added, “and thinking I wanted to get a tattoo of Ms. Pac-Man; that way, whenever I saw it, I could remember that feeling.”

The following month, Ms. Bush returned to Seattle to visit Ms. Banegas. She went back a month later — this time not just to see Ms. Banegas, but also to look for an apartment. That June, she relocated to the city.

In June 2020, a year after Ms. Bush moved to Seattle, she moved in with Ms. Banegas. But before that milestone came another for the couple: Getting matching Ms. Pac-Man tattoos.

A graduate of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Ms. Bush, who is from Laurel, Md., received a master’s degree in social work from the University of Maryland Baltimore and currently works for an insurance company in care management. Ms. Banegas, who works as a grocery store manager, grew up in Massapequa, N.Y., and attended Suffolk Community College in Selden, N.Y.

That August, the couple made what Ms. Banegas described as a “pandemic splurge,” purchasing a tabletop arcade machine that included a version of Ms. Pac-Man and the game BurgerTime. The next month, she made another expensive purchase: a diamond and alexandrite ring.

In October 2020, Ms. Banegas began what she called “Operation Proposal.” Her plan: to play BurgerTime well enough that she could change the four highest-scoring names on the game’s scoreboard to read: WILL YOU MARRY ME?

“This is not as easy as it sounds,” Ms. Banegas said (and this reporter did not suggest it did). “I scored too high and blew the order of words.”

The next day, she tried again. But no matter how well she played, Ms. Banegas could not knock the highest scoring name, KEN, from its place atop the scoreboard. “Instead it read: KEN WIL YOU MAR ME?” she said. “So I went with it!”

When she called Ms. Bush over to see her new high scores, her first reaction was, “‘Are you Ken?’” Ms. Banegas recalled. “I said, ‘No, keep looking. She said, ‘Are you Wil —Oh!’ And then she said, ‘Yes.’”

“Alyssa’s nickname is now Ken,” Ms. Banegas added.

The two wed on April 1 at the Elkridge Furnace Inn in Elkridge, Md. Samantha Novoa, Ms. Banegas’s niece who was ordained by the Universal Life Church for the occasion, officiated before 88 guests, all of whom tested negative for Covid, and most of whom were vaccinated.

Marrying on April Fools’ Day seemed fitting, Ms. Banegas said, because “I always say, ‘Alyssa must be a fool to marry me.” And, yes, there was an April Fools’ Day joke. After Ms. Novoa explained the significance of their wedding rings, the couple feigned losing them as the ring box was opened and fake ones tumbled out.

“They made a big cling clang noise, and we starting searching all over the floor for the rings,” Ms. Banegas said. “Then Alyssa and I turned around and said, ‘April Fools!’”