Marriage Proposals

As a woman, I can't think of anything so humiliating as to bend down on one knee. I just couldn't bring myself to do it; it goes against every bone in my body, against the one lasting tradition that has stood the test of time, a tradition I believe in. Woman like to be wooed, courted and chased after. A man on his knees asking a woman for her hand in marriage is just about as romantic as it gets. I will never understand why some women reverse the tradition and revert to a superstitious folk law just because it's a leap year. Saying that, I don't know what's worse: pressuring a man into proposing to you or or actually doing it yourself.

Aside from being humiliating, the whole idea of asking a man to marry me is utterly terrifying. The whole process of asking his parents for their blessing, choosing his ring, and executing a proposal so glorious the man would have no other option but to say yes makes me quiver- it's so untraditional, so overly asserted,so completely dissolute. I've never really thought too much about it up until now...

On the other hand, I've thought profusely about how I'd like to be proposed to. I guess it's only natural that a woman who harbours an indomitable curiosity about her future, should also think about the man she will marry and how the proposition will come about. I have vivid fantasies about the moment: 1000ft in the air, gliding over the Serengeti in a hot air balloon at sunrise with a magnificent rock being placed on my finger. An exorbitant pipe-dream perhaps, but a woman's imagination has the tendancy to run wild in these circumstances and more often than not imagination is better than reality- or is it that reality fails to live up to expectation?

This is precisly the reason why I feel for men- female expectation. On top of the anxiety, pressure and fear of rejection they must feel when committing to one woman, they have to propose with panache and make sure the gesture is not lacking in originality. If the man I wanted to marry was down on one knee but did it down the local cafe I'd say no, if he rolled over in bed one morning and said "Marry me", I'd say no, if the proposal lacked any thought, I'd say no. Why? Because a marriage proposal (in my eyes) is one of the key
moments of a woman's life- if it were the case that the proposal fell far short of the romance I'd hoped for, I wouldn't want to debase myself and betray the moment in acquiescence.

Earlier this week, whilst out to dinner, I asked a married male friend of mine how he'd proposed to his wife. He stammered and blushed before telling me that she'd needed a new car for ages. Instead of buying her any Range, Merc or Audi, he went to a BMW warehouse, brought her a Z4 and put a note on the windscreen saying: "B.M.W: Be My Wife?" I was gushing at the sentimentality of it, but concurrently found myself feeling a tad embarrased for earlier expressing my selfishly indulgent fantasy of a proposal in a hot air balloon.

This lucid fanasty probably stems from the fact that I am a die hard romantic at heart. I love hearing of proposal stories and about the lengths men go to - from divinely enchanting to subliminally absurd. Here are some of my favourites:


Three splendid examples showing three different ways to coax a woman into marrying you.

1. Propose in public- she can't possibly be callous enough to say no.
2. Make the proposal so unbelieving that she has to ask "Was that a proposal?" It takes the pressure off.
3. Shock her beyond belief by leaping to your fake death so she realises what she could of lost.

Clearly these proposals are proposterously over the top, but it's their effort and origionality that tugs at my heart strings. Even though the success of each proposal is subjective to the two people involved, I hope as most women do, that if there's a man out there crazy enough to marry me, his proposal will be amorously sensational.

Valentine's Day

I've never cared much for Valentine's Day, well not since I was five and my primary school crush sent me a love letter hinting at the possibility of future marriage. Pimpin'.

It reads: " Dear Stephanie, Happy Valentine's Day. I love you becuase you ar very nice and cinde to me so this is wiy I rote a letter to you stephanie. And I hope you will be my wiff wene we growe up and live happaly ever after." [sic]

After that, it was all downhill. Every V-day (Valentine's Day), to fill the lull of romantic suitors, my father decided to step in and start sending me anonymous cards signed with "?".

My contempt for this 'special' day probably stems from the fact I have spent the majority of V-day's boyfriendless; February 14th counts as a self-imposed marker of all the years I've spent single. Every year in the run-up to V-day I'd unsuccessfully try to avoid all the cheesy propaganda shoved in my face; card stores selling soppy, impersonal, pre-printed love notes, florists trading fresh roses, sweet shops with gargantuan chocolate love hearts emblazoned across their front window, not forgetting all the maudlin TV adverts.While most of my girlfriends frantically dithered about what to buy and how much money to spend on their other halves, I made trips to ASDA to fill up on Haagen Daas, bottles of rose and rom-com DVD's.

Being the cynical crone that I was, I used to remind myself that the origin of V-day isn't even about love, it's about the brutal martyrdom of Saint Valentine. I also thought of all the bonuses of not having a boyfriend on V-day. For example, I didn't have to worry what present to buy, I wasn't obliged to break the bank for some tacky scented cologne my man so desperately wanted and most of all I'd get to stay in, eat my own body weight in ice-cream and recite the script to "He's Just Not That Into You" whilst drinking myself into a coma. Of course neither my cynicism or my actions ever helped; the morning after I would wake up feeling puffy-eyed, obese and have a harrowing headache.

For a lot of women being single on V-day is like eating toast with no butter; dry and sometimes painful. Women have been subconsciously conditioned to believe the amount of love a man expresses on V-day is an indication of their own desirability and a symbol of the solidarity of their relationship. If (some) women don't have a man to shower them with attention, presents and romantic surprises they may have a tendency to feel unwanted in comparison to their female counterparts. I'm not saying every single woman is jealous and desperate all year round, but on this particular day, her apparent singledom forces her to evaluate herself in comparison to all the other women out there who are being lavished.

So if single women hate the feeling of being alone on V-day, how do you think coupled-up men feel? Not much better I think. To them it's a minefield of potential arguments with their girlfriend resulting from the wrong card, present or restaurant. They empty their wallets to please their women, even when she says "Oh I don't want anything" so you can 'surprise' her; they waste money on a bunch of roses that are 10x the usual price and book tables at expensive restaurants all the while silently questioning why they have to do these things to prove their love. If they haven't f**ked up the relationship already, have treated you well, have proven their love to you, why should they have to express their dedication on one particular day? The pressure must be immense, especially the longer they've been with her. Every February 14th the man is driven to out-do himself. If he got a bunch of roses and a box of chocolates one year, it'd have to be jewellery the next. After that it would be a spa trip, followed by a holiday, the next year maybe a puppy and then a marriage proposal. The poor guy probably expects rampant porno sex after all the stops he's pulled out, but he knows he won't get it; it'll be candles, rose petals and Lionel Richie melodies. It's no wonder men hate V-day.

I've always wondered whether my aversion towards V-day was out of jealousy (as I said previously) or out of genuine dislike because I don't see the point. Now, coupled-up and with V-day fast approaching I can happily admit it was a bit of both. V-day matters less now that I am in a relationship; I don't notice all the soppy propaganda like I used to and when I do it doesn't really bother me. But I've realised my genuine dislike isn't towards the actual day, it's towards the pressure that media and society places on indoctrinating couples to believe they have to spend, spend, spend for it to be real love. All I'd like are blue roses, a nice card and time spent with my boyfriend. Not that demanding am I?