|Please Marry Me, Darling: |
I Wore These Tights Just for You
Even before the nation’s hyper-emotive Scientologist, Tom Cruise, proposed very publicly to his girlfriend, what’s-her-name, at the Eiffel Tower, men with romance coursing through their veins have been scheming to devise dramatic ways to propose in public. Many find this all achingly romantic. I say it’s a dangerous trend that must be stopped.
First, some of these proposals are a downright menace to public safety. What could be more reckless than renting a huge billboard off the Interstate that says, “Lucille, will you marry me? I love you, Gomer” and waiting till Lucille happens to drive down that patch of the road? Maybe at just that moment when Lucille approaches, she’ll be fuming about their lengthy courtship, currently 11 years, eight months, 10 days and 26 minutes! (Not that she’s counting.) Not only is this approach cowardly (Is he not man enough to ask in person?), but poor Lucille may be so shocked that she slams into the side of the road. Trust me: No bride wants to hobble down the aisle wearing a clunky leg cast.
Other alpha males, or alpha male wannabes, are snapping up books on romantic proposals and scouring the Internet for inventive ways to pop the question. As a result, we have men falling on bended knees at the Pyramids in Egypt, on gondolas in Venice, and in five-star restaurants frequented by the glitterati, where the men propose loudly enough for the entire restaurant to break into wild applause as a dozen diners record the event on their cell phone-camcorders. Even bowling alleys have become soft targets for the mushy-hearted. More than one woman has had the mixed blessing of having her man propose before the rest of the teary-eyed league, while she is teased into finding her own ring somewhere in the rack of 68 extremely heavy bowling balls behind her.
All this sudden knee-dropping may be good for the chiropractic industry, but it’s no gift to women. Perhaps they are simply too stunned to say no, but my guess is that women, who are usually excessively concerned about hurting the feelings of others, generally accept these showy proposals whether they want to marry the guy or not. Reports I’ve read about these very public “Will you marry me’s?” nearly always end with the woman bursting into tears, and sometimes shrieking with joy. But one honest gal admitted to first calling 911, assuming that her guy had collapsed because of a heart attack and not a heart overflowing.
After all, it would take a phenomenally coldhearted female to refuse a man who went to all the trouble of dressing up like an Elizabethan nobleman and commandeered a public stage to recite Shakespearian sonnets to his fair lady in the audience, culminating in a bent-knee proposal. This takes huge gumption, especially since the man is not an actor, but a junior accountant who feels self-conscious wearing tights. But what can she do? Hundreds of strangers are crying with joy at this Oprah moment. Let’s face it, even if the woman had been planning to dump Romeo she is now stuck like epoxy.
Speaking with some measure of experience, marriage is sobering enough without orchestrating televised proposals atop the Empire State Building. Fortunately, it didn’t occur to my husband to arrange for a Jumbotron at Wrigley Field to capture us on screen when he popped the question. I wouldn’t have minded him dazzling me with a three-karat marquis-cut diamond ring parked in a bucket of ice in a quiet, romantic restaurant, but my mother always taught me to be practical. My husband did propose in public, though he had the good sense to wait till the smelly vagrant on the park bench next to us had rolled away first. I began to wonder why he suddenly seemed nervous, but it all became clear when he, too, bent down on one knee and handed me a proposal note.
Unfortunately, after the initial tears and embraces, terror set in. At dinner, my future husband expressed his tender feelings by drinking himself under the table, mumbling “I’m sure this is a good idea, I’m sure of it,” while dousing his anxiety in hops.
It was not the proposal of my dreams, but it got the job done. In the end, that’s all that mattered. Besides, the tables were turned a few months later when my husband’s courage about our marriage soared and mine plummeted. The day of the wedding, somebody pushed me down the aisle, which was helpful as I was not wearing my glasses and could have easily ended up in the ladies’ lounge instead of on the dais.
Happily, we’ve had several romantic dinners since that less-than-sentimental evening of the proposal, eighteen years and four children ago. And I take comfort knowing that other men I had dated might have contrived far more romantic proposals, though they would have made lousy husbands. Clearly, I got a far better deal. Of course it’s sweet when a man arranges for Mrs. Claus to step out of a Christmas parade and propose to a young woman on behalf of a man swooning in love. But a word of warning, gentlemen: Once you pull a stunt like that, you have set the bar for romance permanently high for the rest of your marriages. Once you spring for five dozen long-stemmed red roses on Valentine’s Day and light up a room with 47 multi-colored tapers, don’t expect to get away with bringing home flowers from the gas station ever again.
So women, beware: America’s men are conniving to flabbergast you with their public displays of affection. If you’re a woman with a boyfriend and having second thoughts about him, and see a Jumbotron headed your way at the ball game, make a break for it. Otherwise, before you can say “Strike!” you’ll find yourself engaged in front of 40,000 cheering fans, with no visible means of escape.
Consider yourselves warned.
Model: Lizzie Miller
Wilhelmina Models 10/20 Division NYC
Photographer: Darren Trentacosta