When my husband proposed, he trained a band of kittens to spell "WILL YOU MARRY ME?" on the front lawn of our favorite Italian villa. A string quartet of capybaras played, "I Will," and when I said yes, fireworks exploded and a convocation of eagles screeched, "SHE SAID YES!" into the night sky.
A flash mob of whales danced to "Fly Me to the Moon."
We spent the night in the emergency room because the diamond ring he gave me was so heavy my finger broke off. But I was happy. My dreams had come true.
NOT REALLY. My fingers are all intact. But I get the feeling when I told people my proposal story, they wanted something more like the above than what actually happened.
I wasn't disappointed by the way my husband asked me to marry him. I loved it. It was perfect for us. But in the days following our engagement, I continuously got that look from people that said, "That's it?" when I reached the anticlimactic end to our Proposal Story.
Here's how it really went down:
It was our anniversary, April 1st, April Fool's Day.
My then boyfriend and I were going to dinner at my favorite restaurant that night, The Hungry Cat, where I planned to eat his weight in raw oysters.
The whole day at work (we worked in the same office), he was acting just left of normal. Between meetings and picking over the previous night's event leftovers, I wondered if he might…but naaaah.
We'd vacillated between joking about how boring our married life would be, and just being happily unmarried as long as we both shall live. Marriage wasn't big on the agenda: a bigger, better Taco Tuesday was.
Anyway, we left work that night, after I changed into a dress that allowed for the consumption of mass quantities while still being cute enough for anniversary pictures. Not too fancy, but more than clean. Just like us.
Dinner was delicious, fun, and devoid of diamond rings. I have to admit, I was relieved. I don't embarrass easily, but something about having a restaurant full of strangers wearing seafood bibs ogling what I'm sure would be a sputtery, awkward "milestone" made me cranky.
We went home where we promptly got to our personal nighttime rituals. He puttered around the kitchen, I played Bejeweled Blitz on my computer.
At one point my boyfriend shuffled into our room and started rifling through some papers on his desk. Nothing out of the ordinary there.
A couple minutes later, our cat wandered into the room and that's when things got blurry.
"Well, we're all here now. I guess this is as good a time as any -"
And he got on one knee and whipped out a little black velvet box.
He had waited for our cat.
"Will you - "
"SHUT UP. SHUT UP." I think I shoved him. "YES. Holy shit."
He laughed. I swore some more. I texted my best friends. Nobody believed me because a) it was me and b) it was April Fool's Day.
And that was how it happened. And that is about where people say, "Oh…how nice."
The ring was small, vintage, and lovely.
No whales, no fireworks, just us.
I'm not going to lie, there was a brief period of time when news of my engagement was still making the rounds that I avoided telling the story. It wasn't that I didn't like my the way my husband and I became affianced, it's that I started feeling like people were somehow judging our relationship. Especially living in Los Angeles, mothership to the larger than life and bizarre-is-better, it was hard not to feel like we "owed" people a better story.
I fully support a huge elaborate event for proposals if that what suits you. Not everybody is my husband and me, and creativity and big declarations of love can be magical. However, what I don't understand is how the proposal has come ]to overshadow the actual idea of marriage.
Like so many ways popular culture attempts to influence how a woman's life SHOULD be, I wonder if THE PROPOSAL is one of those last patriarchal norms that many woman still cling vehemently to?
Apparently somewhere in the realm of 21% of women are dissatisfied with how they were proposed to.
Clearly getting an engagement ring and choosing the right one is of the utmost importance - more than a third of women surveyed (38 per cent) said that an engagement ring matters because it is a symbol of how much their partner loves them.
...Nearly a quarter of all respondents (24 per cent) said they didn't like any of their friends' engagement rings; one in fifteen ladies (7 per cent) admitted they do like their friends' engagement rings, but would never tell them.
Some women had modelled the design of their own engagement rings on friends' rings - whilst others had made sure their engagement rings were "bigger and better" than their friends'.
Even when I was proposed to, and I got swept up in the unanimous approval of everybody I knew regardless of where they fell on the political spectrum, I couldn't help but feel like I was participating in something that at its worst, encouraged a sense of competitiveness and materialism amongst women.
Asking someone to legally bind themselves to you is such a massive thing to ask in the first place, does it really need all the histrionics? If so many women are supposedly displeased with the way they are proposed to, why don't they set it up the way they want it and do the proposing themselves? If we are enlightened, smart, equality-minded women, why are we falling back into the crusty old traditions of expecting our man to control the trajectory of our relationship?
When I was chatting with my friend Nicole about this post, her response was, "I want it to be special, but mostly I just want to ABLE to legally marry my girlfriend." Nicole and her girlfriend live in Texas.
I still struggle somewhat with all the proposal, engagement, marriage stuff. I participated in it in a relatively traditional manner, and all along the way I questioned how it jived with my beliefs, my politics, and how I view myself.
It comes down to what at the end of the day makes you and your partner feel happy, in love, and excited. Nobody gets to decide that for you. Sometimes a proposal is just a proposal, a question posed between two people
Capybara quartet not necessary.
Have you proposed to someone? Been proposed to? How did you feel about your proposal? Care to share your proposal story?