I do, we do: Proposing in public

September 14, 2012

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Last week, Gawker drew our attention to one of the worst proposals of all time; a man chose to fake his own death before proposing to his girlfriend. He said he did it because "I wanted her to realize how empty her life would be without me and how life would have no meaning without me." As one commenter wrote, "Still less obnoxious than a flashmob."

Comedian Julia Weiss says that's the problem with proposals: they're all about knowing someone else's business. To Weiss, "reality television has blurred the lines between life and entertainment, and no one knows how to be a human unless someone is watching." Read an excerpt below or listen above:

On a cloudy day in Omsk, Russia, Irena Kolokov and her boyfriend Alexy Bykov had plans to go out. But when Irena arrived at the spot they'd arranged for their romantic rendezvous, what she found was far from what she expected. “There were mangled cars everywhere, ambulances, smoke and carnage,” Irena told reporters. As she took in the horror of her surroundings, a paramedic approached her. “Alexey is dead,” he said.

I bet her stomach did that rollercoaster thing that stomachs do when you know that you've done something irrevocably bad, like you left your iPhone in a cab, or you just replied all on an e-mail saying your boss has fat fingers and a bad attitude, or you know, someone you deeply love is laying in a pool of their own blood on the cold, Russian asphalt. Because she's a human with feelings, Irena broke down in tears. And then, like in a dream, or sick f***ing nightmare depending on who you ask, the bloodied and bandaged Alexey Bykov rose from the dead, pulled out a ring and asked the question. THE question. The question that women are told they're waiting for since the moment their mothers shed the afterbirth.“Will You Marry Me?”

Alexey and Irena are just another drop the performed, public marriage proposal bucket, something that has become a full blown trend. It's the new hilarious first-dance, which was the new choreographed bridal party entrance which I guess was the new chocolate fountain, which is never gonna die. Not on my watch. No sir.

I wonder, often, why proposals are still a thing to begin with. You already have sex. You probably live together. Maybe you already have a child. You're not buying a woman from her father, so why bother with marriage at all, let alone proposing marriage, let alone hiring actors, directors, and designers, commissioning local businesses or bussing in a marching band to help you? Our generation seems trapped in a confused mess of tradition and heteronormitivity, and intense need to feel unique and important, and hyper-public, ante-upping showmanship. We've been given the anatomy of romance, from romantic comedies and our parents' photo albums and fairy tales, and Disney's retelling of Fairy Tales. We have all the black lines and we're encouraged to color inside of them, but in a way that lets us feel like we're finger painting on the dining room wall.

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