Popping the question to a girl is no longer an intimate affair but a spectacle with a big supporting cast and better yet, an audience.
RELIEF. Horror. That’s how two guys, a middle-aged bloke and a teenager of 18, reacted to the news of yet another guy going to elaborate lengths to propose to his lady love.
As reported in The Star last week, 27-year-old assistant manager Joshua Wong got 33 of his friends to dance to a medley of songs at a shopping mall in Petaling Jaya before he popped the question to his girlfriend.
It took Wong some three weeks to plan the gambit and that was after he couldn’t post his proposal on a huge billboard from across her office because of logistical problems.
When I read out the story to the family, the older guy rolled his eyes in disdain. But the relief was obvious. After all, he didn’t have to go through much trouble when he decided to get hitched almost 30 years ago. To me.
In fact, as far as this aunty remembers, he didn’t go through any trouble at all. Not one tiny bit because he never proposed. After dating for several months, he just assumed I would marry him and darn it, he assumed right.
He didn’t even ask my father’s permission to marry me. Thinking back, he really had it easy.
At least I had an engagement party but that was only because my dad insisted on one. And it was kept small and private. We took some photos and that was it.
But with that great game changer of our times, the Internet, the world — to paraphrase Shakespeare — has become one big stage where everyone can be players. All they have to do is load up their act on YouTube.
Without this facility to play to a global audience, such grandstanding proposals, like a lot of other antics and funny stuff, including Gangnam Style, would not have caught on so rapidly. Now it seems a bloke must really go the extra mile to ask for a girl’s hand. A romantic dinner before going down on bended knee is no longer enough. There must be a huge build-up before that ring-in-a-box moment.
What’s more, in those “Best wedding proposal ever” and “Top 10 (or 25) best wedding proposals” videos on YouTube, a key element in making it “best” is that the proposal must be very public, witnessed by a crowd of strangers.
Hence, many proposals involve flash mobs or a captive audience in airplanes, sports stadiums and cinemas to cheer on the guy and clap and whistle when she says yes.
And, by the way, the girls all react in the same way — they shriek, laugh, cry, cover their mouths with their hands and say “Oh my God, Oh my God!”
Oh what pressure! No wonder my husband is relieved he didn’t have to do any of that. But who would have guessed proposals would get so extravagant and ostentatious in such a short time?
Which is why the teenager mentioned at the beginning of this article blanched at the news. He’s thinking, to his horror, he might have to hire a space ship or something equally spectacular when he proposes in say 10 or 15 years’ time. My poor son! Should he start saving up for a proposal for his unknown bride? Should I?
While one part of me thinks such big gestures are sweet, another part finds it somewhat disconcerting.
That’s because Asians, especially the young ones, have cottoned on so fast and morphed from being inscrutable and private to becoming wide open books on their personal lives.
Where once we would be too shy, embarrassed or ashamed to share certain things about our lives, the opposite is now true.
Young people probably see it as their being more open and asserting their right to be seen and heard and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. And by all means have fun and spread the joy around.
But what worries me is the aggressive blare-all attitude that is also becoming prevalent. Many young people seem shockingly unaware of what is nuance, decorum or what constitutes a sense of decency in what they say and do on Facebook and other forms of social media. And that surely is a bad thing.
If we need a lesson on how to share in tasteful and delightful show-and-tell, then I recommend a proposal by a guy called Isaac Lamb to his girlfriend Amy Finkel. It’s done publicly but there are no strangers to witness it. It is touching, clever and funny without being in-your-face or showy for the sake of it.
It’s titled “Best marriage proposal ever?” For this Internet moment, I think so. Photo Booth Rental Rockford.