Weddings I - Noble Begging

[from the vault]

the Hyperion Chronicles
“Mawage! Mawage is wot bwings us togeder tooday”

#115 Weddings I: Noble Begging

Last year I was involved in a wedding, and I meant to write a big three-part series on it, but I was so traumatized I put it off as long as possible. Well, up here in my undisclosed Witness Protection Program hiding spot, I made friends with Ajax and Elsa, who are getting married this Saturday. So, in honor of them, and because I don’t have any money for a present, I’m going to be talking weddings, weddings, and more weddings. Part I is on the Proposal.

In many countries, the parents of the prospective bride and groom meet and discuss a price. Interestingly, in Africa, the bride’s family is given payment (like, say 40 cows), as they are giving away a valuable commodity. In the rest of the world, though, the groom or his family is paid to marry the girl, as if the bride were a liability being taken off the father’s hands. In both cases the women are considered property, and the responsibility and ownership (in legal terms) is switched from the father to the husband. The Western World is of course, more enlightened (if you can call a six-tiered wedding cake enlightened).

Over here, it happens much differently. The guy and girl meet, break up because he gets drunk and talks to Mandy Lodowski at that party, tearfully get back together, break up again, get back together, fall in love, and so on. At some point they both realize that each other is the best they can do. Usually the girl decides well before the guy that they are going to get married. Often this is before the girl has even met the guy; although to be honest, no matter when the girl decides, it would be before the guy since most guys generally don’t know they want to get married until about three months after the wedding.

Anyway, when the girl decides she wants to get married, sometimes she just tells the guy: “Yo, Earl, we’re gettin’ hitched!” Often, though, she is prohibited by TRADITION. If you don’t understand tradition, let me try to explain it: Oh, whom am I kidding? Tradition makes no sense to any rational person. But we’re dealing with women.

Tradition is a weird thing, and weddings have some of the weirdest traditions of all. For example, in the old days, a marriage was not legal until it was consummated (it’s still that way in many countries), and after the wedding the families would stand outside the room and heckle the couple until the deed was done, and often demand to see the sheets as proof. Graphic, I know, but you need to know this history to understand all the rigmarole that has been passed down to today’s weddings. And, it may make it easier to deal with your yammering in-laws: at least they’re not that bad…I hope.

Anyway, Tradition dictates that the guy asks the girl. You would think that the new “liberated” woman would want to do away with that. You’d also think Beef Jerky would be the national food, but in both cases you’d be wrong. I’ve asked hundreds of women what they want or wanted in a proposal, and I’ve found that even the most liberal ultra-feminists usually want at least two of three things. They want the bended knee, the father’s blessing, and the rock.

Let’s talk about the kneeling first. I mentioned this to my friends Bear and Mandela once, and how I found it strange. Obviously it’s left over from some tradition (that word again!), but I venture to say no one remembers why, and it seems antiquated now. Bear said that women liked it because it put men in a subservient position, one they should get used to once they got married. Mandela topped him by naming the whole procedure Noble Begging. If that ain’t the truth. (And all the married men said “Amen!”)

The Knee is romantic, but I’ve found far more women want their father to be asked first. Not necessarily for permission, but for tradition (I told you that word keeps coming up). Some girls said they wanted it to respect their father, but most I think liked the idea themselves. I don’t know if it’s society, or genetics, or their friends or Modern Bride magazine, but many women have this idea of the perfect proposal, the perfect wedding, the perfect honeymoon; and they want reality to match their dreams.

Maybe I’m sounding unfair to women, but let’s be honest, people: if it were up to most guys, eloping would be more than fine. If a guy really wants to do up everything to the nines, the odds are he’s marrying Jack, not Jill. For most weddings, it’s you gals who drive things.

This brings me to the third thing most girls want, the one that makes the least amount of sense: the ring. For the life of me, I don’t understand this. I mean; it would make more economic sense to put money down on a new home or a piece of property or Action Comics #1 (the first appearance of Superman). It would be easy to say women are just materialistic, but I think there is more to it than that.

The engagement ring shows the world she has been chosen. Like my friend Sunshine explained to me once, “Girls want the rock so they can show their friends.” This is certainly true. I just asked my mother today, and she was telling me how after she got her ring she couldn’t wait to “accidentally” show all the other girls at work.

Ajax told me the other night that a girl sees the size of the ring as an estimation of her worth in her man’s eyes. I can’t prove this, and I’m sure many women will be happy to write and tell me to get bent, but it makes sense. We do judge ourselves by what we’re worth to others, and a bigger ring might make many women feel more valuable and wanted.

One other thing the size of the ring may indicate, and that’s how much trouble a guy went to get it. If he had to scrimp and save, that shows how much he cares about the girl. This leads us right into the proposals themselves. To many girls, any proposal is a good proposal, but I think the majority of them hope for something romantic. If for nothing else, it makes a great story to tell their friends, children, and anyone who will listen. Girls love a guy who will go to a lot of trouble for them.

This doesn’t mean that girls want to be proposed to on the Jumbo-Tron at the Yankees game. Most girls don’t want to be embarrassed like that, although a good number do like the proposal to happen in public, for the attention and to make their moment special. My advice is to make damn sure you know the answer before asking in front of a crowd of people.

I do agree that a good proposal can make a wonderful memory. I had one relative who opened a huge present at Christmas, only to have a smaller present inside, and a smaller in that, and smaller and smaller until she got down to the ring box. I had another friend propose in a hot air balloon. I suppose if she had said no he could have pushed her out.

My own father snuck the ring into a bowl of ice cream while distracting my mother (although she wasn’t my mother at the time, so don’t write me, Grandma). I had another friend who dressed up like a waiter and presented the ring on a platter of food. The best I’ve heard may be my friend who proposed on Valentine’s Day. He blew up 258 balloons and put them in a room, with the ring box in one of them. When his girlfriend came in he told her that her Valentine’s present was in one of the balloons, and gave her a pin to pop them. Eventually she got to the right one, and looked up to see my friend on his knees; nobly begging. Sniff Sniff. I think I’d marry him if he did that for me (but only if he told me how he got the box in the balloon).

Well, that’s it for Part I. Tune in next time when we’ll talk about the preparations that go into pulling off a wedding and ask the important question: Who in their right mind would pay $5000 for flowers?

A Bachelor ‘till the Rapture,

April 22, 2003

Thanks to Bear and Mandela
Thanks to Sunshine
Thanks to
Ajax and Elsa, for getting married and giving me a reason to write
Thanks to dad for proposing to mom, so they could have me
Thanks to mom, for accepting
Thanks to all my friends and relatives for their great proposal stories
Thanks to Tootise for editing this into something readable

1 comment:

Evil Twin's Wife said...

This is really funny. I must be in the extreme minority of women. I looked at the Evil Twin one day and said, "Hey, let's get married." And he said, "Okay." and that was that.

We went ring shopping and I picked what I liked. (I still love it!). Then, I planned a simple affair. It's been 15 years!