It happens every year at holiday time. The local newspaper runs a romantic heartwarming story, complete with photos, about a couple getting engaged at the skating rink or in front of the big Christmas tree downtown or some other public spot that looks like a Hollywood cliche. We see a big photo of the couple, often with the woman crying and the man looking smug.
Always, it is the same story, with the same plot. The man decides to propose to his girl. (And yes, I use those words deliberately. Always, the male in the couple is referred to as a man, and the woman is referred to as his girl. And does it go without saying that the couple is never same sex? Have I mentioned how conservative this newspaper is?) We get a whole paragraph about how the man decided he was going to propose, and bought a ring, and how hard he worked to make sure that the girl would be totally surprised.
Uh, totally surprised? Should any woman be surprised into making some kind of major decision like that?
And yet, we get quotes from the woman saying things like, "Oh, I was completely surprised. I had no idea." And the readers sigh at how romantic that is.
Maybe it's me, but I just fail to see the appeal.
I am not against the idea of marriage. I have been known to enthusiastically congratulate two people who talk over the idea of marriage and make a mutual decision to make a commitment to each other.
But that is never how the romantic newspaper story reads. No. The man decides he wants to marry the woman, and he asks her to marry him. And he makes sure he does it in a big public way. So she is completely surprised when he asks her, and she has to give her answer in front of a crowd of people, including a newspaper photographer.
That story does not make me smile. It makes me want to scream.