Can We Just Not ‘Pop The Question’ Anymore, Please?

You may have noticed that videoing yourself popping the question to one’s girlfriend and uploading it to YouTube is apparently all the rage among bros who want to marry ladies these days. As you might imagine, this has led to an increased bit of pressure to come up with new and innovative ways to propose. And, naturally, sometimes these things can go horribly wrong, which reminds me of how I’ve never been able to grasp the thinking behind “popping the question,” but we’ll get to that in a bit. First, a story…

Over the weekend I was riding the St. Charles streetcar, which is one of the more lovely things one can do on a nice weekend afternoon in New Orleans, sitting all the way in the back, where the seats face side-to-side instead of back-to-front. Anyway, sitting across from me was a youngish couple. Sitting on either side of me was a man and a woman, each with travel bags of some sort resting on their laps.

At one point along the ride, we passed this old Victorian mansion that’s a wildly popular place for weddings, and for good reason — the whole scene looks like something off of a postcard. On its lawn, the mansion has one of the of those gazebo things where couples exchange vows and whatnot. It was just as we were approaching this mansion that the male half of the couple sitting across from me turned to his lady and said, “I’ve always imagined myself getting married there. Wouldn’t that be awesome?” To which his lady replied, “Yes, that would be a wonderful place to get married.”

Just then the guy, in retrospect appearing confident he’d just received the green light he’d been hoping for, got up from his seat, pulled a little box out of his pocket, and dropped to one knee. As he was doing so the man and woman who’d been sitting next to me with bags on their laps pulled cameras out of the bags and got up to position themselves so that they’d be able to capture each of the couple’s faces.

Our would-be romantic hero then opened the box, revealing a fairly sizable ring, and popped the question: “Whatshername, will you marry me?” The girl, meanwhile — who at this point had turned whiter than one of Newt Gingrich’s butt cheeks — sat silent, with her hand over her open mouth. Tension filled the air. No one said anything for at least ten seconds, ten seconds that felt longer than Christmas Eve feels to a five year-old. Meanwhile, I’m sitting there in the middle of it just watching sort of spellbound by the theater of it all, but I had a pretty strong feeling about what was going to come next. And then it happened.

“I…just…I just…I’m not ready to make that decision right now. I need some time to think about it.”

She went on: “I’m so flattered by this, Whatshisname, but we never talked about this and this is one of the biggest decisions of my life. I need to think about it, because honestly it’s not something that I’ve given a lot of thought to. I’m so sorry.”

Sullen, shocked, heartbroken, the poor sap who’d made the proposal uttered what may go down as the biggest understatement in world history: “Well, I guess I should have talked to you about this beforehand.”



He went on: “I just thought you were ready and I wanted to surprise you.”

It was at this point that the two people with the cameras, who presumably had been hired by the groom to capture the moment, made some sort of non-verbal communication that led to them agreeing to silently abort the mission and cease filming.

Meanwhile, I’m sitting there across from these two dying — DYING — inside. It was easily one of the more fascinating and horrifying things I’ve ever witnessed. I wanted to both give the potential groom a hug and assure him everything was gonna be alright, but at the same time I wanted to try to hand his girl, an obvious forward-thinker with a good head on her shoulders, a note with my phone number that read, “Give me a call if things don’t work out.”

Which gets me back to “popping the question”…Can we just stop doing this? I’m not talking about stopping doing it to put video of it online, I’m talking about doing it period. When you stop and think about it, isn’t it sort of degrading to a woman to a) force her to make one of the biggest decisions of her life without the benefit of thoughtful reflection, and b) to assume that a woman would be willing to allow herself to be swept up by her emotions and, in doing so, shed all semblance of prudence and good sense in an effort to partake in some bullsh*t fairy tale kind of moment? Isn’t it also maybe a wee bit disrespectful to put that kind of pressure on someone?

Maybe if men stopped “popping the question” we wouldn’t have as many damn divorces as we do. Well, ever thought of THAT?! And don’t even get me started on the antiquated social institution that is marriage itself.

(Pic of the St. Charles streetcar by me)