The average age of an American male at the time of his first marriage hovers around 27; for women, it's 25. And whether ready or not, many people nearing, at, or above these averages feel immense, intense familial and/or societal pressure to, for some reason, get married. Perhaps that pressure is self-imposed, but nonetheless it lingers over nearly all non-married cohabitating couples.
But the matrimonial pressure to suddenly wed, in this slice of the world at least, is dwarfed by the artistic pressure to enter engagement in style. I read a recent study that showed the very first question asked of most newly engaged women is "How'd he do it?," while the first asked of men is "So should I, like, not jerk it to her anymore?" In this life, it's not the engagement that counts, it's the proposal.
Some men hide the ring in a forthcoming dessert dish, or they drop it into a champagne glass. Some lure their future betrothed out of the apartment and have friends and family decorate their shared living space in the couple's absence. I've always been partial to the scavenger hunt full of personal memories and locations around a particular city, as we'll re-visit in a moment.
These thoughtful, if schmaltzy, engagements have become the norm (again, at least in our nape of the geographic neck). And yet I've never quite figured out why more people haven't put this much creativity into breakups. Seriously, how flippin' sweet would it be to apply the same effort and wit into calling off a long relationship as cementing one in holy matrimony? It'll be ever more special if the dumpee doesn't see it coming, expecting a ring instead of heartache.
An example: Take a moment to watch this video. Classic switcheroo.
I have no clue whether or not that's real or fake; but, either way that's not especially germane to the broader argument. The guest's partner at home is expecting the big proposal. The hosts are expecting the big proposal. Everyone else watching is expecting the big proposal. And then, BAM, the big fuck you, a metaphorical Cleveland Steamer right onto her heaving chest. Brilliant.
So why hasn't this practice become a breakup mainstay? People would really rather talk and weep and snot up for three hours, not even really listening to each other? Please, that's awful. I'd think, as heartbroken as the poor unsuspecting dope would be, even they'd have to laugh at this temporary sparkle of genius from their former partner.
Picture it: Significant others head to brunch on a sunny pre-Summer afternoon. One gets up to use the restroom but stealthily leaves to wait at an undisclosed location. The waitron approaches the deserted party with the first clue on a grand scavenger hunt around the city. The impromptu table for one believes the day of engagement hath arrived.
After a six-clue nostalgia parade, the couple is reunited at their favorite spot. Maybe it's under a tree, where they first French kissed (or Freedom kissed, if you're still boycotting the Francs). He's on bended knee, and smiling. And just as he reaches into his pocket, seemingly to fetch a box-encased ring, our man pulls out nothing but his extended middle finger. He stands up slowly and nonchalantly waves it in his significant other's frozen face. As the tears begin to well up, he mouths "It's over," puts his headphones in his ears and walks away whistling. One would have to be stunned, but they'd also have to chuckle.
Or perhaps you can get the Yankee Stadium announcer to project: "Ladies and gentlemen. Please turn your attention to Section 27, as [insert cunning bastard here] has a special message for the person sitting next to him." Fifty-five thousand folks hush and search for you guys; the scoreboard operator puts you on screen. Then when it seems like all eyes are upon you, that's when you spill two $9.75 Miller Lites on her and storm off into the tunnel. Winner.
Message sent. In style.
I'm guessing most of you have indulged this fantasy, so come clean, how would you pull this off? What's your preferred method of calling the whole thing off as wickedly as possible? Spill it.