Tip: automatically upgrade a standard nutcase attack into a terrorist nutcase attack by shouting 'Allah' as you commit it. #woolwich 22/5/2013 - 10:14pm
Marriage seems like a very bad idea. It is a self-enforced prison sentence, trapping you in solitary confinement with your chosen partner, where your only chance of parole is a messy divorce or untimely shanking in the showers. Yet millions act upon this bad idea every year, their logical faculties destroyed by promises of life-long love and happiness, delivered mostly in the form of God-awful Hugh Grant romantic comedies. Although I imagine most people watching those films didn't have many logical faculties to start with.
The most excruciating part of the marital process has to be the proposal. I would personally consider this the biggest obstacle to getting married myself, although the bitter, soulless, loveless personality I'm demonstrating right now is a fairly close second. The classic act of proposal involves the love-stricken couple indulging in a candle-lit supper or walk in an autumnal park, whence upon the man suddenly kneels down like a landmine just blew his leg off, all floppy hair and foppish charm, waxes lyrical about love and destiny, and presents to the misty-eyed woman a piece of overpriced and somewhat rudimentary metalwork. Then some nosey losers in the background applaud as she predictably accepts his offer of undying love and the expensive finger-ornament, the two embrace, and that's the end of your shitty Hugh Grant romantic comedy.
The whole scenario is too devastatingly clichéd to be effective in the real world. A proposal needs a spark of originality if you want any hope of your life together not being as predictable as the way it started. One of my friends recounted a proposal in which the would-be bride and groom were grocery shopping in Asda. The guy proposed over the Tannoy system, presumably whilst they were in the cheese aisle. Needless to say, that relationship hardly lasted longer than an Asda Price Guarantee. That's an example of the pendulum swinging too far the other way - you need originality, but you don't want it to be quite so fucking awful.
I was discussing this problem with another friend earlier today. (Yes, I have at least two friends, and I can prove it). Her original idea involved some nonsense about the wedding ring being planted in the sand of a tropical beach, and the groom-to-be arranging an impromptu metal-detecting expedition, retrieving the ring in a romantic act of novice archaeology. This idea might work if you plan to spend most of your married life watching Time Team, or maybe if you're Indiana Jones and you're combining your trite matrimonial advances with a frenzied hunt for cursed Nazi gold. Otherwise, it sucks.
I thought no more of the proposal issue until I encountered this video by chance on the Guardian website. It is by turns both incredibly nauseating and, even I must admit, sickeningly impressive. Only watch it if you're a hopeless romantic or a misanthropic loner with a patent disregard for your own blood pressure and sanity.
Is such flagrant exhibitionism really the best way to kick-start one of the most intimate and personal things you'll ever do? (Or never do in my case). I wouldn't have thought so, but these kind of stunts are depressingly common. Not only is the well of original proposals drying up at an alarming rate, but that guy just set the bar for future endeavours higher than it is at a fat camp's limbo competition. But worry not. I've had some ideas.
Picture the scene. You and your dearly beloved are in a local bank, opening up a joint savings account. This is both financially prudent and strangely arousing for both of you, maybe because your girlfriend is wearing one of those remote-controlled vibrating egg things. Suddenly, your kinky fiscal activities are brought to an abrupt halt by a gang of ski-masked robbers smashing a van into the front of the bank.
"NOBODY FUCKING MOVE," shouts the masked, shotgun-wielding ringleader as he emerges from the crumbling masonry. "THIS IS A ROBBERY!" He turns the gun on you and your loved one. "GET ON THE FUCKING FLOOR!" You stand firm, refusing to yield to his criminal intentions. "GET ON THE FLOOR OR THE FUCKING BITCH GETS IT!" He points the gun at your girlfriend. By now she's probably pretty terrified. You drop to the floor, but it's too late - BANG! - the gun is discharged right in her face.
But the shotgun wasn't loaded with ammunition; it was loaded with a heart-shaped bean bag. Your girlfriend is far from dead (but she probably has a rather nasty bruise on her face). It was all worth it. "Open it," you implore her. Encased within the beanbag is a wedding ring. "Will you?" you ask. She says yes. The people in the bank cheer. The robber reveals himself to be your best mate, Baz, and he looks on contentedly as you kiss passionately.
I think this one is by far my best idea. Not only is it memorable and original, but its highly traumatic nature is likely to inflict deep emotional scars on your fiancée, making her dependent on you for lifelong psychological support. You might have some problems persuading the bank and the police that it's a good idea, but once you do, you're golden.
The traditional Anglican marriage vows have all sorts of off-putting stipulations. For better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health. For every romantic evening spent snuggling on the sofa or walking on the beach, there'll be an afternoon spent sat in a waiting room at the local colonoscopy clinic whilst your spouse's bowels are routinely checked for irregularities. This idea plays on the "sickness" part of the "sickness and health" clause by reminding your lover that, even if the marriage lasts for years, you're both going to end up infirm and incontinent and, at some point, at least one of you will shit the marital bed.
OK, so you're going out for a night of frivolity with the future Mrs You. Steal a convenient moment to swallow the wedding ring you bought from Argos earlier. You'll need it later. When you return, proceed to drink. Drink a lot. Drink like you're listening to a Morrissey song and don't want to be able to hear it any more. Drink Carling if you have to. The objective is to get yourself more trolleyed than a Tesco car park.
Indulge in that sort of behaviour for a few hours and you'll probably be feeling pretty queasy. Your stomach is getting ready to reject all that binge-water, so quickly call a cab and drag your partner home. As soon as you're in the most lavishly-carpeted room in the house, chuck it up. Spew everywhere, over upholstery, over your disgusted spouse, you name it.
When you're confident you've completely emptied yourself, invite her to examine the puddle of puke you just emitted. She might require some gentle physical persuasion at this point. "What's this?" you exclaim with faux-surprise. You know the rest. Wham, bham, will-you-marry-me ma'am. It's the most romantic use of vomit ever conceived, and not only have you successfully charmed the girl of your dreams, but you've also set up some conveniently low expectations for your standards of behaviour during the marriage.
A fear that must plague the mind of even the most cocksure proposer is that of rejection. It is generally expected that a woman being proposed to will swoon lovingly, smile sweetly, and, after a dramatic pause, whisper 'yes' through quivering lips. But they can do other stuff, like say 'no'. Not only will such an outcome not make the best finale to your perfectly-choreographed YouTube debut, it might also shake up your self-esteem a bit, and leave you looking like a complete arse; a hopeless romantic in the literal sense of the phrase.
They say the course of true love never does run smooth. So give it a rocky start with 'The Ultimatum'. The objective here is to contrive a situation in which you can threaten to commit suicide or some equally ghastly act unless your proposal is accepted. Ideal locations which are both romantic and suitable for the suicidally inclined include cliff tops, high suspension bridges and any Tube station which is not on the Northern Line (I don't want your bodged proposal affecting my commute, thanks). What choice does your sweetheart have but to agree? If love is a game then you're simply fixing the outcome.
Hopefully my ideas will provoke a slew of both inspiring and criminal proposal techniques and put an end to all the atrocious romcom clichés which plague the romantic corners of our modern culture. And maybe, one day, when society becomes more tolerant of facial disfiguration and I work out how to sneak rohypnol into an IV drip, I'll get to use one too.
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