Not long ago, I scribbled something on these hallowed pages about how, far from being a romantic gesture, asking your girlfriend to marry you in public, is actually a heavy-handed emotional manipulation.
Well, guess what happened to me last night? No - nobody asked me to marry them, thank heavens. What did occur, though, was that a bloke - let’s call him Juan - approached me during a packed pub quiz to ask if I’d propose to his girlfriend (on his behalf, obviously) over the microphone. Oh, God, what a dilemma. No-one wants to be a party-pooper but, at the same time, the idea of putting some poor woman on the spot was complete anathema to me.
In the end, after much frantic internal debate, I resolved to do the dirty deed but without drawing direct attention to where the couple were sitting so that she could leg it with the minimum of fuss if she decided she didn’t want to spend the rest of her days with an emotional blackmailer. (I’m being harsh, I know, but the whole shebang had me in quite a spin.)
The big moment arrived.
“And now, before the quiz results, a message from Juan to María... Will you marry me?”
A collective gasp. Everyone stared at María. People climbed on stools to get a glimpse of the poor woman as she hesitated for what felt like an eternity. Everybody glanced nervously at each other, then at her, then at Juan and then at me as if it were all my fault. She blinked nervously and her lips parted as she prepared to respond. The whole room held its breath.
“Sí! Sí! I’ll marry you!!”
Thank God for that. The place erupted as total strangers embraced in disproportionate joy. Meanwhile, everyone completely ignored me as I tried in vain to announce the winners of the quiz, including the winners of the quiz.
Two hours later, the crowds had dispersed and I spied the happy couple taking their leave of the premises.
Hang on a minute - were they arguing? Oh, no. Oh, dear - her mascara was smudged and she was jabbing an accusing finger at his chest and he was doing that gurning thing that men do when they don’t want to show their anger in public. And that was the last I saw of them. I really hope that it was a tiff about the possible colours of the best man’s tie but, sadly, it looked a lot more serious than that.
An eventful evening all round, then, which, in the end, did nothing to shift my long-held opinion that if you’re going to propose to your girlfriend, it’s best to do it in private, on the sofa, munching on a take-away while the adverts are on.
Studies show that marriages based on this style of proposal last a damn sight longer than any other. Well, possibly.