The proposal

One of the best parts of my job is writing for Wellington Weddings, a magazine dedicated to one of the most significant moments in a couple’s life. It’s a celebration of love. That’s the kind of story I am happy to write. I am a sucker for a good love story.

So imagine my surprise when I turned on the TV and discovered the latest reality horror show, The Proposal. The premise? A man sits hidden behind a panel, disclosed from the flock of desperate women who vie for his affection by answering a myriad of ridiculous questions in hopes that before the show concludes, he will get down on his knee and propose marriage to one of them. A lifetime commitment with a complete stranger in front of a live studio audience. Classy. This is the world we live in.

I tuned in during the bathing suit feature, because of course it had one (it’s 2018 and change happens so slowly). A group of doe-eyed women paraded out in bathing suits, in front of a stranger they couldn’t even see, and pleaded their case for why they would be a good match. A match for what? A pervert? Gosh, there is no way the Carpenter would have married me if he met me in a bathing suit 25 years ago. I looked like a prepubescent boy in a one-piece. Come to think of it, I still do, but only if the prepubescent boy ate a lot of chips and stuffed the back of the bathing suit with bags of sand.

It gets better. Next, the invisible man’s best friend gets to ask these women, now in ball gowns, some deeply intellectual questions designed to help his buddy pick the right girl. My personal favourite was, “What’s your idea of a perfect Sunday morning?” Dude, way to go out on a limb. That’s deep forever stuff. But these women had clever responses. One wanted to go hiking and exercise (yeah, me too, totally). Nobody said anything about coffee or ignoring each other to read the newspaper. Hint: relationship is doomed.

I remember when Sunday mornings with the Carpenter meant sleeping in, snuggled up together, negotiating who would get out of bed to make the pot of coffee. When the kids came along, one of us would literally kick the other out of the bed to insist they make the coffee. Last one up got the kids breakfast. Marriage can be harsh.

After a commercial break came the big reveal: the stage turns and the invisible man behind the screen is identified. Now we get to judge him in his fine suit. We learn his career (confirm he is employed) and one tragic thing about his past (vulnerable is hot) and the fact he has teeth. Sold. (There is no way this guy is going to make coffee on Sundays. Just saying.)

Of course, it’s love at first sight, so the final two women make tearful promises of happy-ever-after to this total stranger. It’s downright embarrassing. Dramatic pause.  Gasp. Now-visible man bends down on one knee and proposes to the girl with the bigger bustline (shocking, I know) and, wait for it, she says yes. Didn’t see that coming. Snort. 

I cannot believe what we define as entertainment these day, but if this is reality, it’s a miracle the Carpenter and I got married at all.

But hey, I proposed to him and he makes the coffee on Sunday mornings. It works.


Kelly Waterhouse