Hi, my name's Anonymous, and I'm about to propose to my girlfriend. We've often talked about getting hitched, so this will hardly come as a surprise. In fact, she's probably wondering when I'll finally pop the question. But I'd still like to make it special somehow. Do you have any wisdom to impart?
Anonymous: Wisdom? I'm full of wisdom. That's what people mean when they say I'm full of it. And here's my first piece of bullsh...of wisdom: Why don't you wait and see if she proposes to you? I'm only quasi-kidding. For far too long, men have had to do all the legwork, getting down on one knee while the woman stands there looking radiant and, in some cases, shell-shocked. Why not even things out a bit? Why not acknowledge that women now have control over their own destinies?
Rock singer and punk-fashion plate Pink proposed to her boyfriend, motocross racer Carey Hart. Beyoncé proposed to Jay-Z. Heck, Britney Spears proposed to Kevin Federline, and look how that turned out. Not that you have to be a rock or pop star to take the upper hand and place a ring on his finger. There's a long tradition of women proposing to men, stretching all the way back to...well, I'm not sure how far it stretches back. Some say to fifth-century Ireland, when Saint Patrick declared Feb. 29 "Saint Brigid's Day."
Saint Brigid's Day was the one day out of the year - uh, make that "quadrennium" - when a lass could propose to a lad. And surely that's what Al Capp was picking up on when he invented Sadie Hawkins Day in his "L'il Abner" comic strip back in the 1930s. On Feb. 29, give or take four years, there would be a foot race in Dogpatch, single women chasing after single men. And basically, if you caught him, you got him. This was such an appealing idea that, 30 years later - and maybe to this day - there was an annual Sadie Hawkins Day on my grade-school playground.
What was so appealing, if you were a guy, was that you were on the receiving end; you got to stand there looking radiant and, in some cases, shell-shocked. And my second piece of wisdom for you, Anonymous (since you're surely not going to take me up on my first), is that you keep firmly in mind what it will be like to be on the receiving end of your proposal. Be aware that virtually everything has been done at one time or another. Men have proposed on the tops of mountains, on the bottoms of the oceans and in zero-gravity, a.k.a. the Vomit Comet.
And then there are all the clichés to avoid. Do not - I repeat, do not - propose to your girlfriend via billboard or, even worse, Jumbotron. In fact, try to leave Major League Baseball - or any scoreboard - out of this. Don't hire a pilot to write "Will You Marry Me?" in the sky. Don't take her to the top of the Empire State Building unless you intend to throw both of you off - in parachutes, of course. Wait, that's probably been done. But maybe if you hired a mariachi band to parachute beside you and play...
See where the desire to make it special can lead you? I'm not saying you should call her up on your cell phone and say "We're getting married, right?" I'm saying it doesn't take much to make it special. Take her somewhere that has meaning for both of you - a favorite restaurant, the place where you met, Paris. Strew some rose petals and/or Hershey kisses around. (Or don't, kind of a cliché.) Then get down on one knee and, in as sincere a voice as possible, deliver a line composed especially for her.
The line is everything, and I can't help you with it, because it has to come straight from your heart. One final piece of wisdom, though: This would be a bad time to suggest a pre-nup.
For what to do if that didn't turn out to be a ring in your glass of champagne, write to: MR. RIGHT, ISTHMUS, 101 KING ST., MADISON, WI 53703. OR CALL 251-1206, EXT. 152. OR EMAIL MRRIGHT@ISTHMUS.COM.