Mantalk; My proposal to men: Don’t dare ask her to marry you in public

Don’t dare ask her to marry you in public. Photo | Photosearch

What you need to know:

See, when you put someone on trial, the question you are asking is not just: “Will you marry me?”; but also “Will you refuse to marry me in front of all these strangers?”

Unless you are a 2015 KCSE student, really, you have no business engaging in a public marriage proposal.

Look, gents, I know copious-bordering-on-illegal amounts of Love Islandhas got you thinking of popping the question, but have you stopped to ask why love is an island? Here’s a hint—because everyone wants it private! Or at least not easily accessible.

I don’t know about you, but for all the girls I thought I’d marry, none of them wanted a public proposal. “Usiniaibishe” ranked high among their reasons, as well as, “I’m seeing someone else,” or “Haiya, kwani you were serious?” That last one probably did me in because as you may know by now, I am sceptical about love in Nairobi. Nairobi is for business, memes, and whistling stars. In fact, if you do not trend in Nairobi at least once in your life, you are the problem. I digress.

Honestly, ladies, I understand J.Lo said ‘love don’t cost a thing’ but if you said yes to your man who proposed at National Archives, in front of that snaking Super Metro matatu line, then you my dear are part of the problem we need to rid of this country. There is no end to public spaces being hijacked by teary men on bended knees. What is also true is that it’s weird, and methinks it should be illegal. Now the rest of us hapless Kenyan citizens going about looking for tax have to bear witness to this crime of passion, all because you wanted to profess your love publicly?

Why the need for observers at all? Does anyone really crave such a public proposal—if only for the car crash element that gets you thinking why would these two people sadly marry each other? I use the word sadly because most people marrying have drunk the Kool-Aid that marriage is for life, despite the statistics.

Intimate moments used to be just that—intimate. Now, unless you shout your love from the rooftop of the highest mountain, you may as well not bother. While a public declaration of your love might seem like peak romance, heaven knows this is a form of emotional blackmail. This is fishbowl pressure at its finest—it's the ultimate way to manipulate someone into saying 'yes'. Cute this is not.

What if—plus Jesus minus Satan—it doesn’t work out down the line? Do you know how awkward it will be for us sons of the soil who meet our significant others in the streets? You have already poisoned the well with your public shenanigans and expectations have been set. What will the next man do? Probably hand her the moon? John the Baptist’s head on a silver platter? Both?

In the spirit of full disclosure, I’ll be honest: I love to watch public proposals. I love it when I see a man go down on one knee, and the proposal goes wrong or they are rejected (because I’m bitter ha ha). My mouth thirsts for that unmistakable quench of defeat. And when the lady runs away, not out of excitement, but because this poor sod can’t read the room, I shriek in excitement and die a little inside, la petite mort they call it. Look, when the moon is shining the cripples are hungry for a walk. 

Whenever I come across a couple making a public proposal, I am tempted to approach one of them, look them in the eye and scream "You two-timing bastard! You told me you loved me! It should've been me! It should've been me! It should've"

Public marriage proposals are nothing but showmanship, jerking off to public adulation, a theatrical stunt meant to jumpstart your ego with the extravagant flourish of a showboating matador in front of a baying crowd. It’s a show for others, to hopefully record them and make them go viral. It’s living Reality TV in real time; we do not see ourselves; we only see other people seeing us, and something doesn’t exist unless it’s public. It’s not about our partners seeing us, it’s about being seen by other people. 

In a world where everything is content, we, especially men have upped the ante, trying to outdo the other, and see who has more piss in their bladder. Whatever happened to intimate moments? Now I have become a captive albeit willing audience to many public marriages /families, having a stake and keeping up with the Mwangis/Otienos/Loloitoptips.

Unless you are Romeo (and her government-issued ID reads Juliet), Idris Elba, or can create an official office for your wife, pardon, or spouse—you have no business going public. Kenyan men used to be secretive, so secretive that some of them worked for the CIA (I swear). I know of a man who worked in the Salvation Army but only went to church during Christmas. When quizzed, he replied that he was in the Secret Service! That’s how good we had it. Now we have no secrets. No private moments. Everything is broadcast for all and sundry, everyone and their grandmother have an opinion about your relationship.

This is nothing new, however. Even in the jungle, it is common for males to woo females in elaborate ways. Peacocks have their elaborate tails, deer engage in antler-to-antler combat, penguins fight to the death for a lover...maybe not be like penguins? Admittedly, men are thinking, rational creatures (with the possible exception of those who take chapati with fish). I do see the thinking for showy proposals though. It’s memorable. Risking public rejection shows your level of commitment. It’s ‘romantic’. Yiddy yadda. But a showy proposal is one thing. A showy public proposal is something else. In front of your family and close friends, it is one thing. But in front of hundreds of angry uninterested Kenyans? It becomes something sinister.

See, when you put someone on trial, the question you are asking is not just: “Will you marry me?”; but also “Will you refuse to marry me in front of all these strangers?”


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