Today, my co-worker asked me when my boyfriend was going to propose to me. He asks me this question at every opportunity, which is at least twice a week. It wouldn’t be so strange if he were 60 years old, a woman, and my mother… but he’s not. He is a 22 year old man who grew up in a bubble community on the West Coast. I haven’t ever given him any indication that a proposal was on the horizon, the question just popped out of his mouth one day, right after he invited me to go to his church’s social meeting that evening.
Hi there, I’d like to sign up my co-worker for your services…
Nope, she doesn’t know anything about it yet, it’s a surprise!
When he isn’t after me about marriage, he pushes his fundy ideas on me; specifically, his belief that the Mayan calendar is right in line with the prophesized biblical rapture and that the End of Days is upon us. Whenever he brings it up, I try to skate around it but sometimes my better judgement gets the best of me and I say something. Once, I said, “You know, all that proverbial rapture and doomsday stuff has been foretold for hundreds of years and has never actually amounted to anything.” When that didn’t seem to have any impact, I said, in my calmest most reasonable tone, that many different people and books and groups have predicted the apocalypse, in their own unique way… it is sort of a right of passage for any group that is set on manipulating people by striking fear in their hearts. It’s just a control tactic. Believe it or not, fear is a good motivator.
(Don’t forget to liquidate your assets and donate the $$ to our cause!)
I told him to try not to worry about it, the rapture isn’t coming any time soon. His exact wide-eyed response was, “You never know.” I hope he doesn’t let this stuff keep him up at night. Every time I walk past his cubicle I notice some article prophesizing the doom of humanity on his monitor. That’s your typical government worker for you, researching ways to repent before the apocalypse kills us all instead of getting work done. I’m not checking up on him or anything, I’m just a little worried about the guy. He seems to be overly pre-occupied with other people’s marital statuses and their impending doom.
Since then, when he asks me when my boyfriend is going to propose, he says it with a wink and a titter, as if we are sharing an inside joke. Sometimes, he even hints at the fact that I shouldn’t wait too long to get married or else I might turn into an old maid. I must say, maintaining my composure at these times is tough. He is the epitome of the hetero-normative-paradigm-toting person, who happily assumes that everyone in the world subscribes to the exact same beliefs that he does, without bothering to ask them first. He seems to be completely ignorant to the fact that his questions to me are spawned from his indoctrinated view of the female “I just want to get married and have babies!” stereotype.
Today, I had finally had enough. It isn’t my job to teach others how not to be close-minded sheep people, but sometimes a situation falls in my lap like a rancid apple pie that has sat on the windowsill for weeks and is now too fetid to ignore. This was one of those times. After he gave me the typical knowing smile and told me that it was “about time I was engaged” I explained to him in my “I know this may be hard for you to take in all at once, in fact your head might explode” voice that I was not a big fan of the institution of marriage, I wasn’t Christian, and didn’t need to have my relationship validated in the face, or any other body part, of a God. And (you might want to sit down for this one) many people, in fact over 34 million people just in the U.S., aren’t big subscribers of organized religion either. I explained that, “For a long time, marriage looked something like a subservient woman getting traded to a domineering man in exchange for goods to her family. That’s right, women were considered chattel and religious institutions helped to develop and spread this oppressive practice for a long, long time. Actually, this practice still goes on in some places around the world, have you ever heard of child brides?”
“So, to answer your question, I feel no deep hungering compulsion to get engaged anytime soon… in fact I may never marry my boyfriend; we may just live together and love each other and raise children together, and maybe the children will even take my last name. But if my boyfriend ever does propose, don’t worry, YOU will be the FIRST person to find out.” I kind of liked the way his eyes bugged out of his head. It made me feel like I am doing my part to rid humanity of its chronic ‘sincere ignorance’ infection. I think tomorrow we'll tackle global warming.