Friday, August 05, 2005

MEN AND THE JUMBOTRON The Wall Street Journal runs a (subscription-only) article titled, "Why Men Turn Marriage Proposals Into Public Events."

Two excerpts:

Two saturdays ago, a scuba diver jumped into a 150,000-gallon fish tank inside the restaurant at Houston's Downtown Aquarium. As curious diners looked on, he swam toward a young couple at a far table, and held up a sign: "Tisha, will you marry me?" The romantic stunt was planned by Kavon Rajabi, the man at the table. He turned to his tearful girlfriend, Tisha Avara, and in the presence of dozens of cheering strangers and 1,000 indifferent fish, slipped an engagement ring on her finger. "I was proud to let everyone know I love this woman," Mr. Rajabi said later. In past generations, "Will you marry me?" was often asked very privately, with the woman on a porch swing and the suitor on bended knee. Now, of course, marriage proposals are routinely delivered publicly and extravagantly. Marriage researchers say the public-proposal phenomenon is being fueled by businesses looking to ratchet up wedding-related billings, by reality TV shows such as TLC's "Perfect Proposal," and by a culture that celebrates attention-seekers. "A wedding is a moment of 'lay celebrity' -- you're the star of your own show -- and now people want to extend that to the proposal," says Elizabeth Freeman, a wedding historian and associate professor at University of California, Davis.


Public proposal prices vary. For $1,850, skywriting pilot Mort Arken will spell out an eight-mile-long proposal over the skies of New York. For under $100, you can just buy two tickets to see Clay Aiken. On the singer's current tour, people can text-message proposals from their cellphones onto giant screens near the stage. (At his show in Buffalo, N.Y., this week, there were several proposals -- but all were for Mr. Aiken.) Witnesses find proposals compelling to watch in part because there's always a possibility of rejection. In February, after a man proposed at an Orlando Magic game, the scoreboard flashed, "She said no," the crowd gasped, and the woman ran off the court. Turned out it was a stunt featuring actors. Fan proposals, which cost $50 to $200, are so routine that the team's marketing office concocted the stunt to generate buzz. In actuality, though, women almost always say yes to public proposals, so they don't embarrass suitors. Only later, privately, will the women back out, wedding planners say.


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