Chapter 4 Taking the bait
By Chris Wilson
Sue is getting impatient; it is now six years down the line, and Bob has failed to make a deeper commitment. What is she to do? As it happens there is nothing she needs to do and, deep down, she knows it. Deep inside as in reality everything is going to plan, and she has already made appropriate preparations for what is to come, it’s just that Bob, being a little bit dim, and being a man has failed to read the signals.
She has casually walked him past jewellery shops, especially where engagement and wedding rings are on display. She has guided him through the home furnishing section of their local superstore, and even accidentally left holiday brochures on his coffee table. As regards how much she has given of herself, well, she has given enough to get him within her landing net but, very wisely, not everything that he desires. She has actually surrendered her virginity, that went a long while ago, but what they do and when they do it is still very much under her control. Now they have had a good sex life, but in her mind it took a little too long to get him trained. To her surprise he had been a real novice when he began, despite sewing the odd wild oat or two, but now fully trained by Sue, and led to believe that their relationship is under his full control, he is both behaving, and performing, very well indeed. All she needs now is for him to make the final move. The next leap year is three years ago and, anyway, as far as she is concerned it is Bob who should be down on his knees. She will be the one who will remain in control. Now it is time to leave Sue, for Bob has just entered the room. How is soon to be bridegroom faring these days
Six years is a long time for someone of his age, and now we see a very different guy indeed. Then a boy but now a man, Bob looks forward to a future that seems both secure and entirely satisfactory. Both he and Sue have survived their teenage apprenticeship, and, overall, have come through unscathed. Of course they went through the various stages of physical and substance experimentation, and yes, they have both looked back at the curious animals that once they were, but now such turbulence is behind them, and a brighter future is beginning to dawn. Feeling very adult and mature, he now looks at Sue with pride and security. She is clearly in love with him, as he is with her, but now sensing that she needs his protection and support, as well as his wisdom, he now looks at her in a very different way. He is not too sure of one thing though, does she want to take their relationship any further at this time. He thinks she may have been dropping one or two messages, and he knows, to his satisfaction, that as regard intimacy, things are fine. He has trained her well you see, he knows that, in that area, as in most areas, she is his to command. Now, he feels it is time to take things further; it is time to make a move.
Some might call it madness, others might call it heaven sent joy, but the accepted term for what is to follows is called getting engaged. What a simple little word this seems, just like the word marriage that follows soon after, and conceptually what a wonderful notions both of them seem. The actual marriage day will be looked at in the next chapter so let us look at what happens during an engagement year, and let’s see how men actually prepare for and then make their formal proposal.
The first thing that happens is that after having secretly and carefully selected an engagement ring from an online or high street jewellers, the man chooses a suitable location where he might pop the all important question. Such a venue varies considerably depending on personal choice or preference, but once there he generally gets down on one knee and, heart in his mouth, he asks her to marry him. She, of course, knows nothing of his intentions, so when adjusts his posture she, quite naturally, wonders what is going on. What a shock then when he produces the ring, and what a surprise when he asks her to marry him; oh dear what is a poor girl to do. Say yes, say no, or put him on hold, just like Sue has just done.
Yes, that’s right Bob has finally popped the question, so why is Sue keeping him waiting, why is she being been so cruel? Well, why not, it is her prerogative to say yes or no, and to decide where and when a final answer should be given? He has kept her waiting for at least six months so now it is his turn to wait and see. She explains that she has to think about the offer very carefully, and go home and speak to mother. Then she smiles and plays her ace in the pack she has been holding ready and waiting in reserve.
“I need to think about it; but I’ll keep the ring for safekeeping. I’ll let you know for definite in about six months time!”
Thus the evening ends with a closed front door and Bob standing outside wondering what to do, as so many other evenings have done in the past and as many will do in the future. Sue has got Bob exactly where she wants him, i.e. madly in love, yet on his knees and helplessly under her command. Such a response comes as a shock to Bob, as he was so sure of his ground when he knelt down to propose, but then having just reverted, in part, to his caveman days, he knows very little about a woman’s mind. Even before this he was a little thick as regards such an area; sorry guys, most of us are; but having metaphorically presented her with his wild boar or hunting trophy of old, he scarcely expected her to potentially turn him away. Even worse she has taken the ring, but the question of acceptance still remains. So it is that the evening ends with apparently nothing resolved. Bob leaves confused, bereft of ring, and hopelessly, bewildered; with his tail firmly between his legs, but what of Sue, how is she feeling as she enters her old family home. Does she need to speak to mother, and is her mind a maelstrom of confusion and pain?
Not a chance, unless she needs to ask where the wedding catalogues have been stored away. Quite frankly she has never been more certain, nor any happier than at this moment in time. Bob is safely in her keep net, she is paying him back for six months of unnecessary delays, and finally the plan she and her mother have been working on for so long, has at last come to fruition. Unbeknown to Bob the two women have planned the recent events for months now, including, of course, the choice of ring and proposal venue. That’s what women do best, they both agree, after all men can be so dense at times. So it is the front door closes and Sue, seeing her Mother standing there with a chilled bottle of champagne and two crystal glasses, just smiles. Her mum lifts up the bottle and the glasses.
“ Well, has he asked?”
Sue smiles once more, and lifts her now bejewelled right index finger. It is strange, the ring fits exactly to size; but then it would do, Sue has had her ring size measured a long time ago Her Mother grins and inspects the ring closely. She is no fool when it comes to jewellery, and she wants to make sure that Bob is the man he claims to be. She nods, and kisses Sue gently. The job is done; the dice have been rolled; now it is time to plan. Meanwhile the last participant in out little play walk in. It’s Sue’s father, how is he feeling about the news. Quite simply he is experiencing a mixture of emotions. Part of him rejoices in the fact that his daughter will soon be off his hands, another part laughs within as he now he isn’t the only one that has been sucked into marriage, but as he laughs inside he also feels a little nauseous. One glance at the two women confirms his worst fears. He will have no say in how the wedding day will be arranged but he is going to have to foot the bill, and he knows that such a bill will be huge. For a second he wildly thinks he might persuade Bob’s dad to possibly share the load, but looking at Sue and her mother, even that faint hope fades into thin air. He looks at the champagne and the glasses, and then slowly moves away. His drink, and his life, now lies in his study, he knows has no role other than enjoying the show and then paying the bill.
Six months have passed, and God bless his little cotton socks, Bob is now a little impatient and annoyed. It is perfectly obvious to both of them that they will get married, that was agreed privately a couple of months ago, but now he wants to make it official, as far as he is concerned it’s time for her parents to be involved. He thinks they know nothing, and being the decent chap that he his, he knows that this is wrong. He knows however that he must first ask her father’s permission to go forward, Sue has told him that already, so by mutual agreement a time is set for Bob to come round to her home so that such formalities can occur. Sue hasn’t quite finished yet though. Vindictively she cancels the visit at the last minute, so that Bob must speak to her father over the phone. This is cruel thing to do at any time, but Sue has gone even further. There is a main phone in the house in the hallway, but at the top of the hallway stairs lays another phone, so what does our most gracious lady do. She has her father down stairs on one phone, and her mother upstairs in the other, meanwhile she is quietly listening in on a third cordless extension that her parents have discreetly arranged.
So it is that Bob phones up. He is a little nervous, but Sue reassures him, and tells him to wait while she gets her father. He has of course has been listening all the time, and therefore he is a willing participant in the game. As such he has rehearsed his lines very carefully indeed. He comes across as the stern father, and grills Bob beautifully about his intentions, his career prospects, and his aptitude and ability to be a father of a child. Bob holds his own, briefly, but then, as if by sheer accident, Sue’s mother chips in, seemingly worried by what she hears. Sue is a delicate child, she tells Bob, she is fragile and being a caring mother, she does not want to see her only child hurt at all. This goes on for a good few minutes, and soon Bob has no idea what he should be saying, who he is talking to, and what the true response actually will be. Meanwhile where is Sue? She is sitting on the stairs, silently shaking with suppressed laughter, and controlling the evening’s operations with a skill and verve that would have won her the any battle in any war.
Her parents, thoroughly enjoying the entertainment, watch her with care and, after following her every cue, off course say yes and invite Bob round for an impromptu bite to eat and a celebratory glass of wine. Bob accepts, saying that, luckily, he is only ten minutes away by car, as if Sue and her family didn’t know, and soon they hear a discreet but reasonably confident knock on the door. So much for an impromptu snack!A full champagne buffet awaits him on arrival and by its side a smiling Sue and her two laid back and happy parents. Bob stops for a moment, finally realising just how well he has been tricked by all three concerned, but now at least the worst is over and, after a long slow hard look at his now fiancée, he walks forward into what he believes will be an easy and happy preparative year to come.
Bob is like most men; he simply doesn’t know what is about to hit him. To him it is all so simple, and after an evening of genuine conviviality, he says so, to all who are assembled before him. Sue and himself want to get married so why not book the church, get tidied up, have a bit of a shindig, then get away from everybody as fast as they can so they can start a new life all by themselves. Her father actually agrees with him, but for some unknown reason, he falls to the ground, laughing and crying with joy. He points a tremulous finger at Sue and her mother who now silently, sit looking towards Bob. They just look at him, and then they begin to explain.
First they hand him the wedding dress, shoe styles and dress code brochures. Then come the Caribbean honeymoon suite and hotel, the catering estimates, and pictures of where the wedding breakfast and buffet will be held. Then he is informed, quite gently to begin with, that contrary to what he might believe a girls wedding is all a question of style. He will of course be thoroughly involved in the preparations, after all he has to actually be there on the day, but beyond such minor technicalities he has one role and one role only. He will be Sue’s consort during this time, and there is nothing more that needs to be said as far as anything else is concerned. Off course he will be allowed to have his say on wedding dresses, and of course catering arrangements will be discussed with him. If he wants to be involved he only has too ask, but in the meantime, don’t worry, everything will sorted in time.
So it is that the order and pattern for the engagement year is inevitably set in stone. Bob is a little annoyed at first, and, just for once, he let’s Sue know how he feels once they are alone, but Sue has been ready for such annoyance for months, and soon placates him by pointing out that by arranging things this way he really has very little to do. This is actually true and, on the whole, the marriage preparations go according to plan. Bob is dragged around everywhere, technically asked about everything, but as ever happens he knows nothing about anything at all. The best man is also told nothing, as custom often dictates, and for a couple of days Bob and Sue adopt Christianity so as to keep Sue’s local vicar in tow. Bob’s parents of course are also on the scene but apart from a slight degree of power play between the prospective mother in laws, little else occurs. Bobs parents are just thanking God that Sues Dad is picking up the bill; and secretly they have wanted to see the couple married for over a year.
This then is what we laughingly term the engagement year. Steeped in years of tradition and etiquette it might be assumed that, once endured, the job is done and that such rituals will mark the end of all formalities before the couple’s new life has become. Only a fool believes that though, for the marriage day itself is yet to come. That oh so glorious day that all married couples fondly look back on over the years that soon fly by. Pull on the church bells; throw around the rice or confetti, and, guys, run as fast as you can. That happy day is here, and it is just waiting to be enjoyed.