David Moseley

Chaps, this is how you propose

2012-01-04 07:30

I was dismayed early last year when Robyn’s chums told us how they’d taken their respective fellas to jewellery stores to pick out favoured styles for potential engagement rings. They gushed about how they sampled different designs in front of their soon-to-be fiancés, and spoke, post-engagement, about how they just knew that a proposal was soon to follow now that they’d picked their perfect ring. 

It was all wrong, all so terribly perfunctory and far from the fairytale romances I thought all girls dreamed of. These ladies knew which engagement rings they would be getting, and worse still, they’d practically pinpointed the date it would occur.

With these dreary tales of expected engagements highlighting how robotic relationships can become, I declared to myself that no such grim and uninspired fate would befall the lovely Robyn.


Plotting a surprise and seemingly sudden engagement requires a fair amount of secretive planning. You can trust no one. Not your parents, not your best friends, not even yourself. To achieve maximum astonishment and a shell-shocked look of disbelief from your target you need to talk down future wedded-bliss at every opportunity – but it’s a fine line. Disparage too much and you’ll be shown the door.

Damning outbursts of “fools, the lot of them” when your males friends start dropping on one knee are entirely acceptable, but only when followed up with subtle hints of dreamy married life to come, like “wouldn’t it be great if we had boys, so we can send them to that fine institution, Wynberg Boys’ High”.

This should keep your future wife in the corridor of uncertainty, somewhere between excited and utterly perplexed, unsure of whether to play a shot or leave the ball alone. Around six months of subterfuge should do the trick. Any longer and a resounding “NO” would be the most likely response to your bolt-from-the-blue proposal.

Naturally, any sort of sudden engagement requires the utmost confidence from the asker that the fiancée-to-be and, indeed, the father-in-law-to-be will agree to the proposal. Asking the old man for permission, by all accounts, is a nerve-wracking experience, but when you’re asking him, and intending to ask his daughter the very next day, you better hope you’ve played all your cards right during the preceding three years.

Normally Pete, Robyn’s dad, is busy with some handyman repair work whenever we visit over the festive season. I’d banked on being roped into some paint-can holding or electrical-chord unravelling (my handyman skills being so insufficient that any actual handymanning is left to the pro) where I could pounce in private and ask my question.

For the first time in three years, though, the intuitive bugger just wanted to sit in the lounge and watch cricket. When I suggested we do something together, like re-tile the roof, he knowingly asked if I was feeling ill. By the end of the weekend, with Engagement Day less than 48-hours away, I was forced to hi-jack Pete in his car and pop the question as he pulled into the garage. Needless to say, he now needs to spring for a new garage door as well as a wedding.

Surprise, Surprise

Robyn (after the affirmative from Pete, of course) was a far easier – or more gullible, I should say – proposition. I’d booked us into a game lodge in Kenton, under the guise of visiting a friend in the area. Having secretly packed for the two of us, we arrived at the lodge with a yet-to-be astonished Robyn asking “does your friend live in the lodge?” No, you dork, this your ‘Christmas present’.

A torturous, four-hour long game drive later, where the helpful game ranger described in great detail every blade of grass, insect and buck poop on the property, we made it to a stunning lookout deck, aptly named the Eagle’s Nest, overlooking the Bushman’s River where elephant and rhino frolicked below.

With a Monty Pythonesque wink and a nudge, the ranger disappeared to his car and I asked Robs, a lover of presents if ever there was one, if she’d like to see another early Christmas present I’d brought along (know you’re quarry, gents. I knew Robyn would never make it to Christmas before asking for her pressie).

Close your eyes, I said, while I fumbled for the damned ring that had given me more sleepless nights and horrific visions than Frodo ever had to endure, and now open them...

“Yes, yes, yes” was her immediate response, before I calmly interjected that I hadn’t actually asked her anything yet...

The ranger reappeared with a bottle of bubbly, the elephants trumpeted down below, and the sun dipped behind the hills, allowing for the river to appear as golden as the ring on Robyn’s finger and the smile on her face.

That’s how you propose, gents.
Follow @david_moseley on Twitter.

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