Mississauga Life — Early Spring 2015
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The Big Question(s)
Carly Heffernan


The post-proposal interrogation begins.

We get asked a lot of questions in life. How was your weekend? Do you want fries with that? Why did you wear a Speedo to my bat mitzvah? But there’s one question that’s bigger than the rest, which is why they call it The Big Question. Not long ago, I was asked The Big Question. And not long ago, I responded favourably to The Big Question. That’s right, folks: I got engaged!

Before you extend your congratulations, let me tell you that it’s not all champagne and rose petals. It’s actually exhausting. The thing that no one tells you about popping the question is that postpopping, an endless parade of other questions will also be popped.

“How did he do it?” I’ve been asked this question about a gazillion times. (That’s a conservative estimate.) I’m not a fan of this question. Not because I experienced a lacklustre proposal in an Arby’s or after drunk karaoke; in fact, I had a lovely proposal. There were flowers and candles and John Williams music, and he even got down on one knee!

However, I could have been proposed to on a unicorn flying over Paris while Aerosmith serenaded us from a cloud and I still wouldn’t want to repeat it a bazillion times. It was a private moment and that’s how we wanted to keep it. If we hadn’t, we would have performed an elaborate flash mob proposal in neon body suits, filmed it on our smartphones and posted it on YouTube.

I’ve tried to get away with simply stating, “It was lovely,” but detail is currency these days and I’ve been forced to pay up. At this point I tell the story like a community theatre actor who’s been performing the same Noël Coward role every summer for 30 years. I know the lines but my heart’s not in it anymore, and then we’re on to question two.

It’s actually less of a question and more of a terrifying shriek: “Can I see the ring?!” Again, I’m not a fan of this ask. Not because I got a cubic zirconia out of a gum ball machine or something, but because it’s uncomfortable. Who does that? Who shows off jewellery, besides The Real Housewives of Vancouver? For me, presenting one’s hand so everyone can admire (and let’s be real, judge) some symbolic trinket feels way too 1800s. Of course the ring and the proposal are all questions of the past; the really wonderful questions are about the future.

“Engaged” is just a synonym for “a wedding waiting to happen.” Once you’ve been lovingly slapped with the label you’re also supposed to know every detail about the big day itself. People want to know when, where, and who’s invited. They want to know what kind of dress you want and how many bridesmaids you’ll have. They want to know about flowers and music and what sex positions you’ll employ for consummating the act.

Strangely, the response “We don’t know yet” satisfies no one.

Your ignorance towards your own nuptial desires simply makes you a blank canvas they’re more than ready to fill. They’ll tell you about the veil made of ostrich feathers they saw on Pinterest. They’ll tell you Buzzfeed says wedding pies are so “in” right now. They’ll tell you that it’s fine to want a small wedding but you have to have a big one, you can’t get married in town for under 50 grand, and if you don’t have an open bar people will judge you until you die.

Once they’ve verbally planned your wedding for you and shown you at least 10 videos from their own, you will finally be left in peace. However, the entire interrogation will be repeated the next time you run into anyone anywhere. I suppose I should be thankful, after all, that no one’s asking us when we’re having kids—that will come directly after the wedding!

Carly Heffernan is an actor, writer, improviser and alumni of Second City Toronto. She was a member of the award-winning Sketchersons and continues to party onstage at various comedy venues.
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