Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Where's the ROM-ance?

The idea of marriage does funny things to different people. I personally can’t walk past a magazine rack brimming with bridal magazines without thinking, ‘Honestly, how many different ways can you do a party favour?’

My best friend Karl, who is unhappily married, says he considers it a good day if he doesn’t think about divorce more than three times each morning; while Barney Chen looks forward to the day when Vera Wang will make him a dress for his marriage to Wentworth Miller.

“Don’t you think this whole marriage thing is just a big con?” I asked my flatmate Amanda the other day at our local Starbucks.

She looked up from her cappuccino and blinked. “You’re asking someone who has kept every single issue of Martha Stewart Wedding since 1937?”

“It’s not even romantic anymore!” I said stirring my latte as I told her the story of Geraldine who’d been dating her boyfriend for two years now. And recently, in the middle of the commercial break for Ugly Betty, he’d turned to her and asked casually, “Do you think we should have a look at some HDB flats?”

Amanda rolled her eyes and groaned. “Ugh, I hate that! Can guys please learn to propose properly? Applying for public housing permits is not romantic!”

Which got me thinking. I grew up with some rather, admittedly, dated concepts of romance. Girl meets boy. They fall in love. They part and rendezvous in Paris. They kiss and The End. Not anymore. These days, it seems to me as if standards have fallen (and not in a good way either, as Barney Chen would say).

I blame it on shows like ‘The O.C.’ and MTV. Everything has become tacky and cheap (and not in a good way). Invitations to wedding dinners arrive by email (if you’re lucky) or SMS. Nobody dresses up properly to celebrate the happiest day (supposedly) of their friends’ lives: I once sat next to someone at a dinner at the Four Seasons who wore a black polo shirt from Warner Bros Movie World Gold Coast. He was also an hour late – “Aiyah, I had a nap. I overslept!” And I honestly can’t remember the last time I received a thank you note for all the very expensive wedding presents I brought.

Whatever happened to the romance (and manners) in our lives? Whatever happened to the carefully planned marriage proposal? Since when was a commercial break considered the right moment to ask someone to spend the rest of her life with you? More to the point, if this is going to be the highwater mark of your romantic life, what do you have to look forward to after the wedding?

“Aiyah,” said my friend Sharyn. “After you marry, hor, no more lo-mance, lah! Anyway, what for you want lo-mance? I tell you ah, once you ROM, it’s the end, ah!”