You will feel crushed, devastated, humiliated … but at least you will know where you stand with him.
How things have changed. It used to be that society took care of a woman under such circumstances.
Way back in 1288, no man would have been able to just reject and run like that. For it was in that year that a law was passed in my native Scotland that required a fine to be levied if a man refused a marriage proposal; financial compensation was set at one pound sterling in order to soften the blow. In some places, the tradition was restricted to proposals made on Feb 29.
Fast forward to 2012, and what do you get for getting your heart and ego shredded by a refusal on leap day? Not even one measly pound. But isn’t that what women have been fighting for all this while? To be treated the same as men?
These days, women can do any number of things that weren’t socially acceptable in 1288. Even so, I can still see the modern woman, for the most part, standing at the back of room, waiting for a guy to ask her to dance. Or hoping that the cute guy living downstairs, or working in an adjacent cubicle, or catching the same train every morning … asks her out. Or wishing that the guy she’s been dating for a gazillion years pops the question before her ovaries shrivel up.
Even asking someone to dance takes courage. If more women had to walk up to a stranger and introduce themselves in a catchy way before asking for a dance, there would be a lot less men being turned down. I’ve never asked anyone to dance, so I’ve never felt the sting of rejection, or had to endure the long, lonely walk back to my side of the room, or heard the sound of giggling male voices as the object of my desires and his friends react to the audacity of Miss Plainness seeking a dance with his Royal Hunkyness.
At the same time, I’ve only ever refused a dance when the asker was being obnoxious in some way.
I’ve also never asked anyone out on a date before, but as a middle-aged woman, I now have the wisdom to know when someone is more than interested in me, and the necessary courage to be the initiator. Not that I’m looking, mind you.
If I could do it all over again, and be armed with the wisdom and experience I’ve gained over the years, I think I would have had more fun. For a start, I would pluck up the courage to ask a certain classmate out on a date; the one who made me laugh a lot. The same one who confessed to me as an adult, that he’d often thought of asking me out but could never find the courage.
The risk of rejection is great, but the potential loss could even be greater.
I wouldn’t wait for leap year day to do anything. I would start today. n Check out Mary on Facebook at facebook.com/ mary.schneider.writer. Reader response can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.