The words I never thought I’d say: Marry me

The Jewish Chronicle - - Features -

READERS, YOU may re­mem­ber that, late last year, I got dumped by my girl­friend Mandy when she fi­nally twigged I wasn’t go­ing to be able to pro­vide her with the things she re­ally wanted: my ul­tra-rare Frankie Say Arm The Un­em­ployed T-shirt from 1984 and box set of nine Se­in­feld DVDS. She also, greedy crea­ture, wanted mar­riage and chil­dren, and even though I do most things Iain Dun­can Smith tells me, this time I had to put my foot down.

You may also re­call that, de­spite agree­ing that break­ing up was the right thing to do, I didn’t respond like the men­sch I know you know I am. No, I be­came a whing­ing wreck, bor­ing ev­ery­one stupid with my mis­er­able lot.

I tried to be foot­loose, but it didn’t work. And so, in­stead of get­ting over the split, I did what any self-re­spect­ing technophile who’s just been chucked does in the 21st cen­tury: I mon­i­tored my ex’s ev­ery move us­ing all the gad­getry and so­cial me­dia at my dis­posal.

I spent hours — days — kvetch­ing about what she was up to. I kept call­ing her, even on my mo­bile when I was out, dur­ing the day, noch, at peak rates. I stalked her on Face­book and Twit­ter. I blew up pic­tures of her, printed them out and stuck them on other women’s faces when I went on dates with them so that it would be like be­ing with her. Only one of these facts isn’t true. Readers, can you guess which? It was aw­ful. And the whole night­mar­ish pe­riod cul­mi­nated un­ex­pect­edly with a trip to Pizza Hut with my three chil­dren and a young lady I met on Jdate. Me and the kids used to go to Pizza Hut with Mandy and it was great. I fig­ured I’d try and recre­ate that easy mod­ern-fam­ily feel­ing with this new girl. Big mis­take.

You know that bit in Woody Allen’s An­nie Hall where he brings a woman back to his apart­ment and he tries to re­cap­ture the fun he had with Diane Keaton chas­ing a live lob­ster des­tined for the pot around the kitchen, only this time the woman is not re­motely amused? Well, this was ex­actly like that, just with­out the shell­fish.

What re­ally pushed me over the edge and made me re­alise how much I missed Mandy was find­ing out what she was up to. Ba­si­cally, she was hav­ing the time of her life, par­ty­ing, go­ing on dates, and gen­er­ally be­hav­ing like a woman re­born while I was sat in my room of gloom sur­rounded by sur­veil­lance equip­ment like a Jewish Ge­orge Or­well.

She’d even bought a fancy new black car, the sort that screams, “I’m young! I’m free! And although ad­mit­tedly that bald fortysome­thing was an in­cred­i­ble catch, I’m bet­ter off with­out him!” Worst of all, it was a two-seater. How would me and my three chil­dren all fit in a two-seater? An­swer: we weren’t meant to.

It was the sporty Audi that did it. Sud­denly, I knew what I wanted. Not the car — I’ve al­ways pre­ferred BMWS — but Mandy, mar­riage and com­mit­ment. It was a real eureka! mo­ment, if Archimedes was a rock jour­nal­ist and not an An­cient Greek scholar.

So I called her and asked if we could meet at Al-jazeera, not be­cause I fan­cied hang­ing around an Ara­bic news sta­tion per se, but be­cause I was go­ing to be nearby, and Mandy works there, where she’s the only Jewish staffer (un­less you count the Is­raelis).

She agreed, but warned me that she had “moved on” and wasn’t in­ter­ested in get­ting back to­gether. We could meet up briefly for a chat, but noth­ing more. I said that would be fine, but as soon as I saw her walk to­wards me in the foyer of the TV stu­dio I changed my mind. What I was sup­posed to say was: “It was lovely know­ing you, but I ac­cept that you need to get on with your life, so good­bye”. The sen­tence that ac­tu­ally came out of my mouth was the rather dif­fer­ent: “Will you marry me?”

Mean­while, the scenes on the tele­vi­sion screens were of Egypt ablaze. Was my world about to be­come a sim­i­larly cat­a­clysmic mess? I hoped not — communal up­ris­ings tend to bring me out in a rash. Mandy was about as floored by my pro­posal as she could be con­sid­er­ing she was try­ing at that mo­ment to so­licit from a Mid­dle East­ern aca­demic his views on the lat­est round of vi­o­lence in Cairo.

Luck­ily I had some­thing at­ten­tion­grab­bing with me: an en­gage­ment ring, which I de­cided to whip out there and then. To say there was shock and awe on the faces of the as­sem­bled — Mandy, the spokesman and the make-up lady — would be some­thing of an un­der­state­ment. I looked a picture my­self: on my knees in the green room (orange, ac­tu­ally) of a TV sta­tion, ask­ing my ex to marry me while the poor woman was try­ing to quell a riot.

Her suit­ably apoc­a­lyp­tic re­sponse? “We’ll see…”

Woody Allen and Diane Keaton hit it off in An­nie Hall

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