You loved the first part of Rach M’s engagement story, and we’re back with the next instalment. More family,more love, with some New York in the mix. If any of you have ever felt the pressure of “not being engaged yet”, if you’ve ever shouldered the burden of a family’s expectation…you’re about to stand up out of your seat and say YES. You are not alone.
Happy Wednesday, readers. Over to Rach M:
I’ve said before that I have an Irish Mammy whose main concern for a few years was that I would end up “an Old Maid”. She actually uses the term ‘Old Maid’, then whispers fearfully about my cousin who was dumped after an eight year relationship and is now single. “Forty and single” my Mum reminds me. I love my cousin dearly and I hope she doesn’t let any of this nagging get to her.
“Would she not go to salsa?” wonders my Mum. “I heard there’s loads of fellas at salsa”. She goes out to write this on the pad by the phone so she’ll remember to suggest it to my aunt the next time she speaks to her.
You see, O reader, that there’s not just my Mum, the centre-stage narrator of everything, but – enter stage left – a chorus of graceful-throated, tea-drinking, speculating aunties who love nothing more than a good old fat-chew of all of our lives. In some generational baby-naming laziness, they all seem to be called Mary, which if you are around them makes it very difficult to follow the thread of what they are talking about, for example:
“Yes Mary, no Mary, what I mean Mary is…”. My Mum once fell asleep when taking to a Mary on the phone, WHO TALKED FOR HALF AN HOUR WITHOUT REALISING SHE WAS ASLEEP, then Mum woke up with a “Jesus Mary, I was asleep there!” and promptly forgot which Mary it was.
So, Mum and the Marys being given the glimmer of hope that I had a boyfriend and someone could actually stand me, needed no starter whistle to begin the speculation of when M was going to pop the question.
There appears to be a completely unfounded correlation in the minds of the Marys between birthdays and proposals. All this began when my much-referred to cousin turned 30 and the aunts cooed and waited with bated breath for her to be asked (she wasn’t, it all ended some years later), and then discussed on the phone in a withering whisper “Birthday came, birthday went, no ring.” They wheeled out this mantra again for her younger sister, who also passed a ringless 30th. Another cousin of mine was (cue aunts’ collective shameful gasp) single on her 30th – and the talk and speculation was she’d ‘missed the boat.’
On her 30th dancefloor I had to have a few strong words with her Mum who said to me ‘every single one of her friends is married apart from her.’ I took her to task on this, saying wasn’t it better that she found the right one rather than anyone? My aunt, a great avoider of conflict, didn’t answer and instead said something about the party in reply to me. I wanted to scream and shake her. We love our mothers and know that their expectations of us are a part of them but in my family anyhow, they sometimes need reminding that it’s not 1950. I could tell from my aunt’s face that at that moment, she wouldn’t have cared. Anyone would have done, and I was really disappointed in her.
Fortunately for everyone, my cousin went on holiday the very next week and met her future husband. They got married last summer and the Marys are now on babywatch.
Happy 30th Birthday Brownie from my Irish American cousins
And what of M and I? We moved in together after one year so they had a diamond glint in their eye. Not long afterwards, it was my 30th – yep, you know the drill. We were off to
New York. The aunts were in a frenzy.
Me and M on top of the Rockefeller. We have a thing for climbing tall buildings in foreign cities.
We had a fab time in the Big Apple, but M couldn’t escape the expectation. One night we went to my mum’s cousin’s for dinner. As we were leaving, her husband said to him: “Good man. Remember the Diamond District is just off 5th !” followed by a belly laugh and a thwack between the shoulder blades that nearly threw him into the family picture wall.
“Christine and I got engaged at the top of the
Center in The Windows of the World restaurant. But don’t worry – there’s still Little Italy!”
We were speechless.
I’m ashamed to tell you that all this speculation got to me and even I thought it might happen. To the point where I did a Beyonce ‘Single Ladies’ shimmy when we passed the glittering gateway to the diamond district. Nothing. Then on our last night glamorous dinner (I’d had a manicure and EVERYTHING), I kept staring at him, willing him on.
“What do you want, a menu?” he asked.
I sulked on the plane home, and told him why.
“Don’t worry,” he said on the Piccadilly Line on the way home as a girl and her fiancé admired her ring, “you’ll get your diamond. One day.”
And I did, but that’s a story for another time. Meanwhile one of my cousins got engaged on Christmas Eve and the first thing my Mum said was:
“Could he not have waited til her birthday?”
Coming Soon!…Part 3: “Mum’s The Word“