Flash Mobs and My 15 Minutes of Fame

Sitting at a trade fair yesterday, myself and some of the other exhibitors had become thoroughly bored. It was the afternoon of the last day, and the manic rush of setting up and raising our expectations had been followed by four days of overwhelmed buyers politely trying to navigate their way through the maze-like shrine to all things commercial. There were two young girls (now that I am 40, when I say young I mean 26) looking after a stall across from us, and they wandered over to watch some YouTube videos we were playing on my lap-top. Somehow the chain of recommended links led us to a series of videos related to the kind of marriage proposals where competitive men spend too much money trying to find their 15 minutes of fame – largely by implicating huge numbers of bystanders in ostentatious displays of love. One of the Young Things asked me to find a video of a flash mob proposal that had taken place in the food court of one of our local shopping malls. They knew the couple concerned, and hadn’t yet seen it.


Watching the group of dancers performing “All you Need is Love” against the red and white backdrop of the Wimpy (a local McDonalds-type restaurant) as the potential groom made his excruciatingly slow way down the escalator, the Young Things were all a twitter. “Oh my God how embarrassing”, “Oh no, look at how stupidly she is dancing”,  “This is so corny”, “I would totally say no if that was me”. Inevitably their conversation turned to other kinds of proposals they had heard about, and the kinds of proposals they would feel inclined to say yes to.


Driving home half an hour later, I started reflecting on how oddly similar life’s great announcements are. These two cynical Young Things discussing marriage proposals will turn into two judgemental Young Things discussing the best wedding speeches or aisle dances (seems dancing up the aisle with 15 bridesmaids is a -thank God-new trend of those keen on upping the wedding day stakes),  and how so and so told their husband/mother/friends that they were pregnant.


I laughed as I realised that I now find myself firmly in the stage where me and a certain group of my friends are discussing “How I found out he was having an affair”. And while the content might be less cheerful and rather embarrassing for others to watch, I can honestly say that my Discovery would have impressed even the Young Things.


Cheating Husband had gone to my mother’s place to do an EFT as our internet was down. The money transfer was the deposit for the the three day get-away we were leaving for the next day, and so it could not wait. Obviously this seemed like a really good time for him to exchange love letters with Desperate Floozy, and in an act so loaded with unconscious intention that it would have made Freud proud, he left an e-mail open. For my step-father to find.


My step-father dutifully called my mother. She was panicked and didn’t know what to do. Should she stop us from leaving for the game park the next day? Should she let us go and give me three more days of tranquil ignorance (I say this sarcastically, because by this stage Cheating Husband had already made a ‘you are an inadequate wife’ pre-emptive strike and I was definitely not happy)? Or should she phone my older brother? In an act that I still, to this day cannot fathom, she chose C – call over-protective older brother. My brother, in turn, was faced with some difficult decisions, particularly as by this time me and Cheating Husband and the kids were happily watching giraffe eat leaves in the Pilansberg. Should he come and fetch me and the kids and whisk us away to safety? Or should he phone my cousins? Yup, you guessed it, he chose B.


By the time I arrived home from The Getaway, I had an audience of eight (very lovely, very caring, but very there) family members, all anxiously waiting for me to get the newsGranted not a shopping centre full of people, but enough to feel like it was a community event. And like with the YouTube videos, what follows next is not that interesting so nobody really watches. Once the big moment has passed and the onlookers have shuffled away, you are left to deal with details. The wedding venue, bridesmaids dresses, table settings, seating plans. The baby shower,  nursery colours, baby names. Who will sleep on the couch tonight, how do we tell the children, who gets them on the weekends?


I suppose I can be grateful that he did not serenade me with the news, singing ‘I Kissed a Girl and I Liked It’ while being carried down an escalator. I have a new found appreciation for privacy and the limits of social networking. I wonder what my next Grand Announcement will be? I suspect the next round of big news for me and my friends is ‘Ex is Getting Married’. Great. I wonder what what he will pull out of his hat for that one? And will it go viral?


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