It’s Officially Unofficial!

Another friend has officially joined the dark side, and Bad4 is officially confused about the official part of it.

I’ve never understood this “not officially engaged until tomorrow night” business. Either you’re engaged or you’re not. If he proposed and you accepted, then you’re engaged. If he didn’t propose and you didn’t accept, then you’re not. And if he didn’t propose but you both know he’s going to propose and that you’re going to accept, that makes you, apparently, unofficially engaged, and also, in my opinion, quite weird. Why not get it over with already?

How do you end up in that sort of situation anyway? He calls up and says, “I’m going to propose tomorrow at 4 pm,” and if she doesn’t say, “I’m going to refuse you tomorrow at 4 pm” then they go ahead and tell everyone that they’re “getting engaged”? But you can’t say mazal tov yet, because they’re not engaged. So what’s the point? I guess so you can be parked outside their house when you get the call on your cell phone, “I’m engaged!” so you can run in to their l’chaim shrieking, “Ohmigoshohmogosh! You’re engaged?!!? Mazal tov! When did it happen? I had no idea!”

I used to not understand this “unofficial” business at all, but I think I have a handle on it now. I’ve been getting a lot of this “when you get engaged, you better tell me” business. Ironically, the more you tell people that you’re not getting engaged, the more firmly they believe that you’re a hop skip jump from a diamond ring, and the more urgently they press upon you the importance of letting them know ASAP – preferably before it happens. In fact, while trying to notify people that Friend #7 is now “officially” engaged, I had at least two conversations that went roughly like this:

Me: Guess who’s got herself engaged?

Her: You?

Me: No! Would I go and do something like that? Friend #7 is engaged to Guy #7 from Location #7! How cool is that?

So when I run down the list of people who absolutely must know the minute I get engaged, it makes me want to crawl into bed and not go out. First there’s your parents, because heaven knows they’ve been waiting long enough for the opportunity to hang up the phone, slap each other five, and go, “Ye-ah! Finally she’s someone else’s problem!” Then there’s your grandparents because you can’t have them find out second hand – that’s just rude. And any siblings who are married need to be informed as well.

Then either you or your parents need to call the aunts and uncles who would be insulted to find out from anyone else, even though you know they’re going to wrinkled their foreheads and wonder, “Someone proposed to her? Well, every pot has a lid. Can’t wait to meet this guy.” But before them come your close friends who you really want to tell because you’ve been dying to tell them about this super-awesome guy you’ve been dating for weeks, but couldn’t. And then there are the good friends who absolutely cannot find out from OnlySimchas first, or you can kiss your bridal shower goodbye. And a handful of friends you need to call because they’d want to hear it from you, for some reason. In summary, getting engaged sounds like a headache of obligations.

This “unofficial” engagement takes care of all that. The first tiers of people to find out are of course the parents and grandparents. They surreptitiously spread the information to immediate relatives so they can be strategically nearby when it becomes “official.” Meanwhile, since no secret stays a secret once more than one person knows it, it somehow gets leaked to a single loudmouth friend. Because it’s a leak, nobody feels insulted that they weren’t told directly, because of course no friends are being told directly, because it isn’t official. And of course they only spread it among the upper tier of friends, who are all primed to be available the minute you call them. But you don’t need to call them. Because along with the information that you’re “unofficially engaged” comes the release time for the official engagement. As soon as the clock strikes, your name is on OnlySimchas and friends are calling each other, and everyone understands that they’re not hearing second-hand because nobody has yet heard first hand. So when you finally get around to calling, nobody minds that you’re the fifth person to tell them that you’re engaged. How efficient is that?

It works very well, but it’s still silly. If and when I get proposed to, I’m going to give my answer and go home and go to bed. My parents will sleep better if I don’t tell them until the next morning, and I can do all my phone-calling over a leisure breakfast. Nobody will be insulted because everyone will be insulted. It’ll work great! I think.