#70 Marriage Proposals
The typical EAW both loves and hates standing out ‘in country’ while trying so hard to blend in.
If skin color, accent and (in)ability to dance don’t give the EAW away, the fact that the EAW is new in town, foreign, and relatively wealthy will. Locals have a very good EAW radar and can usually spot one immediately.
For the female EAW in some countries, this means a several-hundred-fold increase in marriage proposals. And that is sooo annoying.
But no worries. As sexist, ridiculous and oppressive as the EAW finds the constant interest in her marital status; on the bright side, at least it provides her with some good opportunities to moast about her new-found hotness.
While hanging out in the expat-friendly environment at the expat coffee shop or at the weekend glocal house party (don’t worry, locals who frequent these spaces are used to being talked about as if they are not part of their own culture), you’ll likely overhear a conversation that goes something like:
- Tiffany: Oh my God, I’m soooo tired of getting proposed to everywhere I go!
- Jen: I know! I got proposed to 7 times last week when I was out in the community working on that evaluation. Jeez, I mean, come on! As if!
- Tiffany: Totally, and you know that one driver [the suave, handsome, ripped 20-something that everyone secretly wishes it were appropriate to repeatedly and wantonly go native with]? He never stops asking me for my number! It’s so ridiculous. Like I’m going to go out with him! I keep giving him fake numbers but the guys here are so freaking persistent. He just doesn’t give up.
- Lisa: Oh that guy? He always tries to get my number too. I’m going to just start wearing a ring.
- Tiffany: GAWD, it’s so annoying. It’s like that guy at the bar last week…? He’s all, ‘it’s such a waste that someone so beautiful is single…’ like I’ve never heard that line before. Can they at least come up with something original maybe?
- Jen: Ha Ha, Oh my God I know, right? He so would not go away. And his friend there was, like, totally into me, too…. Next time I’m just inventing a husband.
- Lisa: I know! It never ends. Remember when they sent me to Abuja last year for that conference. Sooooo boring. I couldn’t even go downstairs and walk through the lobby without being propositioned so I had to spend the whole weekend in my room messing around on Facebook.
- Jen: God and even on Facebook you can’t get away from it. Remember that guy that we met at the beach on R&R? He totally Facebook stalks me, like all the time. I’m just going to put ‘married’ on my profile.
While all this added attention can make the young EAW feel much more attractive than she’s ever felt in her life (and simultaneously more oppressed, irritated, harassed and on edge because if another male asks her where she’s from and where is her husband she may just punch him in the face) her status may change quickly if she re-locates to a different country.
When going from, say, the DRC to Thailand, the EAW will notice a sharp drop in marriage proposals and related attention. This will be a huge relief on the one hand, as she finally feels free to move around in peace. But ironically she may also be alarmed at herself for being a tiny bit dismayed that she’s suddenly become invisible to local men.
Or worse. When the initial reaction of market sellers changes from up-and-down looks followed by sly smiles of approval in one country to, “Madame – very sorry… no have big size!” in another, the romance of being the ‘exotic other’ tends to fade very quickly.
But as with every kind of culture shock and readjustment, this is best overcome by a good round of beers or coffees with her expat friends; in this case, accompanied by a bit of moasting about life back in her last country (when she couldn’t go a day without someone inquiring about her marital status and waxing poetic about her stunning health and beauty) and some re-hashing of the clever techniques she invented to circumvent those moments.
Marriage proposal overload… except, possibly in “madame – no have big size” countries…. Just one of the many sacrifices that you’ll have to make as an EAW.