The Aardvark Speaks : essence, effervescence, obscurity. Established 2002. A weblog by Horst Prillinger. ISSN 1726-5320

January 27, 2007


I always thought that engagements only happen in American movies and American TV series. I don't think I know anybody who got officially engaged before they got married, with engagement ring, huge hoo-ha and everything. I always though it was something of an anachronism, and I'm saying that as a person who's somewhat more romantically inclined than the average Austrian. Engagements in American movies and American TV series always looked all soupy and syrupy.

And now I've got the message that Suw got engaged. Which is wonderful news of course, but it still makes me feel as if she was suddenly relocated into an American TV series and as if I will soon be able to see Chocolate and Vodka on a TV screen near me anytime soon.

It also made me realize that I know nothing about English dating and wedding rituals. Engagements may be perfectly normal there. Of course her fiancÚ is American, which could also explain things.

Anyway, I wish her and Kevin the best of luck.

Posted by Horst on January 27, 2007 12:22 PM to creatures great & small | Tell-a-friend
Jann said on January 29, 2007 02:56 PM:

Engagements happen in American real life too. Part of the reason may be size of the country. When wedding guests, including close family members, have to travel thousands of miles, they need at least a few months notice to book plane tickets, hotel rooms, arrange for time off work, (save the money to do all this). The last five out of town weddings I attended cost me at least $1000 each, including car rental and wedding gift.

Oh, and congrats to Kevin and best wishes to Suw.

Horst said on January 30, 2007 01:11 PM:

Yes, I thought that they happen in American real life. But with Suw being British, I wasn't sure to what extent they happen in British real life. But even though I never witnessed one while I was living in the UK, I suppose they do.

Richard said on January 31, 2007 10:21 AM:

Well, my sister actually got engaged to her Swedish boyfriend two years ago, but the wedding's only this summer. Goes to show that a)engagements are not confined to the US and b)they are not necessarily tied to a certain date.

Jann said on January 31, 2007 04:05 PM:

I'm wondering if absent engagements people generaly behave in one of the following ways:
1)Like my colleague in Buffalo who arrived at work one morning and surprised us all by announcing in a loud voice to all within hearing "You're looking at a married man."
2)Like my father's best friend (a rattlesnake enthusiast), who at the age of forty-five, and presumed to be a confirmed bachelor, sent my father a letter with the sentence "I got married last month" buried so deeply in the talk about snakes that my father missed it, and the news had to be broken by my mother who had read the letter more carefully.
3) Like me, who got married at the age of twenty on my lunch hour from work, with two, I don't know, I guess bailiffs, as witnesses, and made it back to the office in time to avoid the disciplinary thing they did to people who were late getting back from lunch, having walked to and from the courthouse.(I don't talk about this much anymore).

Not everyone in America gets engaged.

holly said on February 9, 2007 02:05 PM:

where do you think they get the ideas for american tv series anyway? well, contrary to popular belief, not just from british tv series, but also from real life. as an american living in wien for the past two years, i have come to realize that austrians have a totally different concept of relationships in general. "dating" is an extremely foreign concept, somewhat akin to chinese water torture, i believe. engagements are equally bizarre and i believe that marriage outside of practical grounds is also becoming pretty much extinct. but what really fascinates me is that austrians are extremely unsentimental in general. the idea of investing any time or energy into sentiment (other than for children) is considered absurd, whether that be engagements, dating, romance, even long pointless phone calls. it's a wonder that they even express emotion to their dogs.

so believe all the hype: the english-speaking world is cuddly, fuzzy, dopey, and sentimental, in real life as well as on TV. and we like it that way!

dieter said on February 19, 2007 11:57 AM:

We do not date, we ask someone out.
We do not engage, we set a date for a wedding.

This does not make us less emotional or romantic. However, the fact that there is no English translation for the German word "Kitsch" does say something.
And, of course, not all Austrians are like this.

By the way, you are mistaken about dogs. People who get very emotional with dogs usually compensate for their inability to relate to people and especially children in any meaningful way.

Jann said on February 20, 2007 02:22 AM:

You finally answered my question, dieter. I believe this discussion has become one of semantics. Here in the US, if you ask someone out, and the person accepts, that's called a "date." If you set a date for a wedding, you're considered to be "engaged" whether you have a big formal party or just tell a few close friends and relatives, or even if you don't tell anyone. (I guess things aren't really so different.)

When I was in Vienna last November I met some very friendly, kind and helpful Austrians; certainly they're not all lacking in sentiment. For example, I bought some handmade but inexpensive Christmas tree ornaments; when the lady in the shop asked me if they were gifts and I said that they were, she went out of her way to gift-wrap each one beautifully, with multiple ribbons, etc., and at no extra charge. Very rarely would you see this in the US. (The recipients loved the ornaments and the way they were wrapped, made me wish I'd bought out the whole supply.)

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