Here are some fabulous vintage postcard images that illustrate the tradition. Apparently, getting a man to the altar requires a lot of weapons.
How about this photo?
If you saw that crappy rom-com Leap Year a couple of years ago, you already knew about this tradition because you saw Amy Adams race over to Ireland to propose to her douchebag boyfriend.
But, of course, Amy ended up with the hot pub owner who had to help her when her travel plans went awry. When my travel plans went awry one time, I was helped by a surly, overweight woman in a blue vest with multiple ear piercings and she had the audacity NOT to offer to drive me to my destination herself and subsequently fall in love with me. Doesn't she know how this is supposed to work? We could have been so happy together.
Anyway, the totally crazy idea of ladies asking out men is seen at high schools across the country even in non-Leap Years when schools host Sadie Hawkins dances.
Sadie's father, an important member of Dogpatch society, decreed that one day a year would be Sadie Hawkins Day. On this day, a footrace would be held in which the town's single women would chase the bachelors. Catch one and - boom - he has to marry you. Of course, only uggos like Sadie here would ever have trouble "catching" a man without a decree and a footrace.
(My sarcasm muscle is getting a little overworked here.)
After the comic ran, colleges started holding Sadie Hawkins Day events, always in November.
Somehow, over time, it's become associated with Leap Day. Most of these dances are held in February. Listen, this just makes sense. We can't have women running around willy-nilly asking men out or proposing to men all year long! What's next? Napkins becoming paper towels or a car? Water becoming beer?
At my high school, you asked the guy and then you had to buy matching shirts to wear to the dance. Just for your enjoyment, here's a little stroll down my memory lane.
|Austen Adams made me buy those super-cool Garth Brooks-looking shirts.|
Those Garth-Brooks, western, snap-button shirts.
Oh, the humanity.
I also seem to remember that they passed out pretend marriage certificates at these dances. What in the holy hell? Todd Blanchard, do you owe me some alimony?
I really only did the asking one of those years, the first year, and if I remember correctly, I did it by note. The note was probably folded like this:
So, as "radically feminist" as I am, I never really asked out anyone until I was 38 years old.
Several years ago when I was first divorced, my friend Christopher Davis tried to give me lessons in how to ask out a man. I think he made up some scenario in which I would casually mention some band playing at a local bar and then, even more casually, say, "Wanna go?" I wish I had a video of it because he did his "man voice" during this scenario. Yes, he's a man anyway, but his "man voice" is hilarious. Despite his best efforts, even the thought of asking someone out made my face turn red.
Then last spring, I'm not sure what happened. I called someone I'd met through a friend and said, "We should do something this weekend." Simple as that. I think part of it was that the day before I'd gone to the funeral of a dear and wonderful friend (a friend whose absence I will probably never fully accept) and maybe I thought, "Fuck it. Life is short." Or maybe I was trying to distract myself from the grief. It could have been that.
It wasn't a footrace, but I definitely felt like I experienced some little victory that day, a victory over my own nervousness or insecurity.
And, in the tradition of those Sadie Hawkins dances from years before, I bought myself a new shirt. I did not, however, wear Keds.