With This Ring, I Thee Wed
When my husband and I got engaged, there wasn’t any fancy proposal involved.
Truth be told, there wasn’t any proposal whatsoever.
We had been dating for two years and had talked about getting married for a while, so a “pop the question” kind of moment would have seemed a little forced. We simply took the next step, hand in hand, that would lead to our “together forever” plan.
I like to tease him about the complete lack of fanfare, but really, I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
One Saturday afternoon, we visited a jewelry store in a mall and purchased a solitaire engagement ring that our school loan-burdened futures could bear, and I slipped it on my finger, marveling at the rainbows that radiated from it under the showroom lights.
We were engaged for two years, and as our wedding date drew near, despite the fact that Jame was not a fan of wearing any jewelry, we purchased a ring for him as well. It was a handsome brushed gold and silver band that I would be darned if he wouldn’t wear.
The conversation went something like, “You know what? If you don’t wear a ring, I don’t change my name. What’s it gonna be, buster?”
So he wore the ring.
Until he didn’t.
We had only been married for a month or so and were sitting in a dark theater when all of a sudden I heard an unmistakable DING…a ding…ding…ding…ding…DONK.
Sure enough it was his wedding band, that he incessantly pulled off and put back on his finger, falling onto the floor and haphazardly bouncing its way down through Coke puddles and over blackened gum wads only to stop with a thud at the wooden baseboard of the stage. Jame claims the movie we were watching was “A Fish Called Wanda.” I’m sure he’s right, but I was so distracted during the better part of the flick thinking about the symbol of our union laying face down in a pool of pop that he could have named any other movie and I wouldn’t be any the wiser.
As soon as the credits began to roll, we rushed to the first row, reached down into the popcorn muck, and collected his ring.
Shortly after the movie incident, however, the ring mysteriously went missing once more, and hasn’t been seen or heard from since.
Having a ringless husband has been an issue that I’ve had to grapple with for nigh on 30 years.
It’s not a major gripe, actually. I understand that jewelry and certain people just don’t go together. From the minute he put that ring on, it became his albatross: something he constantly fiddled with and couldn’t wait to take off each night.
Some folks consider wedding rings the smallest pair of handcuffs around. That wasn’t his beef. He simply couldn’t tolerate wearing anything on his finger.
Thankfully I don’t doubt his fidelity for a second. I know, also, that a ring in no way guarantees commitment. That has been proven plenty of times.
But I mean come on. Here I sit saddled with a last name like “Ejupi”, and his finger is as free as a lark flitting hither, thither, and yon without even an ounce of gold to weigh it down. For years every time I dropped off our dry cleaning, the old Asian woman behind the counter would ask for my last name without glancing up and I would reply “Ejupi.” And then, true to form, she would look up with a crooked smile and say, “Oh, you marry for love. Not for name.” And then she’d throw her head back and cackle uproariously at her own wit.
The other day, Jame answered the front door of our house as the bell sounded.
“Who was it?” I inquired from the depths of the Lazy-boy when he came back in the room.
“The UPS guy just delivered those deck lights from Costco that I ordered.”
“Okay.” Unintrigued, I dove back into England in the early 1900’s: the setting for the latest novel I had just begun, leaving Jame to rip open his package in the kitchen nearby.
“It’s funny,” Jame said as he walked over and stood in front of me a few minutes later. “Now that I’ve lost weight, so many women have come up to me at work, have commented on it, and have asked if I’m married.”
What an odd, uncharacteristic thing for him to say. I gave him an unamused stink eye and looked back down at my book.
“Yeah, so I mean, they’re really confused about whether I’m married or not,” he continued in a slightly louder voice to make sure that I had fully comprehended the weight of what he had said.
Seriously? What the heck was he trying to convey?
“Uh huh. Your point being what, Jame?” I asked with a touch of paranoia laced with a decidedly cantankerous edge.
“Well, it’s just that maybe all those hundreds of women won’t be so confused anymore. What do you think?” he asked, a grin growing on his face as he flashed the shiny new band of gold at the base of his ring finger.
I reached for his hand and fingered the smooth, cool, foreign metal.
Twenty nine years.
Twenty nine years and the man had finally, out of nowhere, replaced the AWOL band that I had long ago stopped thinking about.
And while I don’t need him to wear a ring to prove that his heart is mine . . . well, okay, maybe setting those “hundreds” of fictitious women at his work straight would be a bonus . . . I sort of love that he thought to pick it out, buy it, get it sized, and then have it shipped to our home.
I don’t know what prompted this new arrival. I don’t even know that I want to ask. I also don’t know how long he’s going to be able to bear wearing it: it’s been on and off, on and off, on and off hundreds of times in the last few days.
What I do know is that it’s suddenly become the latest little thing that I love.
Cover photo: By Petar Milošević