Thursday, June 5, 2008

Ring Around A Domestic

There's a lovely young couple, of whom I am rather fond, who will be getting married soon.  They spend a lot of their time playing games together. Not that kind of games, you bunch of pervs. Proper board games. Carom (*picture of carom match from, backgammon, scrabble ...

Anyway, they are always together and their good humoured bickering during games are quite entertaining and often divides us into two distinct camps. When I am there, the wife-to-be and I will form the "I pity you weaker sex" brigade, sending the husband-to-be wailing for male reinforcements. When the blokes huddle in unity, they try to lord it over us only to retreat sheepishly when the wife-to-be threatens to tell his mum. He's deathly afraid of his mum.
So, I had the chance to catch up with them this week and heard them arguing semi-seriously for the first time since I have known them.

The cause? 


They have been shopping furiously to furnish their new apartment before the wedding. The wedding preparations, from the gowns to watches to china, are taking their toll.

But nothing can tear a affianced couple faster than an over-sticky band-aid ... than ... THE 

I should know. I've been engaged more times than some people have had boyfriends and my jewelry case used to boast an array of engagements rings until my embarrassment made me auction them away for charity.

I know all about cut, carat, clarity, colour and catastrophe.

First comes the pressure, on the poor bloke, to worry about what kind of ring he should get. Traditional diamond? Or something more modern and unconventional? Like a coloured stone? What if she thinks he's being cheap? What if it is the wrong colour? What if she thinks he's trying to imply she is not pure (Asian context here)? 

Oh bugger it ... off to the pub for a pint.

While there, the clueless male asks some of his mates for advice. He fails to notice that half of them are pissed. The other half never had a girlfriend before. And those who had would rather die first than get hitched.

No worries, he asks the total stranger next to him wearing a wedding ring for advice.

The bloke says, "Get a diamond. Small one. Safer."

He's mighty grateful and fails to notice the counseller is a middle-aged twat who's just been kicked out of his house for playing hide the sausage with the nanny. Which was why he was going to try to sleep on the pub floor that night.

So, our man decides on a traditional diamond engagement ring. He brings his best mate with him to a jewelry store.

Bloody hell, there are so many types of diamond rings. And diamonds! What's this brilliant rose and princess slice business? What about the ones in the picture? You know? One diamond on some silver band thingy? Yeah, that one.

What??? 20,000 pounds???? Are ye joking? No? Feck off!

He retreats home to nurse his wounds and to restrategise. He decides to check the girlfriend's preferences.

For weeks, he puts magazines strategically in her path and for once, instead of switching off her chatter when she coos over this or that, he listens.

He casually asks her which picture she thinks is good and which are shite. He takes notes. He sweats. Bloody 'ell, she has expensive taste.

Finally, he makes a decision and goes shopping again. He buys a smallish diamond solitaire with acceptable Cs ... he's not sure what they are but the blokes in the store said they were VS - very sweet. He chooses the cheapest yet reasonably respectable option which is still the amount of some small banana republic's GDP.

So it's all sweat, blood and tears as he sobs over the massive hole in his wallet. Now he had to worry over the proposal. 

This is hard. It has to be romantic. Yet unique. But it must suit her taste. She must not expect it. He had to keep it a secret. 

Bloody hell, back to the pub for a pint. And a pattern forms.

Somehow, our hero manages to pull off the proposal. Girl accepts amid happy tears and a shy pretense of surprise. She's no fool. You think she would not have wondered why he was suddenly interested in her taste in fashion and actually looking at her magazines?

Then out comes the ring.


"Wow, it's so ... dainty."

"Yes, yes, I wanted it to look good on you. Nothing too loud and flashy for a classy babe like you."

"Well, nothing will be flashing alright ... "

Uh oh ...

So they had a huge domestic over the ring. She's annoyed that he did not pay attention to her taste. She hates the traditional solitaires with fussy filigree that he bought her. He thought she liked traditional and classic designs. He'd seen that kind of ring on his mother and aunts.

The size of the diamond was also in contention. Why so small? So they could save for the wedding and honeymoon. 

Those are over in a flash but she would be wearing the ring for life, she sniffed. Why so small? 

He mutters darkly.

Nowadays, the size of the diamond on an engagement ring is equated with the size of the man's love instead of his wallet. 

For some reason, somehow, the cost of a diamond ring is taken as a matter of course. Of course the man has to fork out a diamond ring. Of course cost should not be a consideration. Of course it only matters if the girl likes it.

I am sure glad I am a girlie.

I've been the best female friend male mates have called at all times of the day and night to cry in panic over what ring to buy. I've had to accompany numerous mates on their virgin sojourn to highway robbers disguised as jewelers as they hand over their life-savings, for something that might land them on the living room couch for weeks.

Within my collection of engagement rings was a solid silver band with a minuscule diamond chip that cost all of 40 pounds. It was the first engagement ring my ex-husband gave me. Back then, he was terribly poor and it was all he could afford. 

Actually, the first engagement ring he gave me was the twist tab from a can of soda which I used to flick him on the forehead with. Needless to say, his first proposal was rather unsuccessful. (Not because of the cost of the "ring," mind you.) So were his second, third and ... but that's another story ...

I cherished that ring more than the ridiculously dearer, and vaguely tacky, diamond engagement ring he gave me later to compensate for the first offering. He never understood why I preferred wearing the "el cheapo" ring over the over-blinged doorknob disguised as a ring. 

Our two young friends got into a terrible argument over their engagement ring. It was a pretty, little thing, albeit rather old-fashioned and slightly twee. But this came from a bloke who favours Metallica T-shirts, wears all black and heavy silver chains.

The fact that he even sat through fashion magazines to pick out a pretty little ring is an achievement and testament of his adoration of his bride-to-be.

But our girl was too hurt and humiliated. I think she forgot who they both are and what they are about in her frenzy of romantic fantasy. They are not Prince Charming and Princess Charmed. They do not have the coffers of a small nation to spend on an engagement ring. They have much bigger challenges ahead of them than a piece of carbon pressurised from too much romantic expectations.

I truly felt sorry for both of them.

He has to go back and get her another ring.

She has to get him an engagement watch in return.

That was the compromise as they almost argued themselves out of a wedding. He gets her a "better" ring. She gives him a an engagement gift as well ... a Guess watch he had been eyeing.

Sigh. Young love. 

I've booked my ticket to be there for the wedding but I am not counting on it.