We signed some holy papers, promised in front of God and about eighty-three broadly grinning, teary eyed people to love, honor and cherish one another [Vigi still insists the word "obey" wasn't in there] … then each slipped a wedding ring onto the other’s trembling fourth finger of the left hand. If you start counting from the pinky, or don’t count the thumb as a finger, everything changes but the ring still winds up in the same place.
To some it’s a universal symbol of never ending love and devotion, while others treat it simply as another piece of jewelry that is worn like a watch or bracelet … and may even, occasionally, get tucked into a pocket or purse during unspecified extracurricular activities. Most women wear it with a measure of contentment, watching it grow smoother and thinner as details disappear with the passage of time. Most guys wear it dutifully, periodically contemplating the permanent groove it etches into that fourth phalange as their own circumference increases and that of their wedding ring does not.
There are two occasions when the ring can be a symbol of sadness: Customarily, when it migrates from the left hand to the right upon death of a spouse and stupidly, when some dufus takes it off in a bar or similar setting. The latter occasion is particularly pathetic because the offending party is not only intending to violate the honor and trust that was once vowed at the altar but, if it’s a guy, he’s also clearly ignorant of the magical power that ring has to attract women … nearly as great as its power to manufacture immeasurable amounts of guilt. Nonetheless, a wedding ring is a babe magnet! If you don’t believe me, just walk into a singles bar sometime and notice who is drinking alone and who is making small talk through a big nervous smile.
I once interviewed a group of women who expressed a strong preference for married men. The most common reason given? “Because they’re safe. You know you don’t have to get involved.” I have no idea why men might be attracted to married women, unless they’re filthy rich … that wasn’t part of my assignment. Either way, the Seventh Commandment has taken quite a beating for a long time!
What happens on your finger often reflects what’s happening inside in your head. I’ve worn two wedding rings during my lifetime and, looking back, they receive mixed reviews. To avoid eye-glazing detail, suffice to say that my first wedding ring ended up in a shop that had a “We Buy Gold” sign on the door. It netted thirty-five bucks. The second one has never left my finger since it was originally installed nearly twenty-five years ago … except during surgery. Even then, Veege and I touched fingertips and slipped the ring onto her finger from mine and back again in the recovery room.
Both of us have always attached great importance to preserving the tangible expressions of the emotional bond we share. Notice I didn’t say “the love we share” … that’s something different, though it’s all part of the same package along with romance and other aspects of sharing one soul and one spirit. It may have great importance, but I don’t love my ring … I love my wife.
There is one tangible expression that still remains unexpressed and, not coincidentally, it too encircles the fourth finger of the left hand. When we became engaged, I couldn’t afford a proper-size diamond so, on the advice of a friend, I gave Vigi a rather elegant birthstone ring instead … along with the promise that on our twenty-fifth anniversary I would exchange it for a diamond. Although she has tried several devices to let me off the hook, to me that’s like the fat guy waving his dish in the air while turning down a second chunk of chocolate cake. With only a few months to go, dinner is over … and dessert has begun!
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