Monday, February 26, 2007

The marrying man

The last time I asked someone to marry me, I was 23 years old. Actually, that was the only time, since Tim is the one who proposed to me.

The first time, I was too allergic to the future to think about what I was doing; after considering it for about 15 seconds, I walked into a jewelry store at 1:00pm and walked out 45 minutes later, a small box in one hand and a $2500 invoice in the other.

I was scared, actually frightened, by the debt. When she unceremoniously dumped me and kept the ring, fear turned to anger--but it amazes me how much drama such a small amount of money created. It burned at me for years, as if I had bankrupted my retirement account.

But that was several jobs and promotions ago. Now, $2500 means nothing. Tim and I refurnished our family room recently, and after dropping $2000 on furniture, and $1500 on an LCD HDTV (which rocks the house by the way, more on this later), we splurged on a fancy dinner ($97, inlcuding tip). That night, I slept like a baby. In fact, I slept better than usual, knowing that we had taken steps toward improving our home.

After proposing, Tim did not ask me for a ring. It was almost like she did not care, or that she wanted it to be strictly my idea.

When you are in love and planning to get married, you want everyone to know it. You want to talk about it, turn it over in your mind all day long. Having said that, it's easy to get out of hand. Some guys think this is a contest. "Bob got his girlfriend two carats, so I'm buying three for mine!" I want to buy her something extravagant, because I love her and want her to have the best. She doesn't deserve to be cheaped out on. However, I think anything over $10,000 is ridiculous to spend on a ring. I'm going to keep the price below that level if I can.

Tuesday, 11:30am
New England Diamond Exchange

"This is a gorgeous one," Ira says, pulling a ring from it's black felt bed. "See? It talks to you!" he purrs, turning it this way and that under the sharp fluorescent light.

Tim slides it over her pinky. "Hmm," she says.

It's far too small. Her hands are dainty, almost little-girl like, but the band is narrow and the stone unsubstantial.

"I think we need a bigger one," I say. Ira and Tim look at me. "Are you sure?" Tim says, reaching for the tiny price tag.

I pull the ring away. "She's not allowed to look at price tags. Okay?" I say to Ira. He smiles and nods.

He takes a step to his left and pulls another ring from the display case. She slides it over her finger and we all fall silent.

The band is platinum, and thicker than the others we've seen; the stone looks big and heavy, and its shine is clean and flawless. It doesn't matter how beautiful Tim is; the ring demands your attention, insists that you stare at its perfection.

I watch her as she studies the ring, as if she were a jeweler herself. "Can I see that... magnifying thing you put in your eye?" she asks.

"Sure," Ira says, handing her an eye loupe. He and I smile at each other; she is hooked and we both know it.

"What do you think?" I ask, finally.

She leans to the side, trying to read the price tag. I snatch it in my right hand. "Nice try."


"Do you like it?"

"Oh my God," she breathes, just like she does during intense sex.

"How many carats is this, Ira?"

"Two and a half."

I need to know how much it costs, but it's important that I not look shocked, no matter how high the number. I glance at the price tag with a nonchalant smile.

So much for my $10,000 limit. But the ring is perfect.

"We'll take it."