Monday, August 18, 2014

My $20 French Wedding Ring

Sometime near the end of my pregnancy with Ruby, my fingers got a little puffy. I could put my wedding ring on just fine, but it grew increasingly difficult to take off. I have this fear of my ring getting stuck on my finger, similar to my fear of drowning in a dark pipe. Same thing. So I haven't worn my ring for a little over a year (having the baby didn't un-puffify my fingers as much as I'd hoped) ... bringing on two very different, irrational fears:

1) I worry that some judgy woman will fake-whisper something like this to her daughter behind me in the grocery store checkout line: "That's what happens when you get pregnant out of wedlock! You get prematurely frumpy and poor (I kind of dress like an urchin), and you'll spend all your money on diapers and fruit snacks instead of those Beyoncé discs your father and I think are Jezebel's trash!"

For that smelly sparkle you've always wanted.

I'm glad this has never happened because my response would be half-baked and equally judgy. I should probably think of something really zen or cryptic to say back. Maybe something like, "As the fertile moon is dim without the light of her sun, so am I supported by my baby-daddy-husband who works in the energy industry and makes sufficient fruit snack lucre pillaging the earth of her energy-rich gases. But were I not, remember that fear is a lesser teacher than reward. Sat nam, judgmental she-snake." Then I would wave my technicolor kaftan and disappear with my babies in a puff of incense smoke (along with my frozen California Pizza Kitchen BBQ chicken personal pizzas, of course).

2) I'm afraid I'll get hit on. Except this has only happened to me 1) while living in Spain (because Spaniards), and 2) in 6th and 9th grades, both times by really popular "bad boys" (one had an earring, the other wore boxers with lobsters on them--both hallmarks of juvenile delinquency, I know) who were just trying to humiliate me.

At my prime.

But I don't even have Spaniards or disingenuous 14-year-olds expressing any interest. Apparently being a haggard-looking, pregnant, seemingly-single mother of 2.5 is less attractive than the next Nicholas Sparks book-to-film project would have me believe.

I grew tired of entertaining these irrational fears, but I was unwilling to resize my ring and concede to the permanence of my fingers' fatness. I made a decision. There was a solution. A $20 solution.

Enter the Target engagement ring. Have you ever seen such a paradoxical token of opulence and frugality? I love it. And Target is a French company, so tralala.

Buying the ring was pretty embarrassing. Despite the low prices, the rings were kept in a locked display, so I couldn't clandestinely pick out my fake diamond fake wedding ring set. I had to confess to a teenaged Target employee that my finger was too fat for my real ring. Because I really AM married, you know. To a real man. Who can buy me a real diamond. Just letting you know ... in case you thought I was buying a fake diamond to pretend I got it from a fake man ... yeah.

Me (rifling through the rings, awkwardly trying them on while they're still attached to their square pieces of card stock): It's funny that you have these locked up. They're only $20 ...

Target girl (standing there, watching me): Silence

Me (does she think I'm an unmarried/unengaged fraud? Why the heck is she just standing there? Let me buy my embarrassing merchandise in peace! This is worse than buying tampons as a teenager at the Target where most of the cashiers went to high school with me): I just wanted to buy a placeholder ring to wear while I'm pregnant ... because my real one doesn't fit right now ...

Target girl: Silence

Me (she probably thinks I have some lame fiance who is making me buy my own engagement ring. At Target. For $20. Or else she knows my fingers are fat.): Ok, I'm done.

Target girl: Are you ready to check out?

Me: .... yes?

Target girl (walks to nearest checkout line, hands ring to the cashier, who is in the middle of ringing someone else up): THIS (holds ring up ... everyone can see what a big fake diamond I picked out. Why did I get such a big fake diamond? It's blinding everyone with its lies.) is for HER (points at me at the back of the line).

Apparently my $20 circle of shame is too valuable for me to give it to the cashier myself. So now everyone in line in front of me knows I'm buying myself a fake wedding ring set. Gah.

You know how hard it is to take an in-focus, not fat-looking picture of your hand? Where is the button for "de-puff" fingers in Photoshop?

Am I tacky to wear a $20 placeholder ring? Especially one with such a big CZ? Be honest and don't worry about telling me you think it's tacky, because 49% of me thinks it's tacky.

The 1% that made me buy it:

1) I don't care what people think (mostly). I think the kind of people who will judge me in a meaningful way (meaning they'll treat me differently or talk badly about me behind my back) for the authenticity of the shiny rock in my jewelry are the kind of people whose opinions I don't value anyway. Except teenaged Target employees. Apparently their opinions matter a lot to me (writing that in my Future Fodder for Therapy journal).

2) I knew I wasn't buying a big fake diamond to impress people. The presence of a ring addressed my two social phobias, but I only got such a big sparkly one because I legitimately think it looks pretty. I didn't realize how much I'd missed seeing a symbol of fancy femininity on my finger. I didn't buy it to look wealthy.

My original ring on the left with fakey on the right ... and the requisite unrelated prop.

3) Lack of regard for what other people think notwithstanding, I can hardly tell it's not real, and I don't think most other people will, either. How many people are going to grab my hand, compare my fake diamond to their own authentic rock, and cackle, "I knew it, you poser! The refraction pattern never lies!" Most people will see only a glimpse of small shininess as I walk by and think, "She's married, I guess I shouldn't ask her to get froyo after she's done buying cabbage with her kids, who she probably conceived within the bonds of matrimony."

4) I'm symbolically saying "poo-poo" to the diamond industry and the global evils (slavery, violence, cult of status) it promotes. Take that, DeBeers!

See the squeezage?

5) This ring is so cheap, I don't care if it gets lost, cracked, or dirty. Because, $20! Way less stress.

Some other thoughts: A small part of me wonders if we should have saved the $$$ we spent on my real wedding ring. For $20 a pop I could get a brand new, shiny, and on-trend ring every six months for our entire marriage and probably save money (especially if I would have put the money we spent on my real ring into a mutual fund).

But what about sentimentality? Don't you want THE ring you got married with to last forever until it gets buried with you even though your grandkids really wanted it? Yes, I do have a malleable heart that has succumbed to that part of the diamond industry's propaganda, so I have a solution for that: buy an affordable, but nice, durable, and pretty band (heck, put a little diamond on it if you must), and call that "your wedding ring." But then don't be afraid to put it in your jewelry box for a rest and change it up! (Also, the ring Nathan wore when we were married started to discolor a few months later, so his "ring" isn't even the "real" one, but do I care? Not really.)

Is THIS tacky? Maybe if I added a matching belly chain ...

What do you think? Would you ever wear a "fake" ring? Would you have been okay if your husband proposed with a cubic zirconia? If you had to choose between the ring design of your dreams and the authenticity/size of the stone, which would you choose? Would your husband care if you wore a "fake" ring?


  1. You don't want to hear this, but my ring cost less than fifty dollars, and I love it. I picked it out. It is a tiny gold band that gives me zero trouble. I have never thought about getting a new ring for when my fingers get sympathetically fat. I totally could just get another one slightly larger. You're great.

    1. Holly, I thought of you while I wrote this post. I wish I would have had your wisdom when I got married.

  2. I haven't worn my ring for four months now. I figure that my veneer of middle class respectability protects me from the judgement of strangers.
    However, I love your solution and I think the ring looks convincing and classy. I might go and get a CZ rock of my own.

  3. I am not wearing my ring right now because of swollen fingers as well. I have oft entertained the idea of going to get me a cheapie fake one, mostly because I too miss that sparkle of femininity. When I haven't washed my hair, am wearing day old clothes, and can't remember the last time I wore make-up (it used to be that I could count on Sundays at least as always being a make-up day...but even that's out the window), it just would feel nice to have something look beautiful and sparkly on me. ;) I just may have to follow suit.

    1. You should try it! And I remember when even Sundays became makeup-optional ... long ago.

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