I honestly thought it was a promise ring. It wasn’t my fault though, the man gave me absolutely no direction.
I’d only known Petey three years, but I already knew he was the hedgiest of bet hedgers. He avoids straight answers and declarative statements the way other people avoid bathing suit shopping and taking the last doughnut at work.
It was Christmastime, and we’d been dating almost a year. We enjoyed each other’s company, understood each other, and were absolutely okay with that knowledge.
We hung out together almost always when we weren’t at work or school. We ate a lot of Pizza Inn, Sonic, and walked around the tiny mall often.
There was a Belk’s on one end, a Roses on the other end, and twelve or fifteen smaller shops, including a Jewel Box. As we glanced in the window and I saw a diamond ring, and said, “Buy me that!” It was a joke, like saying buy me a sparkly pink pony, or asking for a ride to work on the space shuttle. We kept walking, and never mentioned it again.
We’d begun thinking that for Christmas, we might go up to the mountains for some skiing. I’d bought him a ski parka for Christmas and had already given it to him. As we were leaving my folks, he asked if I wanted mine.
The three-year-old inside me was screaming and jumping up and down all over the place. I calmly answered, “Sure if you want to give it to me now.”
And there, in my mom’s garage he put his hand in the pocket of his new jacket, pulled out a ring box and handed it to me—without opening it. But his grin was huge and the sparkle in his eye could have lit the whole place.
I opened it.
It was that ring from the jewelry store at the mall. I was as flabbergasted as a possum presented with a spork. Not only could I not speak, I also had no idea what the ring was for. I’d had no inkling that marrying me had even entered his thoughts.
I couldn’t make my mind believe that it was an engagement ring, so without the power of speech to ask, and with nothing forthcoming from Petey, all I could come up with was a promise ring.
For the young and/or uninitiated, a promise ring represents the intention to become engaged sometime in the future of the future. It was normally a tiny diamond chip surrounded by a collar of sparkly metal to fool the eye.
The ring didn’t fit, so we headed to the mall for it to be sized.
At the mall, we ran into a girl from school who worked at Belk Tyler’s. I showed her the ring. She was the one to finally ask the half carat solitaire, four-pronged question.
“What’s it for?”
Good question, Mary! I looked at Petey.
His infuriating, enigmatic, response? “It’s for whatever she wants it to be for.” Honestly, it was like I was going steady with the Oracle at Delphi!
I finally lost my patience. We left Belk’s and walked over to the fountain in the center of the mall. I sat down and said, “Look, I have a few ideas, but I want you to tell me what this ring is for right now!”
Still standing, Petey held the ring out to me, and said, “Debbie Ross, will you marry me?”
And we lived happily (mostly) ever after.
Thanks for your time, and from silent Petey, The Kid, and me, have the very happiest of holidays and an uninteresting but joyful 2021.
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