If my wedding ring could talk, it would sound like Jean Arthur, the throaty-voiced spitfire in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. It would be full of piss, vinegar and the kind of wisdom you earn the hard way. Picture 84-year-old Katharine Hepburn: blunt, memorable, sarcastic and dressed in baggy trousers. She would be full of good gossip and zingers. My ring would be the life of the party, if rings were dames.
Of course I have no basis for these flights of fancy – just an overactive imagination and an antique wedding ring that once belonged to Joe’s great-grandmother Millie.
Here’s what I know about Millie: she was a small Italian woman who lived with my mother-in-law in a three-story walk-up in Brooklyn, where she cooked big dinners and sewed fabulous clothes. She was married twice and couldn’t keep a secret, especially if it was a pleasant one. Other than that I don’t know much else about the woman, which feels kind of wrong since I wear her wedding ring 24 hours a day.
Some girls spend their girlhood picturing their ring finger bedecked in a diamond, emerald-cut and mounted in platinum, fastened to a band that was dipped in gold at the end of a rainbow somewhere in Africa. Me? I had other fantasies. On more than one occasion I said I’d be perfectly verklempt if my husband-to-be proposed with a hot tub.
When I did, however, finally warm to the idea of a ring I latched onto one word: antique. I wanted a ring with a past. But since Joe and I rarely spoke of marriage, much less marriage BLING, my fondness for antique rocks never came up. I figured if my hand ever needed a swift Liz Taylor-ing I’d browse Zales in my jammies and order one of those eternity rings middle-aged husbands buy for their middle-aged wives to let them know they’re still the cat’s meow.