Whatever X, Day XI

In this refresh from the archives, I’m thinking symbolically.

JUNE 19, 2005: Two rings


I haven’t worn a wedding ring in several years, on account that I’ve lost not just one, but two — both in the yard here at the house. The first one I lost the second year we were here, while I was out playing with Athena; it just slipped off my finger. This led to both Krissy and me searching the yard in vain, Krissy with a metal detector. This is the problem when you have five acres of lawn; that’s a lot of ground to cover.

Krissy gave the second ring to me on Christmas Eve three years ago; that ring lasted a little over 12 hours before I lost it, playing with Athena in the snow. Krissy, who had every right to be righteously angry with me about losing a second ring so soon after she had gotten it, just laughed instead; that probably had something to do with the fact that I was so hangdog depressed at the fact that I’d lost the ring that there was very little she could have done to make me feel any worse than I already did.

That’s where the ring situation stood for the last three years. I went ringless because, among other things, I was mildly terrified of losing a third ring; it seemed like one of those “three strikes and you’re out” sort of things. On a day-to-day basis this wasn’t a problem, but it did have the interesting side effect of making women I had just met while I was away from my wife suspicious of me. I would talk about my wife and they would reflexively check my hand and notice that the ring was not there. This implied either I was one of those men who refused to wear a ring, which has misogynist undertones (not good), or that I had taken the ring off while I was away from my wife (really not any better). Then I would have to break out the “I lost two rings playing in the yard with my child” story, which, while effective in making me the object of feminine pity, is one I’d rather not have to break out every time I meet someone of the XX-chromosome persuasion.

Forward to last Friday, our tenth anniversary, and I’ve decided that I’ve been foolish about this ring thing long enough. Fact is, I want to wear a ring — I want to have a clear and obvious symbol of my marriage, and the tenth anniversary of our marriage seems like a fine time to symbolically recommit. So I went and I got another ring. Nothing expensive, mind you (the paranoia about losing a third ring was still there). Just a simple gold band, like the other two rings I had. I slipped it on my finger in the store and wore it home.

I didn’t show it to Krissy in any obvious way; I didn’t get it for that reason. I should have been wearing a ring all this time, so I didn’t want it to seem like a big deal that I was wearing one now. Of course she noticed anyway, and after a moment of surprise at seeing something she wasn’t expecting on my ring finger, she seemed pleased.

Off we went to dinner, and during dinner we talked about the last ten years and the things that have gone into making the marriage work: Love, honesty, devotion and so on, but then Krissy added that the ability to surprise each other also helped. This seemed fairly cryptic until Krissy came around the table and presented with a second ring. Krissy got me the ring because she knew I wanted another, and she decided that I had been silly long enough about it.

The irony here was that as I was going to get my ring, I considered the idea that Krissy might have gotten me a ring, and that maybe I should wait. But the fact is, I didn’t want to wait. I wanted to wear a ring on my anniversary. The sudden appearance of a second ring didn’t make my decision any less correct; it merely confirmed it was the right thing to do.

I love that Krissy and I both had the same idea at the same time, and for the same reasons. This is the one of the true blessings and strengths of our marriage — we get each other and understand how the other works, and we sense what the other needs and wants and we go out of our way to make it happen. I love that I had two wedding rings on my anniversary. It says good things about me. It says good things about my wife. It says good things about us. It says good things about our marriage.

Of course, on a day to day basis, two rings is one ring too many. The ring I bought is going back to the store, since the ring Krissy got me is nicer, and also only an idiot would not wear the ring given to him by his wife.

You ask: and just what happens if I lose this ring? Well, the answer lies in the inscription Krissy had etched in the inside of the ring, which in itself serves as incentive to keep track of this one:


75 Comments on “Whatever X, Day XI”

  1. Congratulations on 10 years, but if only your wife had cut her hair to buy you the new ring, the O. Henry monment would’ve been complete!

  2. That tattoo line is a great punchline to the story, especially since you haven’t lost the third one. I’ll bet you call it “my precious.”

  3. Iain:

    I think I can live with her not having to do that, personally.

    Also, while I thank you on the congrats, note the date on the piece is from 2005. We’ve actually been married 13 years now.


    I am indeed very very very very very careful with this ring.

  4. I have not yet been married i have just over a month left untill that happens *November 1st* However i would have to say that if i lost my ring she would most likely try to kill me over it. However i would replace the ring over and over so that i would always have one.

  5. John,

    Yes, I noted that & my spelling mistake so I’m all covered in glory. You hit lucky 13 the same year as my my wife & I did.

    To go along with your other topic, we were invited out for a drink with our neighbors who quietly told us it was their 11th anniversary–of course thanks to the state of Ohio, these truly good people have no legal recognition, no property rights & no right to benefits, but as a heterosexual, I feel MUCH more secure knowing that!


  6. I had inscribed on the inside of my husbands ring “put it back on.” After 5 years, he has not lost it. He had inscribed in my ring “mawwiage wing.” Go for the funny! (This is from the couple who got married on the Ides of March at Caesar’s Palace in Vegas – it’s only unlucky for Caesar).

  7. Last December, I went to a Christmas tree farm up near Wooster, Ohio. I cut down the tree, dragged it to the spot where the tractor & wagon would haul it back to the barn for me, then I noticed my ring was gone. It has slipped off of my finger somewhere in the massive tree farm. I looked all over the path I walked for about half an hour to no avail. I left my name & number “just in case” anyone found it, but really, didn’t think anyone would.

    3 weeks later, I got a phone call, someone had actually found it IN A TREE.

    Talk about a lucky break.

  8. I wore a ring for many years, but Mark never did (just not a jewelry-wearing sort of guy, I guess, and in Jewish ceremonies, only the bride receives a ring anyway). When my ring got too tight (almost twenty years ago, IIRC) and started forming a callus on my hand, I took it off, and never replaced it. As we explained to people, *we* know we’re married and don’t really need the ring to remind us.

    We’ve been married 36 years altogether, and whether or not I was wearing a ring didn’t seem to affect us.

  9. I don’t wear a wedding ring. They are dangerous. Way back before we got married a co-worker of my not-yet-wife broke a finger when his wedding ring caught on an closing file drawer. And Neil Armstrong got his ring finger ripped off when his ring caught on the bed of a pick-up truck on the family farm. (It was re-attached successfully.) My father once shorted out a circuit with his wedding ring and got a nasty burn. I don’t wear any rings, with good reason.

  10. This was a beautiful essay.
    We lived in France our first year of marriage. Anyone who has visited will probably know that toilet paper and towels are a scarcity in many toilets. One rare night out in a restaurant, I lost my ring after fanning my fingers to dry them. I heard several pings and crawled around the floor in a panic until I found it. Luckily, it had landed just shy of a drain-hole in the floor. Eighteen years later, my knuckle is just enough larger that I think this wouldn’t happen anymore, but I’m still much more careful.
    I think you and Krissy should collaborate on a book about marriage.

  11. I’ve lost my ring twice and managed to retrieve it. The first was on a cold autumn day bagging leaves – I spent the day dumping bags of leaves on the garage floor until I retrieved it – and boy, just try finding a gold band in a pile of brown-and-golden leaves. The second turned up missing after a day at the Y, to have someone blessedly turn it in from the pool.

    Now I remove it when going swimming, working in the cold, or (sometimes) when reaching into live electrical panels.

  12. Seriously? She had the tattoo line engraved on the ring? Lulz!

    Mr. Scalzi, sometimes you lead me to believe that your wife is cooler than even you are. How come she doesn’t have a blog? =p

    Great post. Thanks for reposting it.

  13. @ 11, Mark Evans:

    That’s why I don’t wear a wristwatch. I spent too much time working in the mental health profession, where an angry client can use your wristwatch as a way to maintain a grip on you that’s really hard to break…

    I don’t think I could get away with not wearing my wedding ring. Even if my culture doesn’t call for one, I like wearing it. :-)

  14. Not long after I got my high school class ring (back when the earth was still cooling) I lost it in a park near my house. Darkness had fallen by the time I noticed it was gone, but I went back to the park with a flashlight to search all 20 acres. I found it hiding under a leaf. I still have it.

    I never did lose my wedding ring, but since I am no longer married I don’t suppose it would matter anymore.

  15. Good for you, good for your wife, and congratulations. I agree with the poster who said you and your wife should write a book about marriage – win win situation.

  16. Oh wow. Your wife is cool. (From what I’ve read here, she’d probably tattoo it herself!)

    Of course, there are dangers in the opposite direction. My dad hardly ever took his off (even when flying), and refused to get his ring resized as he got older, even when the only time he could get it off his finger was after washing his hands with a lot of soap. He relented only after he was reduced to putting 3-in-1 oil on his finger to get it off. With my mom’s help. I thought it was funny as hell.

  17. My first wedding ring got so tight on my finger I had to have it cut off for resizing. Only I lost it before I could resize it.

    My second wedding ring I gave back to my first wife when things started to sour. I told her to give it back when she knew she wanted to stay. It’s packed away somewhere in her Pod, waiting for her to move into her new house this weekend.

    The big, thick ring on my finger now was a sudden purchase, reflecting the sudden decision to marry Nita. Like the first two, it’s now tight on my finger.

    I doubt I’ll lose it.

    Still getting a tattoo for her.

  18. I really like this essay too. My DH lost his ring in our first few months. When we moved after a year, it fell from inside the couch when we picked it up. We hypothesize that our kleptomaniac cat stashed it. Either her or the ferret. We’re not sure. We’ve been married 13 years and he still doesn’t wear a ring.

  19. This was a great entry, and I’m enjoying the look back through the archives – I only joined your blog in the last year or so.

    Also, I hope that my one-day marriage will be as awesome as yours.

  20. Thanks for the excellent repost. I sent it along to my dear wife and she loved it, too.

    I love wearing my wedding ring. It’s a part of me and if I ever take it off I pick and paw at the void left. I’m not truly comfortable until I put it back on. I guess in a way it’s like being away from the one you love in some respects. When that one is gone there is a void that only they can fill.

  21. For the record: I love your wife.

    Totally platonically and all that, but her sense of humor absolutely rocks.

  22. My wife lost hers (both wedding and engagement) about a year after we were married. She took them off while doing some housecleaning, didn’t think about them when done, and two days later she suddenly realized that she couldn’t remember where she’d put them. After two weeks of ransacking the house, we concluded that they’d been placed in the garbage, and would never be seen again. This occasioned another trip to the jewelry store, where we picked out a replacement set. Even more expensive than the first set, but totally worth it. Now she is very leery of taking them off to do anything, even when you really shouldn’t be wearing them, like playing with caustic chemicals.

    I take my own off fairly frequently, as I play around electrical equipment quite a bit, but so far I’ve been lucky and haven’t misplaced it.

  23. I like this essay a lot, Mr. Scalzi. It’s Good Stuff, Maynard.

    I saved myself the trouble by getting a pre-lost-and-replaced ring: It belonged to my Dad, who died before I got married, and inside are inscribed two dates: 9-2-68, my parents’ wedding day, and 9-14-72, the date this ring replaced the original, which my father had lost.

  24. This story made me tear up and laugh. If you don’t have the best wife in the world, John, you at least have the perfect wife for you! I’d like to add my voice to the chorus suggesting you and your wife collaborate on a book about marriage, or maybe just a memoir about YOUR marriage. It could serve as an example to us all.

    iain 2: Today is O. Henry’s birthday, too.

  25. Thank you for the repost, I’ve sent it along to my husband so we can have an ooo and aah moment together.

    We felt the same way at our 10th anniversary – a special time with our rings taking on added significance. We had been making do with rings we’d ordered out of the Signals catalog 12 years prior to appease a landlord who wasn’t all that partial to unmarried people cohabiting under his roof. When we did get married two years later we took off those same rings before the ceremony, handed them to the officiant, and then had them put back on about 30 minutes later.

    At 10 years it was time for something more real, more official. Also, at 10 years later we weren’t poor starving recent college students anymore, either. I love my new ring that has official grown-up sparklies, and my husband’s that matches mine in shape and color. It was a wonderful 10th anniversary gift to each other.

    We celebrated our 14th anniversary last week. And what has happened to the first rings? We each wore them on the opposite hand for a while, and then the Mr. took his off for some bongo playing and hasn’t put it back on. I took mine off when I was pregnant (the old one didn’t fit anymore, but the new one was fine) and didn’t put it back on. It’s the power of the ring finger on the left hand, and some of the power and magic left our former rings when they migrated away. There really is something so strong about the statement that ring makes on your hand – a public declaration of your commitment. (I am also a wedding officiant – and as I say in the ceremony – “a daily reminder of your love for one another.”)

    Awww, must call husband now…

  26. Mark Evans: I’m pretty sure those accidents are flukes and outside the norm. Billions of people are married, and I’d bet only hundreds are (physically) wounded by their wedding bands. But you know, go ahead and plan your life around the extreme odds of that.

    /Just joshing you man. You have to expect it after a post like that.
    //Had a roommate who didn’t want to wear deoderant because she was worried about armpit cancer.
    ///Same roommate always ALWAYS waited 5 seconds before opening a microwave after use so she wouldn’t get wrist cancer.

  27. Congratulations on the anniversary- from everything that I’ve read, it seems that you and Krissy are a great match for each other.

    I go back and forth on the wedding ring- my first husband couldn’t wear a ring because it interfered with his job, and now that we’re mid-40s, my husband finds that his ring acts as a beacon for women “chatting him up”. We’ve even “tested” it- if he goes grocery shopping without his ring chances are he’s going to get hit on, without a ring, not so much. I will gladly wear a ring as long as it doesn’t get in the way of daily life (ie no big stones poking out the top, because I garden and cook a lot).

    I don’t think that wedding rings mean as much to the people outside of the marriage as they used to.

    Don’t ever get the tattoo. I’ve got a few friends who have one, and apparently in pubs it’s the sign for “sane, not stalker, not looking for entanglements”. At least in Southern Ontario.

  28. I’m on ring #3 as well… lost both the previous ones on vacation (the first being one of a pair we had custom-made when we got married). Now I have a $20 ‘travel ring’ that I wear whenever I go on a trip – so much cheaper to replace.

    I too have been threatened with the ring tattoo if I lose another ‘real’ ring. But I have a lot of tattoos already, so it’s not that much of a threat…

  29. Way back when I was married AND working in retail, I was bagging for one of my checkout operators one cold winter day and after the customer walked away, realized my rings were gone. Remember chasing the customer out to their car and retrieved my rings (it was a regular customer and they were highly amused). Quit wearing rings to work after that.

  30. OK then: Is your new ring Vilya, Varya, or Nenya?

    Oh wait, it isn’t any of them because it doesn’t have a stone. And it does have an inscription inside…hmm.

    Can you imagine if Frodo pulled the ring out of the fire and the inscription read “The next one’s a tattoo”? Could change the entire story!

  31. Glad to hear that I’m not the only one to lose their ring. Though I only lost on, during a move from Chicago to Tennessee.

    Think I’d be banished to the couch for life if I lost a second.

    Your wife must really love you.

  32. Ed:

    Yeah, but technically there were four rings involved (not to mention Krissy’s ring, which would make five).

  33. A Marine in my platoon did that prior to deployment–the tattoo thing, I mean. He was paranoid about losing the ring and/or having it result in some horrific accident (I could tell you such stories!), so went with the tattoo of her initials around his ring finger instead. Technically not kosher in the military (no tattoos visible in uniform, I believe), but no one gave him shit about it. Perhaps because we were nasty Reservists.

  34. I had not been planning on wearing a ring either, but my mother (who is into estate jewelry) gave me a beautiful antique ring as a wedding present. Beautiful, but hugely impractical. I figure it may be useful if I become an international superspy and have to cut through a glass window with the diamond to escape.

  35. The first year we were married, my husband and I both lost our wedding bands. He thinks he lost his slinging a trash bag into the Dumpster, and mine is still a mystery.

    About a month after he lost his ring, I injured my hand. I couldn’t wear them, so I kept my rings on a chain around my neck. Once my hand healed, I reached for the chain – and only my engagement ring was there.

    We never replaced them. First we were too poor, and now, coming up on twelve years, it just seems unnecessary.

  36. Heh. Right now my wedding ring doesn’t fit, and neither does my husband’s. On his hand OR mine. I tend not to wear mine except for special occasions anyway as it’s an opal and I’m paranoid about cracking it. (I work in photography, and stands and lights are heavy and unforgiving.)

    My mother once lost the stone out of her ring in the front yard. There was my dad, vacuuming the yard for all to see… but he didn’t find it. The next day, my mom looked out and there it was, sparkling with the dew.

    It’s set a little better now.

  37. Oh wow, nice story. I recently lost my wedding ring in the ocean. You think five acres of yard is a lot to search? Try the Pacific.
    I was utterly crushed. Like you, I really like wearing a ring. Without it, something’s just missing.
    My wife’s reaction was “Can I take mine off?”

  38. Dude, I don’t think taking your ring back to the shop’s a good idea. If ever there was someone who needs a backup ring it’s you!

    Just think what all those XX chromos would do if you turn up wearing two rings! Just say “I love them both so much” and they won’t know if you’re talking about both rings, or both wives!

  39. My husband has bought me many rings at this point, but the one he bought for our engagement was a $10 sterling band with pentacles on it. It’s the only pentacle bit of jewelry I’ve ever worn. And while I have other rings given to me by him that were far more expensive, he’s only ever worried about that one.

    He doesn’t wear a ring. Not only did his father almost lose a finger because he was wearing his ring at work (a factory) and it got caught one day, but Jason has horrible luck with those sorts of things. It takes a week tops for him to drain a watch battery. I bought him a necklace and we have to replace the cord almost every year because it frays that fast. One might accuse him of having an aura of entropy. He plans to someday get his tattoed on. I’ve asked him “What if we break up” and he says he’ll never get married again because it’s the kind of commitment you make once in your life. It’s not disposable.

  40. Congratulations on the anniversary. I’ve been through the multiple-ring thing, too. The first one, really nice and hard to afford on a combined law-school student/retail clerk’s salaries, got stolen a few years into things with my pants, car keys, wallet and checkbook from a gym locker. The second one was a bit cheaper and much plainer because our deductible on our home insurance policy was set pretty high so we could afford it in our hurricane-prone part of the world. The third one, much nicer, though not as fancy as the first, was an anniversary present from my wife. It only took me three (or was it four?) different tries to get the right size, depending on the time of day I went to the jewelers. No engravings on this one–just 20+ years of good memories and two daughters and a wife who’s patient enough to put up with me reading the OMW series. Just got done with Android’s Dream–any hopes of a sequel?

  41. I always used to wear a wedding ring, until someone we knew got his finger ripped out by the roots by his. After that, whenever I put it on I saw that picure of the mutilated finger, looking very much like an empty foreskin with blood running out the end. My wife decided that it would be best if I didn’t wear my ring any more.

    I still have it, although I have been divorced for nearly 19 years. No, not adultery while not wearing the ring. Gay.

  42. Congrats on 10 years, that the years have passed are loving, easy and fun. Or at least seem so.

    Jim lost his wedding ring the first winter of our marriage, he tossed a pop can into the dumpster and the ring followed the can. However, we think it got out and went down a crack in the drive because it was an otherwise empty dumpster. We replaced it fairly soon with Christmas gift money, which was good because shortly thereafter the price of gold skyrocketed.

    I was always the girl who wasn’t going to get married. My first year in college I went to U. Miami, Coral Gables, FL and the only thing I didn’t hate was the SF Club.

    I transferred back to home and U. Kan. It did not have an SF club so I started one. Jim showed up at the first meeting and my heart went, “he is the ONE.” That was in 1976, we married after graduating in 1978. Once in a while we look at one another and go “how did time go by so fast?!”

  43. My husband has also lost two wedding rings. When he lost the second one we didn’t have a lot of money to replace it so he saved up for a couple months to buy a new one. He never told me he had lost it and I didn’t notice he wasn’t wearing it, until one day I saw the (new, identical) ring on his finger and said “Hey, you haven’t been wearing that much lately, have you?”, so he had to come clean.

  44. AWWWW!!!
    Your story made me cry!!! That’s such a sweet story!!! Your 10th anniversary is the stuff legends are made of!!!
    Krissy is amazing!!! “The next one is a tattoo” lol =)

  45. My wife and I have been married 23 years. And this year has been rough. She has MS and has recently developed siezures (fortunately controlled now) as well as memory and cognitive impairment.

    I read her your story and we had a great laugh together.

    Thanks for the lift.

  46. OK, perhaps I’m rather dim but what “misogynistic undertones” are there in men not wearing wedding rings? I have an acquaintance who wears his on a chain around his neck, not because he hates women (but is confused enough to marry one, and have three daughters into the bargain) but because he works in a hospital. Losing your wedding ring while playing in the snow with your daughter is a cute story. Realising you’ve lost it in the middle of a long shift in an ER on a busy holiday weekend? Loud obscenity-laced tirades and finding your odds of becoming employee of the month have vanished.

  47. We just celebrated our 13th as well this year. Mazel Tov.

    I do all of the cooking in my household, as you might expect if you’ve ever clicked through to my website. I usually take my ring off while I’m cooking and put it on my keychain so that I don’t lose it. I do this so frequently that I often forget to put it back on.

    Which leads to the very same odd looks from women when I start talking about my wife and she’s not around.

  48. Well, I do all the cooking in my house and, with the exception of putting both hands deeply into ground beef and sausage for meatloaf OR bread-kneading (now done by a machine), I usually leave my ring on, since I tend to leave it somewhere on a counter and rush around the house frantically looking for it later.

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