January 06, 2004

One Ring to Rule Them All

When L and I were dating we used to joke about her "dropping the boyfriend bomb" with the precision of a Tomahawk missile in the caves of Tora Bora. If she was at a party and found herself being hit on a guy, she'd artfully work the fact that she was in a relationship into the conversation: "Oh, that's very interesting! My boyfriend and I were talking about the same thing last night."

Dropping the B-Bomb (or G-Bomb, depending on your gender or orientation) is a good strategy for diffusing potentially awkward situations. It's certainly more humble than directly stating "I'm seeing someone," and potentially less embarassing in cases where you misread someone's intentions.

Let's say someone compliments you by noting "That's a nice sweater" and you're not sure if it's an honest-to-goodness compliment or an ice breaker with ulterior motives. Which of these responses works best?

A. "Thanks. I'm dating someone."

B. "Thanks. My boyfriend bought it for me."

Pencils down? Good. If you chose B, you are an artful bomb dropper and should feel no qualms about adding it to your arsenal. As L is far more attractive than I am handsome, she had to deploy many such bombs. My cache was hardly used and is currently free for inspection by the United Nations.

But now that we are engaged, L has the ultimate WMD: the ring. With a flick of the wrist or a quick run of her fingers through her hair, L can send a message stronger than the Bat Signal: "Move along, single guys. There's nothing to see here."

But what do engaged men have? What does it say about the institution of marriage that we still "tag" women with a physical object to show that they are engaged?

I was in a store recently when a clerk, a young woman in her twenties, forgot to hand me my purchase after ringing it up and was about to walk away from the register. "Excuse me," I said politely, "Could I have the thing I just paid for?" She laughed and said, "For a cute and funny guy like you? I guess so. Here you go." Depending on the light and one's eyeglasses prescription, I can be mildly attractive, but I left feeling bad for this woman. I believe we only have a certain amount of hit-on effort in our bodies and she had wasted some of that effort on me. It wasn't that I would ever be tempted to cheat, it's simply that I wanted to provide some sort of public service.

I told L about this when I got home and we laughed trying to think of ways to balance the scales a little bit. Could men be given a temporary tattoo, set to wash off depending on the length of the engagement? Nah, too messy and it carries bad WWII associations. How about a special colored shirt? Nope, too prison-like. How about a hat? Wouldn't work. People are suspcious of guys who wear hats all the time. What are they trying to hide? (Ron Howard, we all know you are bald)

We didn't settle on anything and have had fun coming up with other suggestions. Any thoughts?

Posted by The Groom at January 6, 2004 10:50 AM

I have two friends who wore their wedding rings on their right hands during their engagement. I think I'd be really in to doing that. Should I ever get engaged.

And, while it may not count as a public statement of takenness, the fiancee of a friend of mine gave him a watch shortly after she accepted his ring. Of course, 25 years later she still has the ring and the watch is gone.

Posted by: jeep at January 6, 2004 12:01 PM

Before I can come up with something, I have to stop laughing, OMG this is too funny! I will see what I can come up with!

Posted by: Kim at January 6, 2004 01:34 PM

Well, here's a crazy idea... Why don't women start giving their menfolk engagement rings too?

Posted by: Rebecca at January 6, 2004 01:56 PM

That's a good idea, Rebecca, and I've heard of people who are starting to do that. I for one, am fine without a ring - I'm not a big jewelry wearer anyway - but I'm sure other guys out there might like the suggestion.

Posted by: The Groom at January 6, 2004 02:04 PM

I gave my FI a very nice Omega watch. Whenever we go somewhere and meet new people, or someone comments that we are engaged, and how much they like my ring, I always say, "Honey, show them your engagement watch." (haha) I have to say, all the guys in my life that are now engaged (friends, brothers, etc), they all complain that they have nothing to show for it!

Posted by: Elisa at January 6, 2004 03:43 PM

I didn't give him anything... not to say I would not have liked to... but, I guess I follow the rules of the masses too much. So, what do I suggest? I think that a ring would be a good idea if the guy were into them, but the majority just don't wear that much jewelery (my hubbys wedding rings sit unused now.. he had a plain band for his work, and one with diamonds for dress... but he uses neither.)

Maybe a tatoo is a good idea? Get the womans name tatooed on your butt? LOL, I can't see my guy doing that... so, old society ways still go on.

Posted by: Desiree at January 6, 2004 06:08 PM

When I designed my engagement ring setting, he designed a ring for his little finger on his right hand. He intends to keep wearing it after the wedding, and he says it's fun to play with in long meetings at work. Symbolic and entertaining at the same time!

Posted by: P at January 6, 2004 06:25 PM

I just stamped it on his forehead.... "TAKEN"

Posted by: Amy at January 7, 2004 12:30 PM

Men have fabric softener. Really, it's like women marking their territory. No single man uses fabric softener. Once a girl gets close to a man she is about to hit on, she takes a big inhale. If she smells fabric softener, she knows the game is up.

But seriously, I gave my fiance a ring to wear, too.

Posted by: Malinda at January 7, 2004 01:24 PM

My mother suggested a reversable T-shirt that reads "I'm With Her" on one side (when the two of you are out together) and "Taken" on the other (when you find yourself without your bride to be). Not a bad idea - cheap, too - but I can't imagine too many women who would actually encourage their grooms to wear the same shirt every day.

Posted by: The Groom at January 7, 2004 02:42 PM

Not to mention the deodorant stains if you need to reverse it on the fly.......

Posted by: Malinda at January 7, 2004 09:40 PM

so, we went to vegas and got pretend wedding rings to freak out our friends... then we really got engaged and he wore his "fake ring" on his right hand until I got him a real engagement ring - then he still wore that one on his right hand! and in addition, people still hit on him (although it seems that there are now more men that hit on him...) and he has to drop the g-bomb a lot! so, if you get a man-engagement ring, wear it on the left hand so people won't think you are just a gay man!

Posted by: another the bride at January 8, 2004 06:07 PM

Did someone already say ULterior? :-)

Posted by: m. at January 8, 2004 07:02 PM

d'oh! spell check would have come in handy. it will be changed for the movie version.

Posted by: The Groom at January 8, 2004 08:23 PM

Well, my fiance wears an engagement ring, which he picked out. Nothing extraordinary, as he's not much of a jewelry wearer either, just a 2-tone gold band. And he has used that WMD many times since then. :D

Posted by: Cathy at January 12, 2004 02:01 PM

My fiancÚ and I got engaged while I was still in college, and I happened to be taking a Metalcraft/Jewelry class that semester. I was joking with him one day, saying he needed an engagement ring too, and that I could make him one, now that I had the tools, materials, and knowledge. He really liked the idea, which kind of surprised me, since he's never worn rings. I presented him with designs and he chose the one he liked best. Now he wears the ring I made for him on the ring finger of his left hand, as his engagement ring.

Posted by: Isabella at January 20, 2004 11:36 AM

My fiancee got me an engagement ring after I proposed to her. Seems to work just fine!!

Posted by: Tim at February 10, 2004 04:34 PM