Ring of Fire

-Johnny Cash

So this past weekend the ladyfriend and I were summoned to a Jack & Jill baby shower in Massachusetts.  While not on high on my list of ways to spend a weekend or a night, I felt that I had to go to this one.  For reasons either too lengthy or inane to go into this post.  Nonetheless, negotiations for this trip began in earnest about six weeks ago.  I said I would think about it and when I thought about it, I decided I had to go.  So the ladyfriend suggested we stay with the breeders and she was met with a quick and resolute “no”.  “But it’ll cost…” “I don’t give a shit, I am not staying with them.  I will go, but only if we get a hotel or something.”  Sensing that this point was non-negotiable, she tried one more time to convince me (she is tenacious) and was met with an icy stare and shaking head.  Deep down I’d like to think she completely understood and I think she did.

So, off we go to Marblehead, MA last Saturday morning.  We stopped in Mystic, CT for lunch…and some underwear.  Met a lovely woman at the Army Navy store who suggested a place to eat.  We went.  It was delicious.  Then back on the road.  We eventually rolled into the quaint little village of Marblehead around 5pm, giving us just enough time to check into our B&B, shower and be on our way to the shin dig.  As we were putting on our finishing touches, I noted that the party was from 6:30-8:30 and I wanted to be ass cheeks down in a restaurant, just the two of us, by 8:45.  Again, she tried to convince me that maybe we should stick around, but I knew she was seeing this group of people this weekend so I stood firm, within reason (we finally left around 9:10).

Now this all may make me sound like a huge controlling jerk.  I can assure you, I am not.  I have a history with the people who’s baby we were celebrating and the history is not very good.  So, I knew my re-introduction to them had to be minimal.  I had to protect myself from saying something dumb, I had to protect them from some ill advised and curse laden diatribe and mostly, I had to protect her.  These people may have been assholes to me, but they have always been good to her and I have to respect their relationship with her in order to respect our relationship.

So we are there mingling.  I had a few drinks and all said and told, it wasn’t THAT bad.  I assure you, it is not something I want to repeat, but I recognized it’s importance to her and made the best of it for me.  It was less painful and irritating than a root canal.  So this older gent starts chatting the ladyfriend and I up.  Well, to be honest, her.  I am certain he had very little idea I was there after we shook hands.  Being a male, I knew he was laying down his geriatric rap on her.  So I assert my presence by grabbing her hand and kissing her cheek.  I can’t believe I even have to do that at all, but it’s never bad to do that.  Eventually, retired douchnozzle gets the hint and includes me in the conversation, by saying the following:

“Do you two live together?”

In all fairness, a decent question if a little forward and rude.  And the ladyfriend and I have lived together…and that ended with an 18 month separation/break up.  So we chuckled and said that we did not.  Not understanding of our little inside joke, he nodded and then asked how old we were.  Yep.  Now I learned when I was a young teen that you don’t ask a woman her age.  Period.  This is just never really an appropriate question and given the company I was in, I was truly surprised (although based on history I should not have been) at the complete lack of manner and class some of these people had.  So I made him guess my age and he undershot it by about five years.  Fine by me, I do look young but then he overshot the ladies age by about four years!  This should have been a clue to walk away, but we stayed.  Gluttons for punishment apparently, but we did want to see how he dug himself out of that one.  Sadly, he kept digging.

In an effort to cover up his epic blunder, of course, deflected it back to me, “What is wrong with you?  You need to get a ring on this woman!  She’s beautiful (and she truly is) and someone could steal her!”  My temperature rose immediately.  And I replied, “Her?  What about me?  I’m a good looking guy, shouldn’t she be concerned?”  Well, this was the funniest thing to him, he called me ugly, to which the ladyfriend said “Uh, no he’s not ugly at all.” and then he said, “Well, he’s old”.  Old.  I looked around the room and took a breath and patted him on the shoulder and replied, “Paly, I am not old, trust me.  I have more stamina than anyone in this room and I don’t need cocaine or a little blue pull it off”  Well, you would have thought I said the funniest thing he had EVER heard.  I looked at my ladyfriend and shrugged  a little and she grabbed my hand and said “Well, it was nice to meet you” and off we went.  I wasn’t that upset and neither was she.  We had a laugh at his idiocy.  The guy was a jerk, enough said.  But he did say something that struck both of us odd and kinda fired us up.

You see, neither one of us are huge proponents of marriage.  I have stronger feelings for it than she does and my feelings could hardly be called strong.  I know I want it…someday.  Too many other things to explore first.  Anyway, what struck us both was the fact that somehow this “ring” I had to get for her was going to be the almighty bond that would keep us forever bound and insure we both remained faithful and would certainly keep all those hormone riding hooligans away from her.  Hogwash.  A ring is not going to stop someone from hitting on her.  A ring is not going to stop me from hitting on someone, I don’t do that now.  A ring won’t stop either one of us from cheating.  You’re gonna cheat, you’re gonna cheat.  ‘Nuff said.  What the fuck does a ring represent anymore?  Nothing.  Divorce statistics are ridiculously high, infidelity statistics are equally as high, so what do we gain?  We are already committed to one another.  We wear rings already, albeit on the European hand, and have made a vow to not cheat.  Does that mean she doesn’t flirt?  Oh, I suspect she does.  I suspect guys have hit on her, but what can I do about it?  A wedding ring won’t stop that.  If either one of us wants to cheat, we will.  It is really that simple.

This antiquated belief that somehow the ring wards off all the ill behavior of either sex is ridiculous.  I suspect this fella is someone who got married early in life and probably cheated like a mother fucker.  Sure, he kept her trapped in an nice life while he went out sticking his dick in anything he could.  I can’t prove that, but he did have that vibe to him.  The fact that he was so flagrantly suffering from wondering eyes on my ladyfriend, while I was right next to her, tells me that infidelity would not be a stretch for this cat.  Nonetheless, we talked about after we left and into the week about how frustrating that sort of thinking is to us.

We know we love each other and what we share is between us and us alone.  We are still working on our secret code of relationship communication, but that comes with time.  We know we don’t want to be with anyone else and that’s enough…for now.  Sure there are fantasies and all that sorta crap, but we human.  That’s life.  The trick is fumbling your way through that stuff together, talking, communicating and being honest with one another.  Look, that is no easy task, whether there is a ring on anyone’s finger or not.  You hope and pray you fall in love with the right person who makes you want to do those things, who makes you feel safe in expressing those things.  You build over time, however slowly, a mountain of trust and no ring is going to expedite that.  I’d be lying if the neanderthal in me did not come out now and again and want to get her a ring just so OTHER people know she is mine, but why?  I know she is mine and she knows I am hers.  And for now, that is enough.

We are in totally in love and totally committed to one another.  That doesn’t mean we don’t fight or get angry or frustrated with one another, we do.  But, a ring is not a panacea to everything.  Look, this not some psuedo-intellectual exercise, it’s just a rant about some sort of silly antiquated thing we’ve been led to believe we NEED to do in order to be committed to someone.  That is bunk.  I have found someone who shares a similar belief system about that stuff.

So the ring.  You know, I struggle with it and what it represents.  Right now, I have all that it represents, so what do I gain from it?  What does she gain from it?  I dunno, but I do know that someday, be it this year or ten years from now, I would eventually like to see something shiny on her left hand, but only when we both decide that it means something more than the archaic trap the dirty old man seems to think it is.

Ladyfriend, I love you.


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