I don’t usually give much thought to my wedding rings. After nearly 20 years, they are just a fixture on my left hand, like a part of my body. I only take them off once a year, at Christmas, when I make the cookie dough that has to have the last 3 cups of flour mixed in by hand. For 10 minutes, they reside in a bowl on the kitchen counter, until the cookie dough is mixed and my hands are washed. The other 525,590 minutes a year, they are on my hand.
|My rings, on Rapunzel's cord.|
I miss having them on my hand, and as a result, I now think about them a lot – they are made noticeable by their absence. It doesn’t surprise me that I’m aware of their absence. What does surprise me is that strangers, especially men, seem to notice their absence.
Oh, not that they say “you aren’t wearing wedding rings.” But I’m fascinated by the subtly different way men interact with me now that I’m not wearing wedding rings. Clerks in stores are mildly flirtatious. Nothing offensive or overt; indeed, it almost seems like a reflex. But a reflex that didn’t happen when I wore wedding rings.
Then there was the man at work who offered to share his umbrella to the front door one recent rainy morning. I didn’t think much of his chivalrous gesture (though as a rule, men stride by me making for the front door of the building), until we got on the elevator and he made eye contact, said “I’m John Smith,” and extended his hand. There was no graceful way to not complete the introduction. He then proceeded to make conversation. Not small talk, but actual conversation.
Now, you must understand that this is entirely counter to elevator culture at my workplace. People occupy themselves with their smart phones or stare at the walls. Passing the occasional remark on the weather, the day of the week (“Almost Friday!”), or the sloth-like pace of the elevators is acceptable, but generally eye contact is not made, and unless you are riding with someone you know, actual conversation is Not Done. So by the time I’d reached my office, I had come to the conclusion that he had been ever-so-gently hitting on me. Like the store clerks, only a bit more focused, a bit less reflexive.
Then there was the waiter the other night, when Chris and I grabbed an opportunity to go out to dinner without the girls, who asked at the end of the meal, “One check or two?” I can’t remember the last time a waiter asked us if we wanted two checks. But apparently man + woman without wedding rings = date = possible two checks. Or perhaps, given Chris was wearing his ring, the equation was man wearing wedding ring + woman without wedding rings = illicit tryst = two checks, the better to conceal our date from his wife…
The upshot of it is, I feel less invisible to men without my rings. It’s a curious sensation, the resulting attention. Flattering, but also sort of surreal. On the whole, I’ll be glad when I can get my rings over that knuckle and wear them where they belong again.