Letters to Holly

Tuesday, February 13

One Ring to Baffle Them All

I go shopping for Your Sister's requested ring yesterday after work. I check some websites of large jewelery franchises to see about prices, but I know what she asked for -- a square or triangle cut red stone on a yellow gold band --wouldn't cost that much. I hit the Asheville Mall and find nothing. All of the main stores are loaded with diamonds or gaudy rings with too much glitter. Imagine a nine-year-old armed with a bedazzler unleashed in a Zales or Helzberg. That's what I see in every jewelry store. Valentine's Day is when they move the blinding crap, apparently. I try the department stores with no luck again.

They have some nice stuff, just not what she asked for. Your Sis wants a ring, not earrings or a necklace or a bracelet. And if the stone I find was the right color, it was cut into a heart or an oval. Does this mean she's [Boston accent] pahticulah[/Boston accent]? Not to an unreasonable degree. The stores are clearly selling to the procrastinating male hoping cumbersome items would make them feel like they successfully pulled a winner out of their ass.

I consider the fashion jewelry, that plastic blocky stuff they don't put behind the counter. Rings and necklaces for $10. I almost buy her $100 worth of it so she could pimp out on the weekends. I even look at the kiosks selling guido jewelry, but I pass on the piled-high necklaces and wristwatches the size of a basketball.

After an hour, I leave and try the Biltmore Mall. This is a spooky place. It's depressingly empty of consumers or stores, and the flickering fluorescent lights suggest a horror movie is about to break out. The Belk's wing is virtually abandoned, and only once you approach the food court do you see signs of life. I find something close to what she had asked for at their Zales, and I take phone pictures to send to her. This is part of our deal. While waiting for her response, I go to the store across the corridor (forgot the name) and find rings that are also close to what she described. But they are larger in size, approaching diva size. I don't think she'd like that, and before I could debate further with myself, she calls to say she liked the first ring. Well, OK then. I'll go buy it, I say.

And back to Zales I go. I tell the man I'd like that ring resized to her dimension and hand him her wedding ring, given to me for just this need. He says the ring I picked is much larger (a 7, where hers is a 5 3/4), and that it would need to be sent off to be resized. They can do it in a week, he says. No thanks, I say. We need the ring Wednesday.

I go back to the other store and ask about one of their diva rings. Both are handed to me, and different discounts are mentioned. I pick one I think she'd like most, note the fair price for it, and ask for it in the size of the wedding ring. I show it to the saleswoman for another measure, and she asks how I manged to get her wedding ring. Oh, I assure her, my wife instructed me to get this right. She notes the size and says the ring I picked would have to be sent off to be resized. Stores only carry rings in one size, seven. I didn't know this. A week, she says. So it's the same as with Zales, and Your Sis would have no ring for Valentine's Day. I wanted her to have something to show the other teachers Wednesday. I know half the fun of getting gifts is the comparisons over lunch. She had to have something.

I call her and ask what she wants to do. Maybe we can buy the ring, have her wear it for a few days, and then send it off for resizing. Let's wait, she says. Let's put of this ring off for another day, maybe a birthday. I know she's backing off the request. She's telling herself the inconvenience is a sign she shouldn't have asked for it. She's falling back to monasticism. OK, I assure her, but you have to get something. A big bag of M&Ms, she says. The Valentine's kind. Are you sure? She's sure. OK, we'll skip the ring, and I'll get the candy when I can find it and be home after that. Love you, bye bye. And I walk right back to Zales and order the ring.

It's a good price for a good stone and setting. I'm happy with the find, satisfied that I finally found it after all the searching, and proud that I'm doing a good thing. She'll be surprised, and the ring will only be a week late. And as I sign the receipt the salesman says, oh by the way, the ring will take two weeks. The guy who picks up rings for resizing only comes on Mondays, and he already left.

You goddamn monkeyfucking bastard. I say in my mind, of course. Out loud, I say, OK, I understand, sure. But next week's a federal holiday. No problem, The Monkeyfucker says. The courier doesn't skip on federal holidays. I'll have the ring on the 26th, he says. The 26th, I repeat. Yes, he says. I thank him, internally curse his genitals with flying pliers, and leave with ring paid for and ordered at her size.

I find the candy at Ingle's, arrive home to find a mug of beer waiting for me for all the trouble, and I tell her abut the ring, including the fact that I ordered it anyway. She's shocked, in a happy way. I tell her about Monkeyfucker, and we agree that this makes three times jewelry stores have fucked us over. All different, but each changing the purchase details once the order has been made. When I bought her engagement ring, the downtown Asheville store demanded all the payment before I could take the ring home, despite what the saleswoman told me. When she bought my wedding ring, the downtown Mayberry store jacked up the price as she arrived to pick it up. And now this.

I assure her I'm divorcing my frustration with them from her request for the ring. I don't want this to discourage her asking for specific things. Next time, I ask, tell me earlier what you want. And why doesn't a jewelry store employ someone who can resize or transplant stones on site? How many sales are lost because of this? My grouchy-sense suspects they pretend to send away the ring so a cheap replacement can later be handed to me. The store sells plastic crap for the price of the stones and never loses the expensive inventory. But I'm a cynical man, and the beer goes to my head quickly. And I'm hungry for the M&Ms.

We eat the weekly buffalo wings (made this time with honey, and they're good, ja), watch "Six Feet Under" and Colbert, and call it a night.

Picture of the Day
This person makes art out of Rubik's Cubes. I assume he has to rotate the block sides, although he could just remove and replace the stickers.

No comments: