This is a weekly series. To read past columns, click here.
“Hello, sir. Can I help you find anything in particular?”
Eric stood just inside the doorway of a grand, brightly lit showroom. Light reflected off of every surface, from the glass display cases, to the gold and silver jewelry, to the diamonds. He gulped hard. The diamonds. He could feel the wealth in the air as he plodded over to the saleswoman who had called out to him
“Fuck me, this is going to be expensive.” He thought as he plastered a smile onto his face. He willed himself to relax. “It’s worth it. You love this girl, and you want to see her happy. And if making her happy destroys your savings, so be it. She’s worth every diamond in this room. God, that’s cheesy. I must really be freaking out. Whew. Ok, calm down. You have your budget. You know which C’s are most important. You’re going to leave here with a ring that’s going to blow her fucking mind. And that’s not the only thing that’ll get blown, if you-“
His inner monologue was thankfully cut off as he reached the saleswoman, who was looking at him with the friendly nonchalance of a woman who knows you’re about to give her all the money in your pocket. Eric forced himself to sound calm and confident. “Hi! I’d like to see your engagement rings please.”
“Oh, congratulations!” She exclaimed with an elated expression that was so practiced it seemed real. “That’s very exciting. We have many rings for you to look at, but first, may I ask a few questions to gauge what you’re looking for?” Eric nodded wordlessly, all his knowledge of carat, cut, and clarity leaking out of his brain in the face of this monstrous decision.
The woman continued. “Are you looking for a traditional diamond ring or something more unique, like a sapphire or ruby? We have a few Opal gemstones that are absolutely exquisite and are quite trendy.”
Eric stood with his mouth slightly agape, before shutting it and thinking hard. “Shit, I didn’t even realize there were other options. I don’t even know what those other rocks look like, except that rubies are red, I guess? Would Alyssa want that? No, she doesn’t like to wear red. She says it washes her skin out, whatever that means.” In a flash of brilliance, he remembered his secret weapon. Mumbling “one second” to the always-serene saleswoman, he pulled out his phone and opened his photo app. He had taken a picture of Alyssa’s jewelry box when he stole one of her rings for size, and it was coming in clutch now.
He placed the phone on the display case and swiveled it so that the attendant could see. “So, uh, this is the kind of jewelry she has. I think she’d like a diamond. Does this help give some direction?”
The woman peered inquisitively at the picture for several minutes, periodically zooming in to see detail on something. She seemed unperturbed by Eric’s method of ring shopping, leading him to believe he wasn’t the first guy to walk into the store and hand her a phone, hoping she could work her magic. Slightly bummed that his brilliant idea wasn’t actually that brilliant, Eric stood awkwardly, rocking back and forth, glancing at all the shiny jewelry laid on in front of him.
Swiveling the phone back towards Eric, the woman looked up with a smile. “Your girlfriend – I’m sorry, soon-to-be-fianceè – has excellent taste. Contemporary and elegant, het unique. She has a good eye.”
Eric beamed as she bustled off to another case and began laying some rings out on a velvet tray. “That’s damn right, my soon-to-be-fianceè has excellent taste,” he thought proudly. “That’s my girl.” A wave of emotion rushed over him, and it the idea of spending the rest of his life with Alyssa stunned him as if it was the first time he had thought of it. Suddenly, he couldn’t wait. He wanted to run home and get down on one knee right now, not in three weeks in Italy. The urge to scrap his whole plan almost overtook him, when luckily the jeweler continued, focusing him.
“Now that I have an idea of her style, I have a few questions for you regarding the cut, color, clarity, and carat. Do you have an idea of what you’re looking for, or would you like me to explain what each means?”
“Please.” Said the voice in Eric’s brain. “Like I haven’t been researching this for the last month straight. I’ve had to get an ad blocker for my laptop because I was getting served nothing but wedding ads. I know what I’m looking for.”
Externally, he nodded and spoke haltingly, remembering everything he had learned. “I’m looking for something in the two to two-and-a-half carat range with a cut that makes it look as large as possible.” He grinned, cockily. “We’re the first of our friends to get engaged, so I want something that makes all of her friends jealous.”
The woman giggled and nodded. If she found his comment douchey, it was impossible to tell. She held up a finger and walked over to a nearby case and began placing rings on a velvet tray. She returned after a few moments and placed it on the glass case in front of Eric.
“Okaaaay,” she said in a voice just above a whisper. “Here are five rings that I think would be perfect. We haven’t spoken about price yet, so I brought out a range to suit a variety of budgets. Please take your time and let me know if you have any questions or would like to see more options.” With that, she spread her hands like a blackjack dealer and stepped two large paces away, far enough away to give him space, but close enough to be available for anything he needed. She was a pro, and this was not her first rodeo.
Eric inhaled deeply and looked down at the rings in front of him. “Holy shit, these things are sparkly,” he said to himself. He flipped one over and read the price tag attached to it. “And expensive. Fuuuuck.” He glanced over to the saleswoman to see if she could sense his panic, but she was busying herself with something at another counter. He checked the tags on the other rings. They did not go down in price. He swallowed hard. He held the two that were within his budget in his hand, staring at them with an ocular intensity he usually reserved for a tray of hot wings. If he had had Cyclops’s mutant abilities, everyone in the shop would be dead from refracted lasers. That’s right. That metaphor combined science and comic book knowledge. Crushed it.
He glanced between the two rings rapidly, willing himself to have an opinion. He could tell that they looked different, he just didn’t know which one looked better. The one on the left looked bigger. But the one on the right looked nicer. Shit. He knew all the sites said that size wasn’t the most important thing, but fuck if that didn’t fly in the face of everything he had heard girls talk about. “I’ve never heard a girl go ‘damn, that ring has a great cut.’” He thought. “Size is the first thing that always comes up.” As if on cue, his eyes drifted to one of the rings still on the velvet tray. “Shit, that one looks way bigger. That’s the kind of rock where you wonder if the girl is married to a pro athlete.” He picked it up, grinned again as he thought of Alyssa wearing it. “Hah. This should let everyone know who’s boss.”
He checked the price and his grin faded. Sure, it was a little out of his price range. Ok, a lot out of his price range. But still, he wanted it. It wasn’t a logical reaction, but a visceral one. He knew instantly that his choice had been made. When he wanted something, he had to have it.
He looked up to call the woman over and saw that he wouldn’t need to. She was standing in front of him with a warm smile on her face. “Have you found something you like?” She asked, as if she couldn’t read the expression on his face. “Wow.” She continued as she saw the ring Eric was holding, as if it wasn’t the exact ring she knew he would pick. “That piece is absolutely stunning. She’s going to be the envy of all her friends.” She leaned in conspiratorially and whispered. “To be honest, I’m pretty jealous already. That’s an excellent selection.”
Eric’s smile threatened to cut his face in half. He hadn’t even bought the ring and already women were jealous of it. He spoke confidentially. “Yup, this is the one. And is it possible to split it onto multiple cards?”