I’ve struggled with a bad habit for years now.
No, not hookers and blow. That was so last week.
My bad habit is, I play with my wedding ring, almost compulsively.
See, years ago, some wise old (married) gent advised me to buy my band big. The reasoning was that I wasn’t going to keep my svelte, boyish figure forever, and I didn’t want to have to get my ring sized up to match my waistline.
So I bought up.
Trouble is, I didn’t grow. I shrank. I was … how do you say it … fat when I tied the knot nearly 17 years ago. Now I’m … less fat. Not braggin’. Just sayin’.
So my ring, which was big to start, is huge now.
Years ago, my wife and I were at a friend’s backyard BBQ. After tossing a football around, I glanced down and saw my ring, the symbol of my undying love for my beautiful bride, was gone. Casually, I strolled around the yard trying to find it.
Before long, my wife saddled up and asked what I was doing. I guess I wasn’t as casual as I had thought and was instead walking a grid, as I’m sure I had read the CSI crew does to process a crime scene.
Pressed, I confessed, and, after a brief search, she found my ring. I haven’t heard the end of it since.
A couple of years ago, I came inside after hanging Christmas lights and, again, my ring was gone. I eventually tracked it down; it had slid off as I put lights on the kids’ playset and was trapped between the wooden frame and the tarp roof. I’m still not sure how I found it.
There have been many, many other near losses before and since.
Anyone with half a mind would get the ring sized down, but not me, which should tell you exactly how big my brain isn’t. Maybe I’m afraid middle-age spread will accelerate as soon as the ring fits, or maybe I was so impressed by my dad’s gazillion tellings of how he lost his wedding ring early in his marriage — trust me, there aren’t enough electrons in the World Wide Web to do his version of the story justice — that I, too, want to lose mine so I’ll have a way to bore my kids to tears in the years to come.
Which brings me to that bad habit I was telling you about.
I like to slide my ring off and play with it whenever I get the chance: at work (once, I distinctly recall it rolling down my leg at our old office, rolling down the hall, then bouncing — ping, Ping, PING — down the stone staircase before twirling to a stop beneath a potted plant, just outside The Boss’ office), at church, waiting in line, at the grocery story, stuck in traffic. Especially stuck in traffic.
In my wife’s car, I like to flip it through the hole in the bottom of the steering wheel and try to catch it just in front of the horn. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve missed and had to dig it out from the (Camry-recall defective) floor mats after I’ve parked in the garage.
Worst of all, I like to play with it as I wait at stoplights on my bike.
I’ll slip it off, flip it around, put it on my thumb, twirl it, put it back on. OCD (or ADHD or AD&D or SOB or BYOB) as I am, the pattern has to be symmetrical, or it bugs me until the next stop light, so I find myself frantically trying to get the pattern just right before the light turns green.
And every time, I envision the darned thing — “I give you this ring, as a sign of my love, and with all that I have, and all that I am, I will honor you,” I believe were the words (they’d better be, or I’m in capital-t trouble) we exchanged before I put the ring on for the first, but oh-so-not-the-last, time — rolling off, ping-pinging down the road, rolling intro traffic and, depending on the intersection, either under the wheels of a speeding 18-wheeler or straight down a storm drain.
And the thing is, I can’t stop myself.
So, if ever you drive up to an intersection, see a bike haphazardly tossed to the side and a man frantically dodging traffic, sticking his head under stopped cars and peering into storm drains, give a little honk and wave, would ya?
Better yet, put ’er in park and give me a hand looking for my ring.
I’ve got a marriage to save.