Put a ring on it…I need the extra money.

I don’t wear a wedding ring.

A fact that is frequently pointed out to me by various acquaintances – most recently last Tuesday while getting my hair cut.  Such queries have varied subtexts of meaning that generally fall into one of three categories:

The concerned:  “When did you stop wearing your ring?”  i.e., When did you decide to give up on your marriage?

The righteous:  “I wouldn’t wear one either.”  i.e., I am down with your empowered attitude towards the misogynistic institution of marriage and its subjugation of women.

The reproach:  “I wouldn’t go anywhere without my ring.”  i.e., Whore.

The reason that I don’t wear a wedding ring is much less satisfying in its lack of drama.  It is not indicative of the state of my marriage, nor of any feminist-political stance regarding the institution of marriage itself and/or the role of women in society.  Nor of any predilection towards extra-marital sex.

Seriously. I have no desire to expand beyond ONE the number of individuals allowed to see me naked for purposes other than a medical procedure.  If love and commitment to a pretty swell partner doesn’t inspire faithfulness on my part, the sheer terror of being naked in front of a stranger does the trick.  There is no amount of soft lighting that can hide the effects on my thighs of three kids and a fondness for salted butter.

It should be noted that I am also frequently bra-less and barefoot in long skirts while wearing a babushka, but I am neither vegetarian nor interested in moving to a commune.  And despite the beliefs of those who might glimpse me only in passing, neither am I an elderly Russian peasant.  First impressions are wholly unreliable.

I don’t wear a wedding ring because we were broke.

Well, actually, at first I didn’t wear it because I worked at a restaurant and kept losing the diamond in the refried beans.  Then because I never wore it, I forgot where I put it.  And then, in a stroke of opportune timing, I found it on the same day we got a shutoff notice from the gas company.

So I pawned it.

Consumer’s Energy was a hundred bucks richer, the car had gas, and there was enough left over for the kids to go to Applefest.

Not exactly the price fetched by the Hope diamond, but it got the job done.

And let me just say, the pawn shop does for your feelings of financial despair, what the beach does for your body image.  It reminds you that there is always someone in worse shape than you are.

That was ten years ago.  I would like to report that our financial planning aptitude has grown in the interim years – beyond selling off our worldly goods piece by piece – but not so much.

We routinely rob Peter to pay Paul.  And then mug Paul to pay back Peter.

And when Peter and Paul are tapped out, and we can’t extort any more cash from our kids, we borrow from our 401K.

Ah, the circle of life.

For the exasperated shoppers in line behind me at grocery store waiting for me to write a check for a pack of gum and a gallon of milk, these revelations regarding our perpetual insolvency would come as no surprise.

So anyone who was concerned about the state of my marriage due to my bare ring finger, never fear.  Poor cash flow and a house so underwater it merits a periscope is the bedrock of our marital bliss.

No wedding ring could possibly embody that kind of commitment.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go return bottles.  The car needs gas.


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