The Engagement Ring and the Faux Beau

A single gal's field trip

Several times a week, I drive by the World's Biggest Engagement Ring Store. It's on my way to Pilates class, my favorite little coffee place and the grocery store. The building is hard to miss. There's a monolithic, ring-shaped structure out front. On many days, I barely notice it. On other days, I sense the big ring mocking me. And I recall the precise moment my mother handed me the book How to Marry after 35 and with a straight face ‑- no, a sincere face ‑- uttered the words, "I thought you could use this."

Did I mention I'm only 33?

Which is why I recently paid a visit to the World's Biggest Engagement Ring Store. No, not to torture myself, but rather to demystify what it must be like to get engaged. To have the man you love (possibly) get down on one knee and tell you he wants to spend the rest of his life with you. To have him present you with a glittering piece of jewelry that society (and not-so-subtle advertising) tells us probably cost two months' salary. To then have a story about how he proposed that you can tell over and over while people admire your left hand and the ring that now resides there. I have yet to experience any of this for myself, so I decided it was time to take matters into my own hands.

And so I boldly go where (I assume) no 33-year-old single gal has gone before. Up the front steps, through the double doors and into the lush interior with its pristine cases of sparkling jewelry and oversized photos of smiling couples along the walls. Instantly I feel like an imposter. But there's no time to turn and run as I'm welcomed by a cheery young man who invites me to look around while he locates a sales associate. It's then that I realize I should probably get my story straight.

I recall a recent jewelry ad directed at single professional women like me. I believe the exact verbiage was: Your left hand says we; your right hand says me. Women of the world, raise your right hands. And while I'm footloose and fancy free of a romantic entanglement at the moment, I'm far from thumbing my nose at an institution I think I'd like to join someday. So I quickly concoct a different story ‑- one that involves a "we."

And just in the nick of time, as my sales associate Merry approaches.

"My boyfriend suggested I go ring shopping," I hear myself say. "You know, to see what I like."

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