I stopped by a store this afternoon to pick up something for W. While I was finishing my transaction, a gentleman walked up to the counter and asked to exchange a ring that he had purchased earlier in the day.
“My friend says it’s a woman’s ring,” he said.
The man looked like he was in his fifties. He was wearing a Philadelphia Eagles cap, a plain navy blue jacket and a Band-Aid in the middle of his chin. He was Asian and spoke slowly and with a heavy accent.
“Where are the men’s rings?” he asked.
The store manager tried several different ways to explain that the store did not sell men’s rings and women’s rings.
“Both men and women shop at this store and buy these rings,” he tried, waving his hand across the display like Vanna White.
“Where are the men’s rings?” the man repeated.
I wanted to yell out “unisex, he is trying to tell you that the rings are unisex,” but the longer I waited, the word “unisex” started becoming weird and vulgar and dirty as it rattled around in my head.
At some point in the discussion about men’s rings and women’s rings, the manager interjected that women really like men who wear jewelry, but that didn’t seem to help either. Well, Liberace certainly had his fans, I thought. But then what do I know about guys and girls and jewelry.
The ring that the man had purchased during his previous visit to the store was very large and ornate with a big round blue stone in the middle. Too girly for me, I thought, because that’s how I am. It looked odd on him — not because it was feminine but because he didn’t look like the kind of man who wore jewelry. Maybe a plain gold wedding band, but that was about it.
As I was leaving the store, the man had agreed to swap the ring that he had purchased for another ring that was similar but had a rectangular stone. I suppose it looked more manly, more like a man’s ring. The manager had tried to sell him on a ring with a fake eyeball in the middle. Evidently, nothing says arm curls and Old Spice like an eyeball ring, but the man wasn’t buying it.
While I walked to my car, I wondered if the man would have returned to the store if his friend had told him that the ring was ugly or clashed with the color of his eyes. I thought about how we place so much emphasis on what is appropriate for men and what is appropriate for women.
In the end, a ring is a ring. Pink is just a color, and so is blue.
And if you like it then you should put a ring on it and call it your own.