A recent excursion to Beverly Hills reminded me of the time Dr. M – she was just M at the time – and I ventured to Beverly Hills to shop for wedding rings. (I love going to Beverly Hills. It’s like visiting Monaco without getting on a plane. I’ve never actually visited Monaco, but I have a feeling that’s what it’s like. My Monaco readers can straighten me out if I’m mistaken.)
We check out the big name jewelry stores – Tiffany’s, Cartiers. We’re not really Tiffany’s-Cartiers people. We’re rarely in the market for a jewel-encrusted letter opener. We’re barely jewelry people at all. When we got engaged, M retrieved my Dad’s Masonic…something ring from my nighttable and said, “This is my engagement ring.”
It was very touching. And cheap.
The first couple of places, we didn’t see anything we liked. Too gaudy. Or too Gotti. Wedding rings Mafia wives would wear to lord over other Mafia wives.
“You see how much he loves me? You see?”
Shopping for engagement rings could be a real deal breaker. Arguments could break out. Conflict and serious re-evaluations could ensue. Questions about taste. The price. The issue of extravagance. “It’s just a ring” could end things then and there. Cancel the caterer. We’re done.
That didn’t happen with us. The experience felt fun and easy, and totally lacking in pressure. It wasn’t life and death. It was rings.
We’re about to call it day when we notice a jewelry store across the street named Fred. I’d had never heard of Fred before. The name cried “unpretentious.” I think, in reality, Fred was a fancy jewelry store too. But when you’ve never heard of it, you can fool yourself. To the ignoranti, Fred is a guy in a sweater going, “Hi. I’m Fred. You kids getting married?”
M found a simple wedding band, mounted with small, though not embarrassingly small, diamonds. I chose a narrow gold band for myself. I really liked it the best, in no way influenced by the fact that it was the cheapest ring in the store. (I brought my ring back four times for re-sizing. On my last visit, they made it clear that they didn’t want to see me there anymore.)
And there you have it. Wedding rings for two. No fuss, no muss, no screaming, no arrests.
That’s when you know it’s right?
I would have said so, Attentive Questioner. Till something happened later that really sealed the deal.
Shopping for wedding rings makes you hungry. It’s a scientific fact. We decided to celebrate our adventure with a late lunch. We chose Nate ‘N Al’s – the legendary Beverly Hills deli – delicious rye bread, heavenly mushroom-barley soup. Sometimes, celebrities eat there. Celebrities of a certain demographic. Once, I spotted Wolf Blitzer wiping sandwich crumbs from his beard. Another time, I saw Jerry Vale.
M drops me outside Nate ‘N Al’s, and drives off to park the car. (M’s the driver in the family. By choice. Hers. She’s seen me drive. It’s not happening with her in the car.)
I buy a newspaper from the newspaper-coin-box place. We like to read when we eat. Not unfriendly; it’s just our habit. I go inside. It’s, like, two-thirty. Lots of empty tables. The hostess seats me. M will be joining me shortly.
I pull out the Sports Section of the paper and I start to peruse. Suddenly, I hear this voice from the table next to me.
“Excuse me. Do you mind if I borrow your Business Section?”
I look up. It’s Milton Berle.
“Uncle Miltie!” The biggest star in the early era of television. “Uncle Miltie” wants my Business Section. So I give it to him. And he says, “Thank you.”
I am glowing, inside and out. My face is a beaming beacon of ecstasy. I’m sitting beside Milton Berle. I couldn’t have been more excited.
M enters the deli, sees where I’m sitting, heads to the table, and sits down. Then she notices my face. She knows immediately why I’m beaming.
We had just purchased wedding rings.
M squeezes my hand. How sweet, she’s thinking. My hubby-to-be is a romantic.
At this point, I give her the sideways nod. “Look over there,” it says. M looks. She sees “Uncle Miltie.” And she realizes the real reason for my glow.
Was she mad?
She was as excited as I was!
That’s when you know it’s right.