08 January 2013

Gold Rings

So I had great good intentions over the holidays. I was going to write these ongoing blog posts about the Twelve Days of Christmas, Pipers piping and Maids a-milking and all; I even had a whole post planned out about the value of Gold Rings and what-not. And I was going to wrap up with a grand finale on Twelfth Night itself, perhaps inserting a few witty references to Shakespeare's play (the storyline of which has nothing whatsoever to do with the holiday, but was probably written to be performed at a Twelfth-Night party) and waxing eloquent about my favourite version with Imogen Stubbs, Helena Bonham-Carter, and Ben Kingsley. But then time, as it is wont to do, whizzed away from me. Zzzzip.

And here we are, a whole week into the new year, a couple of days into the new semester; textbooks staring me in the face, and the demands of ordinary life just as demanding as ever. My good intentions are once again chipped away, and nothing came of them.

But, wait! Maybe I can insert something in here about gold rings. You see, on the fifth day of Christmas (aka December 29th) my true love is supposed to have given me five gold rings. And then another five every day thereafter, until you have a stash of forty of the things on January 5th, Twelfth Night.

Well, for some reason my man tends to be somewhat remiss on his seasonal ring-gifting duties. I have all of three gold rings to my name, after twenty-three years of marriage. Two of those were from him, 'tis true enough. With the third gold ring I have I'm not even sure it's the real thing - it's got no stamp in it telling its carat weight, and the "pearl" that is set in it turned out to be a fake - the sheen is flaking off, exposing the plastic underneath. It belonged to my aunt, who wore it almost always, and when she passed away I asked for the ring to remember her by. So I don't care how much actual gold is in that ring; to me, it's my aunt's ring, and that's worth more than 24-carat realness. Her love was as genuine as they come.

But my other two rings, they're real gold alright, 14k, or 585, the stamp says. (I think 585 is the parts per thousand of gold to other metals - i.e. 58.5% gold, which means the same as 14 carat.). And then there's the diamonds. Ten of them, 0.1 carat each - that means I'm wearing a full carat of diamond on my finger, no? Well, uh - no, it doesn't. Apparently decimal math doesn't apply to jewels. Ten tiny diamonds are just ten tiny diamonds, and even together they're worth a lot less than one great big one ten times their size. And then, to boot, one of them is chipped. You see that in the picture? The first one from the left, it's got a little notch chipped out of it on the top right corner. I'm not sure how long that flaw has been there - years, at any rate. I have no idea how it happened, either.

And I don't care. You see, just like my aunt's fake pearl ring, what matters with my gold rings is not the perfection of the jewels, or of the setting, or even the purity of the gold. A Turkish friend of mine used to sneer at any gold that was less than 18 carat - all Turkish gold is at least 18 carat, she said. And brides get literally loaded with it on their wedding day, in the form of bracelets and necklaces and rings; it's their widow's portion. But I'm not Turkish, and my rings are not my retirement fund. The chips and scratches and impurities, they don't matter - they just go with who I am.

Just like me, my gold rings have flaws in them, aren't perfect. There's only two (or maybe three) of them, not forty like the song calls for (or even five, if you want to go for the conservative reading of the lyrics instead of the cumulative one). And that's plenty for me, thank you. Large numbers, and perfection, are, I think, quite overrated. My ring is chipped and flawed, and so am I. I can't even write a series of blog posts during my holidays even though I've decided to do so. And maybe that's okay, you know?

Life, the Universe, and Three Gold Rings. Even though they're flawed, they still are real.

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