There was a longish gap between the time I got engaged and married. Circumstances forced us to postpone the wedding from the first planned date and there was not much to do except wait. Since it was a long distance relationship (in a time zone when there were no mobile phones)often, it slipped the mind of friends that we were in fact in a relationship. Somewhere between being engaged and married, I drew a host of admirers who had not seen or met my to-be-husband. Some even thought I was making him up.
Of these boys, one was particularly charming. Since it is always flattering for any woman in a committed relationship to know there is at least one single man who still desires her, I could not bring myself to be brusque with him. However, I did the usual carrying-around-the-beloved’s- photo and dropping his name in every conversation to make clear to all where my interests lay. With the foolish certainty of youth, I was sure that the one I had selected was the only one for me and conveyed that with equal conviction.
Knowing that I would leave town in a few months, in the twilight zone that is ‘pre-marriage’ I continued to be there and not be all-there. So we all had working lunches on weekdays and went dancing on weekends. Indulged in some harmless flirting and life carried on. Until on my birthday, the afore-mentioned boy gave me a pair of solitaire earrings. We were a group of some 12 odd boys and girls, in a very public club, making as much noise as possible. Not wanting to make a fuss, after an initial round of hemming and hawing, I accepted the earrings. I was asked to put them on for all to see. They looked beautiful. They were the right size, the right cut, the right colour and they could not have been more perfect. So again, after a mild protest, I accepted them. Safely saving them for special occasions.
A few days later my wedding invitations arrived. I happily trotted off to invite all my friends. This boy took one look at the invitation and crumpled it. He went on to say that he would not come to the wedding and would in fact stay on in town and keep hoping there would not be one.
I was shocked into disillusionment. Suddenly, I could see the invisible price tag that the earrings still had on them. All along I had thought, beneath the mild flirting, we were still friends. Still well wishers.
The next day I returned the solitaire earrings via another friend and never communicated with this person again.
Those were a really gorgeous pair of earrings and I have never found another pair quite like those. Often, when my dear husband of the last fifteen odd years, gifts me a blender or an oven for my birthday I wonder if I acted in haste. A twang of ‘you, dumb one, with silly scruples’ shoots through me. But alone with myself, I wonder if the value of those earrings would ever begin to compare with the value of that blender with six attachments. And a spatula, for extra convenience.