Ring of ire

Jim and I were married very young. In fact, I was so young, my dad had to sign my life away for me in order for us to obtain a marriage license.

Being married so young means I missed out on learning many of the things young single women learn early on in adulthood. One of those things, a skill I've noticed of late I'm seriously lacking, is the ability to reflexively scan the left hand of those of the opposite sex immediately upon meeting them to see if there's a wedding ring.

I didn't learn to do that. I've never had reason to do it, never did it enough -- ever, actually -- for it to become a conscious or unconscious part of my getting-to-know-you ritual upon meeting someone new. Yes, it's lately become all too clear to me that if I were a dog, I'd surely be a lonely one as the whole sniffing out of potential mates simply and surely is not a part of my makeup.

And why should it be? I have Jim ... have for pert near 30 years ... so there's no reason for me to scan the hands of men.

But I've found in the last few weeks that my lack of ring-searching ability is a detriment -- especially when it comes to sniffing out potential mates for my single daughters. (Shh...don't tell them; they don't know I do that.)

Just last week a charming young man, part of the team that cleaned my chimney, spent enough time in my home and enough time making interesting small talk with me that afterwards I thought, "Hmmm...that's the kind of kid I would sure be happy to have as a son-in-law."

When I told Jim about him, he asked me if the young man was married.

"How the heck am I supposed to know?" I replied indignantly. "I'm not so desperate for a decent mate for my daughters stupid as to come out and ask such a thing."

"Well, was he wearing a ring?" Jim asked, as if he's so cussing smart.

Oh ... a ring. I never looked. Honestly, it never even crossed my mind to look.

It never crosses my mind to look at the left hands of women, either. Which wouldn't normally be an issue because, like I said, I am married ... and straight. But Jim and I have been trying to figure out if one particular couple at church -- a couple we've been loosely acquainted with for years, a couple about our same age, who have been married about as long we have and have kids near the same age as ours -- are, sadly, separated, possibly getting a divorce. They're never seen together anymore, and Jim insists there's a problem; I insist the husband likely just works on Sundays and can't make it to church.

"Is she still wearing her wedding ring?" he asked yesterday, again playing the smart guy.

We both spied out of the corner of our eyes while singing. Yes, she's still wearing her ring.

After getting no clear answer on the divorce question, Jim and I returned whole hog to the singing and praising and all those other things you do at church. Until he leaned over and nudged me.

"Hey, she's got a ring on her finger," he whispered, nodding toward the young woman in front of us, a gal we've known for some time, who was sitting mighty close to her new beau.

"That doesn't mean anything. People wear rings on that finger all the time," I whispered back.

He shrugged like a smartcuss who has a secret.

I leaned over and whispered quite forcefully, "That's why it's called <ahem> a ring finger."

Ha! Now who's the smarty pants?

I'm just crossing my fingers now, hoping that next time we see her dad he doesn't announce that his little girl is engaged. If he does, I'm pretty sure Jim's sure-to-follow smirk will make me want to smack him.

Or take the ring off my ring finger and throw it at him.

On second thought, maybe I won't throw my ring at him. For with an empty ring finger, I may be immediately dubbed a single woman by those quick-on-the-draw folks who check for such things.

And Lord knows I would completely cuss at being a single woman ... because I'm so darn handicapped at sniffing out potential mates.

Photo: follmann/stock.xchng

Today's question:

How many rings do you typically wear on an average day?