“SO. About the ring,” Yer Man started hesitantly, throwing me an anguished look.
We had just got engaged at the top of the Eiffel Tower at midnight and were sitting in a cafe nearby heating up with delicious French Onion soup.
“Oh it’s gorgeous,” I enthused.
“Ah right, that’s good. No, it’s not that exactly, it’s just, you see …”
“I mean it now, it’s gorgeous. Only gorgeous.”
“No. I won’t hear a word against it. Enough now. It’s perfect.”
“Honest to God. Swear on the Bible. I LOVE it. It’s gorgeous, look how the light sparkles off it. Even in the dark, look, when I hold it under my top, you can still see the diamonds…”
“IT’S FROM ARGOS!”
He sat back down, sweating, making an obvious effort to lower his voice, nodding apologies at the startled Parisians at the next table.
“Sorry. You wouldn’t let me get a word in edgeways. The ring. It’s not real. It’s from Argos. I wasn’t sure exactly what to get and I didn’t want to spend a fortune on a ring only for you to hate it. So I bought a dummy ring instead. When we get back to Dublin I’m taking you to buy a real one, ok?”
He looked so nervous and sorry for himself that I almost fell in love with him all over again.
“You big thick,” I told him kindly “you shouldn’t have said anything at all, I would never have known the difference. You could have gotten away with spending…?”
“€54.50,” he supplied helpfully.
“…€54.50, but now you’ll have to spend thousands.”
I shook my head sadly at him. The big thick.
On our return to Dublin, true to his word, Yer Man whisked me off around the shops to find the perfect ring, insisting he wanted me to pick a real diamond. No cubic zirconia for HIS wife-to-be, thank you very much.
A beautiful Russian girl educated us on the 4 C’s in Fields, whisking us in behind a secret curtain to try on ring after ring.
They were all stunning but nothing she brought out was ‘the one’. Princess cut, solitaires, cushion cut, square diamonds, diamond encrusted bands, all beautiful, but not for me.
We wandered further afield trying on more rings – white gold, yellow gold, rose gold. Nothing jumped out at us and we started to despair.
“Right,” Yer Man said firmly, rolling up his sleeves “there’s nothing else for it. We’ll have to go to Grafton Street.”
I could see him silently trying to commune with his credit card. Warning it. Listen up bucko, we’re off to Grafton Street. Gird your loins.
We pressed our noses to the windows of the expensive shops, looking longingly at the booty within, scarpering only when surly face security guards shooed us away.
They knew we didn’t belong.
On and on we wandered trying shop after shop but finding nothing. No quickening heartbeat. No excited intake of breath.
“Ok, we’ll try this one last place over here,” Yer Man said, pulling me across the street to a tiny antique dealers.
And there it was in the window.
Front and centre.
“That one,” I pointed out to the dark-haired assistant “that’s the one.”
It felt surprisingly heavy, but spanned my finger perfectly and fit like it had been made for me, flashing and sparkling under the bright winter sun.
Ten minutes later we were sitting in a cafe in the Stephen’s Green Centre, resting our aching feet, eating, aptly enough, rock buns and admiring our newest purchase.
“It’s absolutely identical to the Argos ring, isn’t it?” Yer Man said, sighing resignedly and reaching for the jam.
“Yep,” I answered happily, taking an enormous bite “you big thick.”