MEMPHIS--In my last installment, I talked about losing the card upon which my girlfriend wrote the serial number and description of the ring that she liked when we went window-shopping for rings in November. That was true, but I had to fudge when and where I lost it so as to keep it a secret that I was actually buying the ring much sooner than anticipated. I went back three days after we went to J.B. Robinson Jewelers to get the ring that she liked, with the intention of proposing to her when I visited on New Year's. I actually lost the card on my way to the jewelry store. But since it had been only three days, I figured that I could go on memory and get it right.
I was wrong.
The same salesman that we saw the previous Saturday was there on this Tuesday, and when I asked him about the rings we looked at before, he went under the counter to the same section of rings we were looking at. I won't get too technical about the specifics of what goes into rating a diamond, but I definitely remember that the ring my girlfriend liked had a clarity rating of VVS, which is like one or two steps below the clearest a diamond can be graded. And when I asked the salesman if that ring was the same VVS that we looked at before, he said yes, and with that, I signed the papers and took my purchase home. Only after I got home did I decide to look over the paperwork and look at the actual ring, and I don't remember what clarity the paperwork said my new ring was, but it was far below VVS. But I already took it home, and it was expensive, and it was a solitaire diamond like she wanted, and hell, she's not gonna care if it's the exact same clarity, and how could she tell anyway? But before I could lock it up in my mind that I was keeping this ring, I showed it to two people, my aunt's husband and my play cousin, and both separately reacted very, very unimpressed, like "Oh, that's nice." I decided to return the ring. If they didn't think much of the ring that I was going to propose marriage with, then the girlfriend was liable to spit in my face.
So there I was a week later sheepishly telling the salesman, "I think you sold me the wrong ring." He reacted as if he suddenly couldn't tell the difference between the rings he enthusiastically showed us before. But after I met his confusion with a look of Don't Fuck With Me, he initiated the paperwork for me to exchange rings. After searching that section of solitaire diamonds again, he informed me that the VVS was no longer there, but he could have one ordered for me and delivered within a couple of weeks. That was fine by me because I wasn't going to need it until the end of December. Fast forward another week to Tuesday, December 9, when I rushed out of my mass media class after giving my final speech and went to the jewelers. They called me a few days before and left a message saying my special order had arrived. I get to the jewelers, and there it is: a solitaire ring with VS clarity, which is a notch below VVS. I asked what happened to my request for a VVS ring, and the woman at the counter explained that they were only obligated to provide a VS quality ring at minimum for my exchange. I didn't even want to know how they came to that conclusion. She explained that they could call other stores and continue to search for a VVS, but it would take time, like a couple of weeks or so. I said fine. I made another trip a week later without a call from J.B. Robinson to check on the status of my order. Mr. Confused Jeweler from my first couple of visits was there this time, and he explained like the lady did that they are searching stores nationwide for a VVS solitaire, and it may not come in until after Christmas. And I explained again that since I wouldn't need it until New Year's, that was fine. But something got lost in the translation, and a few days later, a different man, a "diamondologist" that tried to hard-sell my girlfriend and me into making the purchase on our first visit, left me a somewhat patronizing phone message essentially saying that he didn't know if I understood clearly, but they were not obligated to provide me with a VVS ring for exchange. I returned the call and let him know that, yeah pal, I fucking understand clearly. Well, I didn't use salty language, but he got the message.
I then waited until after Christmas to get a call letting me know one way or the other that my VVS ring was or wasn't going to be delivered. No dice. So I waited until this past Monday to go to the store myself, and only because I was flying to Memphis Tuesday morning. After a half-hour wait because the lady at the counter was cleaning all 857 pieces of jewelry that some old bat brought in to be cleaned (or at least it seemed like that many), she finally got to me and recognized me by face. She said that the diamondologist guy called and left a message saying that they weren't obligated, blahblahblah, and I said I understood that. I asked were they able to find a VVS yet. She said no. I told her to give me the VS they had at the store already, and after tacking on the extra price for that ring, she wrote up the new papers, and I was finally ready to take the rock down south.
The actual proposal went off pretty much the way I planned it. Last night after spending time at a church function playing bingo and eating dry BBQ, my girlfriend and I came home to spend a quiet New Year's Eve counting down and toasting with some Sprite Zero. My plan all along was to propose right after the ball dropped, after telling her that I could only think of one better way to "ring" in 2009. The only couple of hitches were that it was a chore keeping her awake for midnight because she was so tired, and then when I was going under her couch to retrieve the ring, I had slid the box too deep underneath while hiding it, so it took literally a minute for me to dig it out, and I almost knocked over her lamp in doing so. "What in the world are you doing?" she muttered at one point. But I finally got it, she cooed and said "Awww," and I dropped to one knee and said, "I've said this before and I meant it--every day without you is a day lost, and I don't want to lose any more days. Will you marry me?" She immediately said yes.