Friday, October 14, 2011

ring cycle: Sympathy for Gollum

A friend of mine has been having a little trouble at the gym. She's young, attractive and a target for the juice heads and horn dogs who believe the men's magazines that say a health club is a great place to hook up.

Now, in their defense, I have seen a couple of middle-aged juicers walk out with some middle-aged mommies in black spandex. I'm pretty sure they weren't going for a gatorade.

Casual sex happens, I think; just not the way most people would like it to happen.

Of course, what the fuck would I know about that?

For my friend, the guys come up, they toss a line that might buy them a minute or two of somebody's time in a bar or ask some inane question meant to gauge interest. She's polite, but she's just there to hit the elliptical machine and maybe work on he arms a little. She's got a boyfriend. They're in love, live together and are one of those cool couples who don't overdo it on the cute stuff that makes me want to climb from a great height then plummet headfirst.

I may be overly dramatic here.

Anyway, she told me about it and I poked fun at her. I, too, have been chatted up on occasion; sadly, by pruney old men in their 60s and early 70s who have intensely stared at parts of me most women have never so much as glanced at in passing.

Later, I felt bad. She didn't ask for the attention. It was a legitimate problem and while I joke about the occasional old guy taking an inexplicable interest in me, it's not really as serious --or as frequent (a couple of times in four years versus a fairly regular occurrence).

Then I remembered an old trick unwed mothers used to use: they'd fake being married with a wedding band. I figured it might work on some of the guys, not all of them probably, but some of them. It might be like a bulb of garlic to vampires... well, to some vampires. Those middle aged couples I've seen hooking up: I'm pretty sure all parties involved were married, just not to each other.

Still, I thought it might help and I have a spare wedding band.

My little band of gold never really fit, which is neither the fault of my marriage or the ring, but the fault of a well-wisher who gave us an gift certificate. We turned it into a South Beach Diet book and I lost 40 pounds. I had the ring sized then gained 25 pounds back. After that, my weight yo-yoed for years. I'd go up a few pounds then come down again.

The ring stayed on a shelf where I looked at it often and tried it on every couple of months, never happy with the result.

I found the ring while I was moving furniture around last weekend. It was never lost. It just never got unpacked. I've been kind of afraid to look at it.

I know I need to get rid of it. The ring has to go. It's part of the healing, the moving on.

A long time ago, I had another ring I wanted rid of, but that was a different marriage and I was a different man. I was very angry, resentful and full of spite. So, I took it to a pawn shop, took 15 or 20 bucks for the thing and watched in horror and strange amusement as the clerk tossed the ring in a coffee can along with what seemed like a thousand others.

"Yes, you, too, are just a statistic."

I didn't want that to happen to this seldom worn ring. It seemed like it deserved better, even though gold is fetching a good price according to those assholes on talk radio. More and more I see the marriage as less of a failure and more of season in my life.

But I am often full of shit.

So, I offered my friend the ring, told her she could put it on a chain and maybe that would keep some of the pigs at bay, give her a little peace. She laughed and said, "No."

I think my gesture probably came off as more creepy than caring and thinking about it, yeah, it kind of does sound creepy; taking a ring from a middle-aged slug for the purpose of warding off other middle-aged slugs.

So, now I have this ring I don't know what to do with.

It only looks like the same problem I've always had.

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