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Shopping for the perfect ring (cont.)
As I pulled up a second stool beside her, I noticed her pointing to price ranges between $6,000 and $8,000. I blinked my eyes several times, convinced that my eyesight was failing me now that I was five months away from my 40th birthday. My eyes refocused. But, oddly enough, I noticed that Amy was indeed pointing to the exact same price range -- $6,000 to $8,000.
At this point, I turned to the woman whom I thought I might have accidentally mistaken for Amy. I was hoping that somehow my peripheral vision had failed me. Perhaps, I was praying, this person sitting next to me was not Amy at all, but someone who happened to be 5'4" tall, sporting a similar hairstyle.
As I turned to look directly at this woman to my left, I discovered, much to my amazement, that she indeed was my very own bride-to-be, the same one who was smiling far bigger than she should have been legally allowed to as she pointed at price ranges between $6,000 and $8,000.
To my right, on the top of a glass display case, was a bottle of champagne sitting on ice. Not wanting it to go to waste and also needing to put this engagement ring shopping into a broader perspective, I promptly poured myself some bubbly. The first couple of sips tingled as it slid over my tongue and down my throat. Before I knew it, there was more air than champagne in my glass, so I poured myself another.
"Adam, what do you think about this one?"
"Ah, well, ah, Peeps, ah, I just don't know. It's all so overwhelming."
I put the glass down, grabbed two little sugar cookies and stood up. Larry and Amy were probably wondering what my problem was.
"So listen, I think I'm going to sit over there on those leather couches in the corner and watch their infomercial which they've conveniently looped every 26 minutes. I need to get fully educated on colorlessness and clarity. You can never know too much about your colorlessness and clarity."
"Adam, what is your problem?"
"I'll just be right over there. When you're ready to go, just make sure that you don't leave me behind."
"You are so ridiculous," she said, shaking her head with a wry smile.
Oh my. $6,000-$8,000. Holy smoke. That's a lot of money. Call me naïve. Call me a fool. But I'm convinced that this whole engagement ring deal is some kind of scam that girls in kindergarten cooked up with high-end retailers as some sort of test to separate the men from the boys. Rather than get caught in that losing proposition, I figured the next best thing would be to simply excuse myself from the game entirely. Let me withdraw and watch from afar.
I called Todd afterwards and asked him a simple question. "Okay brother. What is your best guess as to what an average, non-Jennifer Lopez woman, expects their man to pay for an engagement ring? Just give me a ballpark figure."
"Alright. $2,000. Maybe $3,000."
"Ah-HA!" I declared. "Exactly."
"You're killing me McManus. How much does Amy want you to spend? "
"Oh try, $6,000-$8,000."
"What? You're kidding!"
"Oh no. Todd, I consider myself well-read. I read two newspapers a day, dozens of articles on the internet. I read upwards of 100 books a year. I travel in circles where I presume this piece of information is common knowledge. But somewhere along the way, it totally bypassed me. I mean, I must admit. I was totally clueless."
"It's not that your cheap or anything," Todd said, coming to my defense, like a good Best Man would.
"That's right. I take her to nice restaurants ever so often. I send her flowers just because I love her. But $6,000-$8,000 for an engagement ring? That price range wasn't even on my radar screen."
I think I was so traumatized by the price range that I promptly fell asleep in a bolt upright sitting position as I leaned on the armrest of the overstuffed, black leather couch courtesy of Americus Diamonds.
"Adam, I can't believe that you fell asleep. You're so funny."
"Peeps, ah, I think, ah, I think that, ah, I was a little overwhelmed back there. So, are you ready to go?"
"Yes, we can go" she said with one of her characteristic smiles. This one meant, "I love that man to pieces, but he sure drives me nuts sometimes." I know them all like the back of my hand.
After I grew accustomed to the rarified air, I chose her favorite among the nearly 12 jewelry stores that we visited. Needless to say, the oxygen mask helped.
She had very specific ideas in mind: a solitaire in a cross cathedral mount, relatively square in shape, and with a weighted bottom which helped the ring from sliding to the right or left.
I became quite the expert in diamonds over the next couple of weeks. The man who dazzled us the most with his comprehensive knowledge and candor was Dan at Stone Oak Jewelers off Loop 1604. I bought it there one day after Amy had paid Dan one last visit. I asked Dan to inscribe three lines on the inside, bottom of the ring: "I love you Peeps! -- Hebrews 11:8 -- February 14, 2006." Of course, you have to get out a magnifying glass to read it, but the two of us know it's there. And that's the important thing.
We had discovered the Hebrews 11:8 verse in the course of doing daily devotionals from "Our Daily Bread" -- our all-time favorite devotional to use.
Hebrews 11:8 says, "By faith, Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going."
Without a doubt, that verse accurately summarized our relationship. We both feel called by God to go into the world as a couple on the one hand. And yet, on the other hand, outside of our eternal destination of heaven, we don't have a clue where we're going. The key with us is the joy in the journey itself. As long as we're together, that's all that truly matters.
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