My wedding ring wouldn’t look out of place under the bonnet of a car

Hilary Fannin: I thought this while surrounded by bejewelled women drinking wine on a flight to Malaga

‘I watched their hands lift flimsy glasses to blushed mouths, rings piled on top of one another: engagement, wedding, eternity’

‘I watched their hands lift flimsy glasses to blushed mouths, rings piled on top of one another: engagement, wedding, eternity’

 

 I temporarily lost my wedding ring. I’m always temporarily losing my wedding ring. I’ve given up getting too exercised about it. 

It’s a vaguely industrial, chunky-looking ring with several moving parts. At a push, it could be described as contemporary; in truth, it wouldn’t look out of place under the bonnet of an automobile. There was no gazing in jewellery shop windows before we chose it, or pearly tears crashing down my winsome face when I first slipped it on my willing finger. There are no diamonds involved. I was chasing two children – my own – around a very small shop on the day we bought it. I remember chubby fists and fragile display cases and someone wanting to go to the loo. 

The ring’s piston-like appearance meant it was on special offer. We bought it, and lashed home to stick on the fish fingers. 

It weighs a ton. I’m constantly taking it off, leaving it in jacket pockets or in some mouldering tub around the sink.  

I flew, ringless, to Malaga to visit my sister recently. Advantageously late checking in, I got a seat in the first row, where there’s enough leg room to swing a third of a cat, and found myself surrounded by bejewelled women, two of them next to me and a separate party of six occupying the two front rows opposite. 

They had already booked their grooming appointments in Marbella; they spoke of their immediate plans for blow-dries and waxing

The trolley came, raining white wine, miniature vodka bottles and little boxes of crisps over the bubbling party. “Cheers,” the women sang to each other, holding plastic glasses of vodka and tonic aloft in their diamond-studded hands, signalling the end of that particular purgatory known as “No Carbs Before Marbs”.

I watched from under my book. Sometimes I really want to be a different kind of woman. One of the girls.

Grooming appointments

The two women beside me were gloriously conspiratorial, speaking in drawled whispers behind their long tinted hair. I strained my ears to catch what they were saying about mutual friends, about husbands and children and kitchen islands, but it seemed that they had, over the years of their friendship, developed a kind of shorthand.

“He’ll never change.”

“Don’t.”

“You know yourself.”

“Will you stop!”

I was intrigued. I watched their hands lift flimsy glasses to blushed mouths, rings piled on top of one another: engagement, wedding, eternity, another eternity. I’m not terribly sure what co-ordinating separates are, but I suspect the women were wearing them. Black-and-white floaty things.

They were awfully well-shod. They had already booked their grooming appointments in Marbella; they spoke of their immediate plans for blow-dries and waxing, for pedicures and manicures. My own legs, stubbled from a lousy razor, were planning to leave me stumped and go on a girlie vacation with theirs.

It turned out that he had a small collection of flamenco dresses in his quiet home that he thought I might like to come over and try on sometime

One of the two women owned an apartment in Marbella, to which they were travelling. The other woman, her guest, was, after a couple of refills, hell-bent on buying her host every lotion and potion, every plumping cream and lip lavish, every exfoliating gel and rehydrating serum, the in-flight magazine had to offer.

“Will you stop! I’ve buckets of that stuff in the apartment!”

“Don’t.”

“You know yourself.”

Flamenco dresses

Involved in a Herculean struggle to remove my duffle bag from the overhead bin, I didn’t see them after we disembarked. They disappeared in a fragrant haze, towed away by efficient wheelie bags, doubtless ready to launch a neatly packed holiday capsule wardrobe.

A couple of days later, and ringless still, I was in the only bar in the small Andalusian village where my sister now lives, meeting a handful of resident expats. One among that number, a pleasant sexagenarian gentleman, replete with khaki shorts and one of those sleeveless military-type jackets with multitudinous pockets in which to store a Swiss army knife and important twigs, was gracing me with his full attention.

He issued an invitation, but, distracted by a large horse poking its head into the bar to see the football score, it took me a while to understand his proposition. It turned out that he had a small collection of flamenco dresses in his quiet home that he thought I might like to come over and try on sometime.

I never think of rings as signals, or as indicators of status – married, unmarried, vacant, engaged – but maybe, for some, their presence or absence carries deeper significance.

I decided to give the dresses a miss. I finished my cerveza and made my way back to my lodgings. On the way out, I asked the horse his predictions for the Champions League and what brand of mascara he was using.

“Ah, stop,” he said. “You know yourself.”

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