Written by Sanford Begley
Rings have a long history of significance in human culture. Whether as signs of wealth or insignia, or tokens of magic and love. They are so significant in northern European culture that one of the old names for a chieftain is Ring-Breaker. That is one who breaks a ring off his arm to distribute the pieces to underlings.
We all know stories of magic rings, The One Ring from Tolkien if naught else. Legends and games have rings of invisibility, protection, and a host of other magical attributes. I think most of us would like to have a ring of detect truth or water breathing or warmth, many many things. I always knew magic rings were impossible…I was wrong
You see, I never wore jewelry. The only things I wore that were possibly considered jewelry were my watch, glasses, and dog tags. Well I did wear a class ring most of my senior year of High School, it was a thing, and a total waste of money in hindsight. And I hated wearing it.
I come from a working class background and no men in my family wore much jewelry. A ring was far too likely to get caught in a baler and result in the loss of a finger, or worse. A necklace popping out of a shirt at the wrong time in a sawmill could easily result in death. No one talked about it , it was simply family knowledge absorbed through living. Rings were for desk jockeys and women.
Included in this lack of jewelry was a lack of wedding rings. I don’t know how widespread the custom of wedding rings for men has been historically. I do know that as a youth the concept of a double ring ceremony with the man receiving a ring as well was a bit odd to me. I assumed it was a rich folk thing, or maybe a High Church thing. It didn’t happen much in my corner of Appalachia, nor did I notice a lot of it when I moved to Ohio. Then again while I lived in Ohio most of the people my family associated with were also from Appalachia. When you add in the fact that I simply never paid attention to what others wore, it may be that men’s wedding rings were more common than I knew.
As I have gotten older I have noticed that men’s wedding rings are more common than I remember from my youth. Whether this is because they were always more common than I knew or because such things became more common as society has dictated more elaborate weddings, I don’t know. I do know that among working class people there are many complaints from men that rings do not survive work and are causing injuries.
So all of this background meant that I never considered wearing a wedding ring, though there were some rings that appealed to me over the years. I usually liked silver bands with celtic knotwork or embossed fantasy images, understated rings. When we started planning a wedding for last year at Libertycon Cedar bought a ring I would like. A titanium ring with dragon knotwork. It was just supposed to be a prop. She expected me to wear it at the con and then it would go into a drawer to be brought out for certain occasions. Things didn’t quite work out that way.
I wore it for a couple of weeks to please her, putting it in my pocket when i got to work for safety reasons and taking it off when sitting at my computer at home. Then one day it fell off my hand while getting ready for work, twice. The ring is about a half size large for me, nothing of any size ever fits me like it is supposed to. Cedar told me to quit bothering with it because she knew I wasn’t comfortable with jewelry. And, after all, she only meant it as a prop in the first place.
That seemed reasonable to me, until I got to work and found myself putting it in my pocket before reaching into a centrifuge. It seems that some unconscious part of me puts the ring on before I leave the house. For a man who doesn’t wear jewelry this seems a little odd.
So I went ahead and wore it. This is when I realized its magical properties. When I wear the ring I can flirt without being taken seriously. After all, if I were serious I would hide the wedding ring. It also helped me winnow out women. You see, while not a big believer in men’s rings I have always believed in the sanctity of marriage. Any woman who seriously wanted to get together with me while I was wearing a wedding ring is not someone i would spend time with. It is a great aid in discovering a basic bit of the nature of someone you don’t know.
Besides, to filk a bit of well known poetry, it has another magic:
One ring to weld my soul and in her brightness bind me.