Sunday, July 08, 2012

Loath to Desire: The Ring

When friends were getting class rings in high school, I couldn't imagine asking my parents to spend so much money on a Jostens ring that wouldn't even be something I would want to wear past high school. I don't know how much of my thinking came from money guilt issues, and how much came from knowing that I didn't really like the rings and knew they were very temporary items.  

I got the idea from a friend to see about getting some sort of gemstone ring instead.  Something that I would enjoy wearing long-term, and that would have lasting value.  I did ask my parents about this idea, and they had agreed to do that for me.  I had tried on some rings various times when I was at the mall with friends, and had some ideas about what I would like, but all of them seemed like too much to ask for.

One day I was in our local jewelry store in our town, and I found a beautiful pearl-and-diamond ring that I really, really, really loved.  I tried it on, loved it even more, and when trying to understand the various numbers handwritten on the price tag, the salesperson told me it was something like $85.  That was way less than anything I was expecting it to be, and was less than any other rings I had seen at other stores.  I drove home to tell my parents about this ring.  My father seemed excited to go back to the store with me to get the ring.  I could see the strain on my mom's face, and I felt bad to even be asking for a ring at all.  But by then the request was known, and my dad took me back to the store.

Once we got there and I tried it on, I commented to the (different than the first) salesperson that I had seen it earlier in the day and was so surprised that it was only $85!  I then got the awkward news that the first salesperson had misread the numbers on the price tag.  It wasn't $85.  It was considerably more.  :(  My dad told me it was ok, and bought me the ring, and he was really nice about it and seemed pleased to be able to do that for me.  But it stuck with me that I never would have asked for it or even told him about it if I thought that it would be as much as it was, and I knew that my mom was stressing that my dad had gone ahead and spent money on the ring.  I felt bad to have made something happen that they clearly weren't in agreement about and that my mom was uncomfortable with.  I imagine that they probably had real pressing needs that those funds should have gone to.  I felt bad that she might have had to struggle even more than usual because that money was spent on me.  As an adult, I feel even worse about it, knowing how much my mom was probably going without while that non-essential purchase was made.

So, even though my dad did such a nice thing for me, it left me feeling at least vaguely ashamed for asking for something frivolous.  I have absolutely continued to feel this way about optional expenditures in my adult life.

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