Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Trash Compactors, Diamonds & Metal Detectors

This morning I wake up at 5 something and the first thought of my day is trash compactor!

Yes, I said, trash compactor! Last night before going to bed I posted a Craigslist ad to sell a trash compactor and this morning I wake up realizing that I don't have a trash compactor, I have a garbage disposal!

The first business of the day was to edit my Craigslist ad and hope no one was getting too excited about buying a trash compactor.

So I have this great garbage disposal for sale, brand new, never used and a great price. The thing sat in the kitchen of our old home for almost 2 years. We had planned to install it someday but someday never came and we ended up selling the home instead.

As I'm sitting here thinking about this garbage disposal, the thought of how to install one comes to mind. Then I start to think about stuff being chewed up in a garbage disposal which makes me think about all the stuff people lose down their kitchen drains, which makes me then think about the sewer and that brings me to a story with-in a story about my Big Guy.

My Big Guy has to be the luckiest person I have ever met. If he buy's a lottery ticket, the majority of the time he wins. If he listens to a radio giveaway and calls in, he usually wins. If he puts his name in a drawing at the annual Christmas party where he works, his fellow workers end up hating him because, he wins!

He is also lucky when it comes to finding things. Like the time he was working for the city sewer department and started bringing home all sorts of strange things. He found spoons, cell phones, crescent wrenches, a diamond ring, money, costume jewelry and a diamond ring, oh wait I already said that didn’t I!

Yes, he found a diamond ring!

When he came home excited and couldn’t wait to show me his bounty for the day, I did what I normally do when I'm not really interested in his findings and patronized him, “Nice Hon, yeah, neat stuff!” as I continued doing whatever it was I was doing. 

Then he dangled something between his giant man fingers, quickly in front of my face; just a glimpse to tease, and stated proudly, “And now for the coop de’ gras!”

“What is that? That can’t be real?” I scoffed as he finally displayed the entire ring. I carefully lifted the tiny gold band, which held at least eight large baguette diamonds, from his huge palm. It was really pretty and any normal woman would have immediately put it on her finger but I’ve never been normal. I examined it closely, holding it up to the light to see if anything was written inside the band and really not knowing how to tell if it was real or just pretty costume jewelry, I asked, "Where did you find this?"

"In the sewer near a retirement community." he chuckled. I held the ring slightly farther from my face as I repulsed at the thought of where it had been, then seeing that I didn't think much of his answer he assured me that he had cleaned it well.

"Well don't be disappointed to find out it's fake." I cautioned him. "I mean really, look at the size of these diamonds, it can't be real!"

He gave me one of those smug looks like so many times he had before. I always had to be right about everything and this time wasn't any different. But neither of us really knew much about jewelry, especially me.

I had never been interested in jewelry which could be the Tom Boy in me and as a child, the first piece of real jewelry I knew about was the pearl ring my grandfather gave my grandmother when he proposed. It was a gold band that had lattice wrapped around a small cultured pearl. The pearl was almost pink in color and even though it wasn’t an expensive ring, when grandma told the story of how grandpa proposed, that made the ring worth more than all the gold in the world.

When my Big Guy proposed to me, there was no ring and funny thing, I didn't notice. It wasn't until we had chosen a wedding date and started making plans which included other people that I finally realized I had no engagement ring. My friend Lori was the one who noticed and of course to this day she is still the one friend who I can count on to point out any worthy piece of jewelry someone is wearing. God gave her the gift to know the cut, color, clarity and carat weight of any diamond from 20 feet away.

So after realizing I had no engagement ring, I approached my Big Guy Groom and asked him what we should do about it. Since he is a spontaneous person, we found ourselves at a small jewelry store with-in the hour and after telling the clerk we were going to be married, we were looking over trays and trays of every engagement ring and wedding band imaginable.

As we began to sort through the rings I looked at the clerk and asked if any of them had pearls and by the look on the fella's face, you would've thought I had just informed him that the diamond exchange had crashed.

He reluctantly pulled out a small tray which held several pearl rings. I tried to tell him the story of my grandparents engagement but he didn't seem too interested. I found out later that it was probably due to the fact that he was not going to make as much money from the sale of a pearl compared to a diamond but for us it worked out better anyway since at that time we we poor college students with very little income.

Looking over the tray, I had hoped to find a ring that was like my grandmothers but none were even close and then I saw it, a ring that was different than all of the rest. It was a thin gold band acting like the stem of a lily that wrapped around the finger. Inside of the lily was a small, slightly oblong shaped pearl and a very tiny diamond was on the side where the flower closed near the stem. It was beautiful! 

I wore the ring home that day and couldn't wait to share it with everyone who I knew and even some I didn't know. The response I got, however, was not what I expected. When I held it up to show to a girl seated next to me in my first morning class, she asked if it was my birthstone. Another girl thought it was cute and wanted to know when I would be getting my diamond. When I finally showed it to my friend Lori, she examined it carefully and then told me it was pretty and knowing me as well as she did, that was all that needed to be said.

I wore it proudly and the only time I took it off was when my Big Guy Groom needed it so he could give it back to me during our wedding ceremony. It also doubled as my wedding ring and I didn't understand the tradition of having two different rings anyway.

On New Years Eve later that year, we were on the dance floor of a party place back home known as The Rock Quarry, when I looked down at my hand and to my horror realized that the pearl in my lily was gone. We made everyone stop dancing and turned on the main lights while we searched on hands and knees until we were satisfied that it was not there. I was so sad that my beautiful pearl had not been found. 

Later, when we went back to the jeweler and told him what had happened, he suggested the pearl had been crushed and that was why we would've never found it. He offered to sell us another pearl and after looking through what seemed like hundreds of the lovely opalescent orbs, I finally found one that would fit into the lily. It wasn't the same; it looked more like a light bulb sticking out but I wore it because it was the thought behind the ring that mattered most. With-in 3 months that pearl had fallen out too and rather than go through the loss of yet a third pearl, I placed the ring back in it's little blue box and to this day I only take it out when someone asks to see my engagement ring. And in case you are wondering, yes I have a wedding ring that I wear every day but that's another story with-in a story.

So back to the sewer ring that I have now decided to try on my finger.

"It must've belonged to a woman with very tiny fingers." I told my Big Guy as I realized it would only fit good on my pinkie. "It is kind of pretty, what do you think?"

He looked at me and grinned, "I think we need to have it appraised." Holding out his hand and gesturing with one finger, I slipped it off and gave it back.

The next morning after my Big Guy had left for work, I noticed the ring sitting on his night stand and slipped it on my pinkie finger again. He had polished it up a little more and the diamonds, if they really were diamonds, sparkled so brightly it had me mesmerized. Later that day, while going to the post office to check the mail, I looked at my hand and realized I was still wearing the ring. This made me think about what my Big Guy had said about having it appraised. There were plenty of jewelry stores with-in a block so I decided to visit one. After all, if the ring proved to be fake, I could let him down easy and tell him I loved it just the same and if it was real, he would be happy to know he scored big. Who knows, it may be worth more than the vintage key chain he found one morning while digging for worms and ended up selling on EBay for $60!

The young woman who waited on me at the jewelry store was very happy to see the ring when I extended my hand, but when she asked where it had been purchased, not wanting to explain it's probable disgusting journey down a sewer, I just told her it was a gift from my husband.

I asked if it could be cleaned and then also if there might be a way to find out it's value according to today's market. She had no problem accommodating me and asked that I leave it for her Jeweler to see. He would be back after lunch and I could retrieve it anytime there after.

Lunch was over and I headed back into the jewelry store to find the girl who had helped me, wearing the ring on her own pinkie finger. With some slight embarrassment on her face she slipped it off and handed it to me, explaining that she just had to share it's beauty with another customer. I wasn't in the habit of spending much time in jewelry stores so I never questioned her intentions but was eager to find out about the rings value.

The conversation went something like this:

Me (trying not to look too anxious): "So, the Jeweler, did he have a chance to take a look at the ring?"
Girl (wearing a big smile): "Yes he did and cleaned it up really nice, don't you think?"
Me (still not wanting to look too anxious): "So, he was able to give an estimate of it's sale value?"
Girl (looking somewhat hesitant now): "Hmmm...let me have him talk to you about that. "

Then she went to the back of the store and disappeared.

I wasn't sure if the "Hmmm" meant, "Hmmm, should I tell her its a fake and her husbands a jerk!" or if it meant something else.

With-in seconds a friendly smiling young man followed her back and started to explain to me about diamonds and how they decide their value. I tried to absorb what he was telling me and when I still wasn't sure what he was talking about I asked him this:

Me: "So, there's a question to whether these are real diamonds?"
Jeweler: "No, there's no question."
Me (being most serious): "So, they're not real?"
Jeweler (now looking at me funny): "Of course they're real!"
Me (almost giddy with happiness but still trying to hold it in): "But they aren't worth much if I were to say, want to sell them?"
Jeweler (re-posturing): "I would guess that you could still get close to the actual value according today's market which would be about..."

I held my breath and as his next 3 words came off of his tongue like a pygmy dart that had just shot me between the eyes, my knees went weak and I felt the immediate need to relieve my bladder. 


My loving God! 

I could no longer hold back the joy that I was feeling and thanking them both for cleaning the ring, I skipped out of the store and headed back to my truck. I thought about 2 things; first, telling my Big Guy about his incredible luck and next finding the nearest restroom so I wouldn't need to change my pants!

That night, when my Big Guy came home, I met him at the door, flying into his arms so quick I almost knocked him over. I wiggled the $3000 pinkie ring in front of his face and dared him to guess it's worth.
"$200?" was his first guess.

"Bzzzt!" I tried to imitate the "you are wrong" buzzer from a popular tv game show.

"Up or down?" he asked.

I motioned thumbs up.

"$500?" he guessed again, watching my thumb stay up.

"I give, how much is it worth?" he said now with a big smile and excitement beginning to show in his voice.

I squealed out the answer, "Three thousand dollars! Can you believe that?" I held the ring up staring at it in amazement. He was thrilled to know that the value was well more than what he had hoped for but better than that, he had proven to me that he was right about something for a change.

I wore the ring for a few days, trying to get used to the unbalanced feeling of having something around just one small finger of my right hand. I found myself playing with it and taking it off more than wearing it. It was difficult enough for me to wear the plain gold, thin wedding band that I wear every day that had itself initially taken a lot of getting used to. But this ring had no real connection to my past; it wasn't given to me for any purpose other than it had been found.

I used it once to try and show off to my friend Lori while she was back for a visit; remembering all the times she flashed her diamonds and other jewelry in front of my face and I had showed little if any interest. She had picked me up so we could spend the afternoon of shopping and lunch together. I tried everything that day to get her to notice the ring on my pinkie finger but as she parked in my driveway to let me out and say goodbye, I finally thrust the ring in her face and asked what she thought of it. Good old friend that she was, she knew me well enough to know I was playing around with her and she simply said, "Nice!".

Then one day my Big Guy was talking about how much he would enjoy having a metal detector. 

"A metal detector!" I laughed, "Why would you want one of those things?'

"Well, you know I have my dad's coin collection, I could use it to start my own collection." he retorted. 

"But do they really work?" I asked, "And aren't they pretty expensive?" I was thinking about how many bills we had to pay and where we would come up with the money for such a thing. "That might be something we'll have to wait for like my Kitchenaid stand mixer." I told him. 

He agreed that it wasn't something necessary but continued to hint about how much he wanted one for days.

I finally looked them up on the Internet and found a dealer close by. Between the Internet and the dealer, I knew the cost of a good one would be about $250-$300. Money we just didn't have at the time. Christmas was coming soon and I tried to think of some way I could surprise my Big Guy with the gift I knew he wanted. He rarely ever asked for anything.

Then my luck changed one day while having my hair cut at a friends salon. She asked if I would like a free manicure, noticing the rough, chewed nails that I exhibited. I took her up on the offer and while removing the ring from my pinkie finger I heard her comment about how lovely it was.

"Try it on!" I urged her, seeing that her fingers were much smaller than mine.

She placed it on her ring finger and it fit perfectly. 

I noticed for the first time that she wore a lot of rings so I asked if she bought them for herself or if they were gifts. She told me, she loved good jewelry and for being successful with her business, it was how she rewarded herself. I told her that I was hoping to find someone to buy this ring since I couldn't get used to it on my pinkie finger and after we had talked a while she finally offered to buy it from me.

Christmas was interesting that year. There was a rather large, mysterious rectangular wrapped box under the tree. When I presented it to my Big Guy and he ripped it open, discovering a brand new White's Metal Detector inside, he was so surprised. All of the diamonds in the world with the best cut, color, clarity and carat weight, could not match the beauty of the smile on his ruggedly handsome face. 

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