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Standing on the tube last Wednesday, I briefly managed to crane my neck out from under the tangled mess of strangers’ body parts and look up at all the different hands clasped tightly onto the blue railings.
I noticed immediately that a lot of the hands had wedding rings on them, not just one or two but it felt like the whole third carriage had been designated for married folk only, “I’m sorry ma’am, I can’t let you onto carriage #3 today… it’s a single-free zone. Oh, and mind the gap”.
I suppose it is ‘Red Car Theory’ (RCT) in action. RCT occurs when you decide that you want to buy a red car, all of a sudden there are red cars everywhere, you can’t escape them and all you can think is ‘were there no other colours these people could have chosen but red? If I purchase my new car in red now, I’ll just end up as another one of the mindless red car zombies driving around in my dime-a-dozen mobile. I best go with silver’.
But this mystical third carriage of marriage got me thinking, why is marriage such an important life milestone that we feel the need to let strangers know about it?
Let’s think about it, do you wear a ring after a first date, just to let stranger’s know that you have been on a first date? No, you don’t. Do you wear a ring when you buy a new washing machine? Of course not. Do you wear a ring to symbolise to the world that you got a cat or what about that time Captain Planet let you join the Planeteers? Didn’t think so, mainly because that never happened.
While not all of these things are considered to be traditional life milestones, you certainly aren’t racing out to buy a new symbolic item of jewelry every time something happens to you, and why not? Because you don’t want to tell strangers these things, but for some reason you do want to tell them that you’re married.
If the person standing next to you on the tube, at the supermarket or in the doctors office needs to know ONE thing about you, should it be that you are married?
Our hands have become the new mobile Facebook app – HandBook! Except we’re only updating our status about one thing. Marriage. Heck your hand has a whole finger dedicated to displaying your status, like a cabinet.
So why don’t we have pieces of jewelry for all the different milestones in our life? Items that when people see them, they know exactly what they mean, “Oh look Carl, she’s wearing a ring on her right pinkie, she lost 10kg last year” or “I wouldn’t waste my time Alice, he’s a twice divorced single dad with a love of feather boa’s, see the ring on his left index finger”.
But don’t worry, I am a huge hypocrite! I’m engaged and proudly sport my engagement ring on my left hand. In fact I walk around with my arm fully extended out in front of me like a barge pole so as to avoid any potential suitors approaching me. Okay, so I made that second bit up, but I am engaged and I do wear my ring.
I guess the hopeless romantic in me wants to think that the answer to this crazy, ring-wielding, status updating, hand display that we’ve all bought into is simply because when you find that one person you love above everyone and everything else, that love, is all that matters and it is truly more important than anything else you could want to tell someone.
If a stranger should know one thing about you, one thing that defines you… it should be that you are in love.