Arianne B. Cope, “The Eight-Cow Ring,” New Era, Oct 2004, 37
When I was single, it seemed like engaged girls with sparkly diamond rings loved to show them off so everyone would know how much their husband paid for them. It’s like in the film Johnny Lingo, where islanders are shocked when Johnny buys his wife with eight cows instead of the typical three or four. I couldn’t wait until I got the chance to wave around an “eight cow” ring of my own.
But if you judge me by the plain, thin, silver-colored ring I currently wear, you’d think my husband was a cheapskate. Actually my husband worked for months so I could have a beautiful ring. Unfortunately, it was an uninsured beautiful eight-cow ring … and I flushed it down the toilet.
We’d only been married for two weeks, and I’d already formed the habit of carefully pulling off my ring and placing it safely in a little box above the sink each time I washed my hands. I didn’t want to run the risk of tainting my ring’s sparkle with soap scum buildup. As I pulled it off one Saturday morning, the pressure built, and it popped right off my knuckle. I watched in disbelief as my lovely ring sailed straight for the toilet and hit the open bowl dead center, just as it finished flushing.
I screamed. I cried. I tried to jump in after it, but grown women just don’t fit in toilet bowls no matter how desperate the circumstances. My poor husband took the toilet apart for me, stuck his whole arm down the sludge hole, and felt around for the ring. We called every person in town that had anything to do with the sewer system and pleaded our case.
“Lady, your line is connected to the largest high pressure pipe in the city. Your ring is long gone,” I was told. In one swift swirl of water, my ring was gone forever.
Over the next few days, I became understandably depressed. My marriage preparation classes hadn’t covered crises of the flushing variety. I worried I’d ruined my chances for a happy marital relationship. After all, my husband had insisted on buying me a nice ring because the sacrifice it would take for him to be able to buy it would represent his love for me. Now I’d flushed the symbol of his love down the toilet.
I was telling my husband for the 42nd time how oafish I was and how sorry I was that he’d worked so hard for something I’d clumsily lost. He took me by the shoulders, looked me in the eyes, and said, “Please stop, Arianne. I don’t care about the ring. I didn’t do all that work for some sparkly rock. I did it for you, and I’d do it all over again a hundred times if you wanted me to. You’re worth more than all the diamonds in the world. I love you.”
My husband’s comforting words and warm embrace that day made me realize how silly I’d been acting. The ring was gone, but everything it symbolized still exists.
So even though I still punish the toilet with a hard kick from time to time, I’ve learned to focus on what’s most important. And that’s not how much my husband spent on me but how much he loves me. My husband insists he’ll get me a new ring someday. But I’m not sure I want one. Every time I look at my thin little ring, I remember what real love is. It doesn’t sparkle, it can’t be shown off, and thank goodness, it can’t be flushed down a toilet.
[illustrations] Illustrated by Dilleen Marsh^ Back to top