This columnist took the words right out of mine and most bachelors' mouth; his solution is the best since sliced bread.
Aug. 12, 2003 Toronto Star
Flatscreens are a guy's best friend
by Christopher Hutsul
My girlfriend's sister just got engaged. Coiled around her ring finger, is the ninth wonder of the world. At a recent family barbecue, we passed the behemoth rock around the table, and marvelled at its clarity, its cut, its luminescence ...But when it was finally my turn to stare into the diamond's shimmering geometry, I saw something different. I saw an Audi.
As the boyfriend, the fringe player in this gush-fest, I could only hang back and fret about my own meagre diamond-buying means. It may have been narcissistic to wallow in such pettiness, but figured I was allowed a sullen moment. Because isn't a diamond supposed to be symbolic of devotion and love? The bigger the rock, the stronger the sentiment?
If I were to buy a ring right now, it would look like it came out of a Kinder Surprise next to this thing. At best, I could probably afford a discarded shard that had fallen off the sister's diamond during the cutting.
When I later confronted my girlfriend on the issue, I was told to take comfort in the two-month's salary policy. You know, the guideline that suggests a groom-to-be spends two month's worth income on an engagement ring so as to equalize the playing field.
So if you're an investment banker, like my girlfriend's sister's future husband is, a pricey ring is no more of an investment than the murky trinket a gas jockey would offer up. Although the arrangement is precarious — especially when you consider diamond show-and-tell is inevitable — I felt there was hope.
But lately I've been hearing some unnerving rumblings on the subject.
There's been a stream of "news" about engagement ring culture. Apparently, the rules are changing. Apparently, the two-month's salary plan, is now the three-month salary plan. Apparently, for modern women, anything less than a one-carat diamond (around $10,000) is unacceptable.
Yet another advent to the conventions of engagement ring shopping, I'm told, is that the fiancée now gets to tag along and pick it out. Does this mean the guy is supposed to present a gift-wrapped debit card from Tiffany's when he proposes?
What I want to know is, where was the average dude when these things were decided? Seems everyone's got a say in the ring's purchase except for the chump who's actually putting the cash on the table. Who's making the rules here? The International League Of Disgruntled Girlfriends? The diamond manufacturers? The guy at the mall? Who can tell me how many months' salary this thing is supposed to be? And is that before or after deductions? Does a leap year count?
I propose that instead of dwelling on these unanswerable questions, we shake the whole thing up. It's a new millennium, time to rethink traditions. The way I figure it, both women and men are pursuing careers, right? For too long, men have had to deal with the emotional and financial strains of proposing. Let's switch it up for a while. Women can do the proposing, and diamonds don't have to have anything to do with it ...
When you've made your decision, make your way to the mall. Pass Birks, ignore People's Jewellers, and make your way to the Sony Store. Head for the big screens. For the modern man, anything less than 53 inches is unacceptable. And forget diamond shopping online — the most recent eBay craze. Just go to http://www.autotrader .ca and seek out a 1967 Plymouth Barracuda. Seafoam blue. If you want to keep it affordable, consider this. Silver Snail on Queen St. W. is selling light sabers for under $500. Yes, real, double-ended Darth Maul Jedi-spankers. Nothing says eternal love like light sabers ...And what better way to start a lifelong commitment than with his and hers Honda all-terrain vehicles. Fitted with night-vision headgear. And paint gun rifles. You and your partner could race through the woods in darkness, firing pellets at the moon, your night-chilled bodies lit electro-green by U.S. military issue ocular gear.
Does it get any more romantic than that? Well, I suppose. Because in the end, a diamond ring is a special thing. My girlfriend's sister's ring truly is beautiful, and more importantly, it's symbolic of the real deal. I've seen them in action, and it's a treat to be around two people so in love. When the time is right, the quest for a ring is privilege, not a chore. The right guy should have enough good taste to pick out an attractive ring, and the right girl will appreciate the gesture regardless, whether it's the millennium diamond, or a well-polished pawnshop twinkler.
Even so, the proposal to shake up the traditions of engagement gifting shouldn't be ignored. Because someday, a bunch of guys might sit around, staring deep into the heart of a mighty plasma screen, and catch a shimmering glimpse of undying love, rare and true.