…of winning the lottery!
It was lost, three times, but now it’s found!
It isn’t made of gold; it doesn’t have a diamond, not even a diamond chip like my first promise ring allegedly had.
It is a simple sterling silver band with hearts and scrolls etched in black. A classmate who made my heart flutter, my tummy knot up, my hands sweat, and my tongue utter monosyllables gave it to me at an 8th-grade dance.
Gentleman that he was, he asked first if I would accept a ring. With my 12-year-old practicality, I told him yes, but only if it was a friendship ring. I didn’t want to go steady. ( I don’t think I explained that thoroughly to him at the time. Maybe he thought I was holding out for a different fella. Au contraire – he was my beau of choice. I was simply thinking it was silly to go steady, like some of my girlfriends thought they were, when I wasn’t going to be allowed to date for four more years.)
My girlfriends already considered him ‘mine’ because I had the fruit loop off his red corduroy shirt. That sealed the deal in a way that no initial ring could.
Alas, that was back before I owned a transistor radio even! To educate the ignorant, it was a hang-up loop similar to one found sometimes in a jacket. This loop, however, was sewn on the outside back pleat on the seam that ran across the back of the shirt. I didn’t do so well in home ec; there are probably terms to explain it better.
How it became mine I don’t quite remember. I do know I was too shy to cut it off myself, though I did see that done from time to time in class. I have a vague recollection that perhaps some other girl cut it off and gave it to me, with his permission, of course.
Wonder if moms ever figured out what was happening to their sons’ shirts? The loop didn’t seem to appear quite as often on a girl’s blouse, though I do remember having a pink shirt that had one. If sharing a girl’s fruit loop had the same significance, it eluded me back then. My pink shirt stayed intact.
How it came to be called a ‘fruit’ loop? I can’t remember. My cranial archives can’t seem to come up with that particular tidbit of information. When I finish here, I will google the term and see what pops up. Perhaps I will find it listed among other fashion trends baby boomers outlived. Or perhaps I will discover I am confusing it with the cereal.
Whatever it was called, it was mine, for years kept in the sacred section of my scrapbook along with the dictionary he made for me in the sixth grade. (Why he made me a dictionary and gave it to me in the cloak room is a whole other story – for later).
I don’t remember wondering when I would get the ring. Other memories crowd out any anticipation anxiety I might have had. That eighth grade year Mom finally let me wear garters and stockings with loafers rather than white dress socks with paten leather shoes when we had to dress up for field trips to hear the symphony.
So it was a big relief that I was dressed like the other girls at that 8th grade dance. I didn’t know the boy I thought was perfect had the ring in his pocket that night. I didn’t know he had asked the one playing the records over in the corner to play a certain one at a certain time. I didn’t know why he had waited so long to ask me to dance; after all, I had practiced and could manage a perfect box without looking at my feet if we had the chance to dance to a slow song. I didn’t know that at a certain point in the song everyone else would stop dancing and watch him take the ring out of his pocket and give it to me.
I didn’t know that would be my first – and only – Cinderalla moment. My prince and I never had a date, because my folks decided to make a move away from the city at the end of my junior year, two weeks before I turned 16. At first there were a few long typed letters, which somehow didn’t manage to stay in the scrapbook as long as the fruit loop and dictionary did. Later there were a couple of photos taken in a college dorm. Then there was a Christmas card exchange with photos of babies.
Memories forgotten until the treasure was unearthed in an old jewelry box. I wore it occasionally, just for fun. On a day when I thought I had put it on, I missed it and sadly concluded it had gone down the drain at school.
This year, with teaching career and divorce part of the completed patchwork of my life, I found it again in a coin purse about to be tossed. I wear it often now for the slightly smug feeling I get because it still fits, though I do realize it is the only part of me that is still the same size.
One recent morning I popped into a job to do some preliminary work before tourist season kicks in, then headed to a program geared to help boomers stay active and alert. As I thumbed through some of the handouts, I realized it was not on my finger.
Panic, pure painful panic. NO, not after all this time, not after losing it twice! Not again! At break time I made a dash to the office to retrace my steps. I had done so many different little tasks. I had disposed of papers still a bit sticky with paint. I had swept, I had emptied trash. I had parked on a gravel lot. No luck. I stuck a note on the wall by the time cards. “I have lost a ring. Keep an eye out please!” When I returned to the meeting, I scanned the parking lot, the sidewalk, and the aisle to my seat. Nothing.
Bedtime brought to mind places I had not looked. Armed with flashlight and disposable gloves, I headed back to the office to spotlight my morning’s tasks in reverse. That meant dumping the trash out to look at the sticky papers, walking the same paths to and fro in the gravel lot, while not thinking, much, about what it might look like if someone was watching.
Beginning to quiz myself on why I found it so important to find a ring a kid gave me 46 years ago, I drove to the location of the seminar to look in the parking space I had used on the paved lot there. Now beginning to talk out loud, I voiced, “Let it go. It’s just a thing. You still have the memories. Get over it.”
As I pulled out of the lot to head home to Letterman, a flash of insight made me turn sharply back into the parking lot via an adjacent entrance. Wait! When I first arrived at the seminar, I had gone to an entrance that was locked! What if…?
I stopped, put the car in park, stepped out and looked down, fiddling with the flashlight. I didn’t need it. There it was, right at my feet. As I stooped to pick it up, I had to stifle the shout, “I feel like I’ve won the lottery!”
Like a gazillion others, I had purchased a MegaMillions lottery ticket, but the winners from Maryland, Illinois and Kansas announced the following day would have nothing on this Missouri gal!