Rocks and Gatorade

The Christmas I was just shy of twenty-four years old, my boyfriend proposed to me. I should have been thrilled, and I was to some extent, but mostly I was disappointed. For five years, he'd been telling me that he would buy me the most beautiful ring ever, and there it was: his mother's not-quite half-carat solitaire. The ring was nice, but the thought behind it was absent. His mother was divorced from his father. It felt like he had slipped a diamond and bad karma onto my finger.

For a week, everyone cheerfully congratulated me, and I accepted the good wishes with a forced smile on my face. I was happy, but at the same time, I was miserable. If he had put such little thought and emotion into my engagement ring - "it's just a rock," he informed me, rolling his eyes - how much thought would he put into our marriage? Into my well-being? Into our life together?

Then, on New Year's Day, I was struck by a horrible stomach bug. I sat in the bathroom for hours while the virus drained everything from me. When I finally emerged, pale and sweaty, I asked him for one thing: Gatorade.

"But I'm going out to celebrate the holiday," he countered. "I'm too busy."

"Then stop by the gas station or something on the way home and pick some up for me. I'm desperate."

He mumbled something in reply and left the apartment with me alone in it, sick and shivering.

I could have gone out and gotten the Gatorade myself, but I was physically too weak to drag myself off the couch unless I had to run to the bathroom again. I laid there for hours, twitching from the lack of electrolytes in my body.

Six hours later, after I had crawled into bed and was suffering from twitch-interrupted sleep, he came through the front door. I heard him open cabinets and turn on the kitchen faucet. A moment later, he came into the bedroom.

"I brought you some water." He offered me the glass.

"Did you bring any Gatorade?" I asked pathetically.

"No. I didn't have any money left over."

He settled into the bed next to me and fell asleep, while I twitched and cried to myself all night.

I never forgave him for that incident, but ten months later, I found a way for him to redeem himself. I found my dream wedding band at a high-end retailer, and that was the ring I wanted him to buy for me. It was an eternity band, composed of white gold and a half-carat's worth of diamond chips. It was small, but it sparkled. I loved that sparkle, but the price - $2200 - was way out of our small budget.

"Well," the manager dragged out slowly, obviously wanting to make a sale, "you come see me next time, you bring your fiancé, and I'll knock the price down by a thousand." He wrote the ring description and quoted price on the back of his business card. "Bring this with you so I'll remember."

I was overjoyed. I nearly skipped out of the store with excitement, clutching the business card to my chest. When I returned to the apartment and found my fiancé there, strumming his guitar, I told him about the ring and how the manager dropped the price by almost half.

He rolled his eyes. "Fine. If it means so much to you, then I'll take a look at it next weekend."

That wasn't the reaction I expected, and it left me with a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach. I tried to shake myself of it, but that knot crept in and wouldn't let me go, no matter how much I tried to ignore it. For an entire week, I thought to myself, If he's not taking care of me now and he doesn't care about making me happy now, then how will it be when we're married?

The week passed, and I couldn't help but express my excitement as we went back to the jeweler's store. As we stood in front of the case, side by side, I noted how differently we were dressed. I was wearing my church-going clothes; he looked like he had just rolled out of the mosh pit. We didn't look like we belonged together. I pointed out the ring to him: still sparkling, still beautiful, still the wedding band that I wanted.

He narrowed his eyes at it. It was not a good look; he looked more like he wanted to slap me across the face than watch me try it on. "There is no way I'll be able to afford a $1200 ring," he shot at me through clenched teeth. "Who do you think you are that you deserve a ring with diamonds that go all the way around your finger?"

Stunned and shocked into silence, I watched him as he told the manager that we would not be looking at the ring any further. He dragged me, broken-hearted, out of the store. In the car on the drive home, he berated me about being too selfish and only caring about myself. I realized that my fears were justified; this guy didn't care about me now and was never going to care about me in the future. I had to end it. I kept my mouth shut until we were back at the apartment. Once there, I gathered up my suitcase and started shoving my clothes, shoes and toiletries in it.

"What are you doing?" he asked, not paying attention. He was already on the couch with a football game and a beer.

"I'm packing up my stuff."

That got his attention. He sensed the anger in my voice and stood up from the couch. "Really? Is it over that bunch of rocks?"

"Not just that." I slid his mother's ring off my finger and handed it to him. "It's because you don't care about me."

His face scrunched up. "WHEN did I never care about you?" he bellowed.

I dragged my suitcase and my purse over to the front door. "When you left me home alone sick on New Year's Day, and then never brought me a Gatorade." Then, with a naked finger and everything I owned in a suitcase, I got in my car and left him for good.

Until I did it, I never actually thought I would end my engagement over expensive rocks and a bottle of Gatorade.