"Number 9"

     "Number 9"

One of the advantages of being a neighborhood place is having a regular clientele.  A big part of our marketing involved these regulars bringing in new customers.  Especially if I know the first parties name and identify them as they walk in.  That’s a winner.  It makes people feel special. It feeds a certain part of a social need and it makes people feel welcome.  At least this is how it makes me feel.  This is the story of one such regular. David was a friend of my brother who had moved here from the New York.   I am fairly certain he was one of the few people who say they are from New York City who was actually a Manhattan resident. I have found that most people who make the claim are from Long Island or Westchester and others spent a few years living in the area and are from some points even further away.

       David on the other hand  was a Manhattanite. He grew up there and somehow ended up working "upstate" as they call it for Xerox. He moved into a large and pricey Park Avenue apartment.  Very common for people who relocate and can’t believe the price/value difference from downstate.  My brother was living in a smaller unit in the same building. They had become friends partly due to David’s newness and partly due to my brother’s inability to keep friends long term. So my brother started bringing David into the store on Saturdays to show off his new friend to me and soon he started coming in on his own.

      After a few years David starting dating a coworker and felt it serious enough to bring her to one of his regular places.  This is a big step in relationships.  There is always a risk of bringing someone to one “your” places too soon.  The down side here is that if the relationship works you have to split time with any place the other party is a regular which is kind of like holidays and in-laws.   So David and his lady friend would come in together just not as often.   She was very intelligent, as was David.  Neither was young looking but they carried themselves well and dressed like casual professionals. They were not part of the “beautiful people” sect, but each had a their own special appeal. They were, however, very successful and it was obvious they would be their entire lives.  

      One day I mention that I had not seen them as often as usual and she mentions that they have been very busy. She tells me that she had started the process of conversion and is taking classes. David was Jewish, she was not, but soon she would be Jewish by religion.  No doubt this was being done with the intention of marriage and they freely talked about their plans.

      The next time I saw them I noticed a very unusual ring on her right hand ring finger. Knowing that they were planning on marrying I didn't think it rude to ask about this sparkling oddity. 

“THAT is a beautiful ring.  Is it a family heirloom?” was my opener.

“No, I had it made.”  Was her response with a comforting smile on her face.  

“Are those diamonds?” I could feel my voice and my eyebrows raise as I finished this query.  It was coming out of my mouth as fast as the thoughts were coming into my brain. I was referring to the large and numerous rocks that seemed to span the entire circumference of the ring.  Even though I could not see a small portion of the ring that was on the underside of the finger her appendages were skinny enough that I could tell those rocks did not stop.

      Her fingers matched the rest of her body. She was short and lanky, almost unhealthily so. In addition to her lanky appearance she also had an aura that matched her intelligence. She seemed a bit nerdy but above the social abilities of most others that get this categorization. Her personality was pleasant and she seemed comfortable in any group. She dressed a little less casual than most people her age, but she never looked out of place just perhaps a bit dated.

      My interest in the ring had not been sated and my nosiness would not let me leave this alone.

“You had it made?” was my response, and I made no effort to hide my shock and surprise.

“Yes”, she responded. “I had it made from the engagement rings that I have been given.”

     I think my eyes were popping out my head at this point and the edges of my mouth were scratching my ears. I usually don’t exhibit a verbal level of shock but my interest level had blown off the roof. I know I am going to fully investigate this story in the event that it ends up being as crazy as it is starting out.
     “How many diamonds?” I asked showing absolutely no reluctance to dragging them both into murky waters or a topic may be inappropriate.

     “There are 8 diamonds and they wrap around the ring.” She said this with confidence as she held up her hand so I could get a closer look. She did so without arrogance or hesitation.

      I am completely intrigued. Could this particular Saturday truly provide me with this much entertainment? I must know, even if I end up disappointed in the end.  I cannot stop myself. I liken it to coming near the end of a rainbow and spotting a shiny gold coin that just may have spilled out of the pot. Could you be satisfied with just one gold coin even though you may be risking the true knowledge of the legend?  Well I could not.

“It’s not as bad as you think. She continued.

“Two of the guys gave me two rings each, so there were only six different engagements.”

      She must have noticed my visible surprise as she followed with this as if it would ease my shock and make it sound less crazy. Nope, I’m afraid not dear. I have hit the jackpot.

      O.K., if you are a woman it might make complete sense to replace an engagement ring with a new one if something happened to interrupt your engagement. Ridding  yourself of the old memories and starting anew. But would you keep the old ring? And what amazing argument did she use that not only convinced one, but two men to propose twice; let her keep the first ring and give her a second? I would have loved to be in the room for that discussion provided it was a verbal only interchange (Maybe I wouldn't mind being in the room if it went the other way either).

       Men, you're up.  You are sitting in a public place. The girl you have been dating and looking forward to marrying tells people that she had been engaged 8 other times, never married, and kept all the rings. Two men proposed twice with two separate rings. There are not many men that I know that would be still sitting in the same space to hear the rest of the story.  David did. He appeared to have heard all about this before and showed little concern. He even had a little smirk like he was man enough to tame this beast and had won the big prize.

       I walked away so as not to ruin his gloating and immediately donned him “Number 9.” This after the equally bizarre Beatles song with the same name. Not sure which would have won the prize for oddest; that recorded piece of noise or this tale I was just told.  I never informed him of his nickname, but I told many many others throughout the years.  Some things have to be shared just as some need to be kept to oneself. 

      The end of the story had the same risk as was presented earlier but would take many months to be revealed. She finished her conversion.  David proposed and provided her with a ring.   Maybe this was the end for her. After all this was a small city and word would have to get around. Even in the world of high tech nerds there had to be some degree of separation. So it may not be the Kevin Bacon seven, but there is some number and I am starting to think that number is nine.  I can only hope that I will be invited to the wedding.   

      One Saturday morning I received a call from the brother that is friends with David. This was somewhat unusual as his normal practice was to just stop in the store. One fact about my brother that can be very useful (provided you can remember it at all times) is that he cannot keep anything to himself. In addition, he thrives on having some knowledge in a conversation and blurting it out exactly at the moment that you would want someone to keep that information to themselves.  He would use that same information to impress anyone he felt he could gain good graces with or to boost his own image.

      The phone call was just such an occasion. He willingly informed me that he was on his way to pick up David who had just called him.  When he asked where he was David told him he was at his girlfriend’s house and needed a ride. When asked why, he told my brother that he had been locked out of the condo and was standing in the front yard in just his underwear. She would not let him back in and he wasn't sure he would enter even if she would have allowed it.  She was throwing pots and pans and anything else she could get her hands on in his direction. He had run out of the house and was using a neighbor’s phone.  None of this story has been enhanced one iota. I am not that good at fictional tales.  “Number 9” was just another casualty.

     Years later I heard that she married someone from the synagogue and remained in town.  David moved to Long Island and was now married with two kids. I don’t know where that ring is or if she had it adjusted for “Number 9” but I sure wish I knew.

1 comment:

  1. I had forgotten that one. Good story. Thanks for the refresher.


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