Ring shopping is always, always a stressful business. That’s what everyone told me, anyway. I saw it first-hand last year when my mate Tom dragged me up and down Bond Street, then twice round Hatton Garden for good measure. Think best man duties extend only to stag dos, strippers, and speeches? You’ve clearly never met a groom with three months’ salary burning a hole in his pocket, and blind panic sweating out from every pore.
I was determined to do things differently, and in Sarah I knew I’d found just the girl. We even talked about it a couple of times, years ago, back at that point in the relationship when you stay up all night just chatting shit about the future. Where you’ll live, what your kids will be called – that kind of stuff. She’s a simple soul, is Sarah, with straightforward tastes. She knows what she wants, but she’s not fussy, y’know.
“When the time comes, don’t get me anything fancy,” she said. “Just one that fits. That I’ll be able to put on, and smile whenever I look at it.”
Of course these days you can do most of the research online. I got more into it than I thought I would, dazzled by the sheer number of options out there. She nearly caught me one evening, and I had to turn my phone away, blushing; the big grin on her face a sign that she knew exactly what I was doing.
After that, I was more careful. I went out in my lunch breaks, to peer through dusty shop windows and slip into dingy back rooms, where drawers were pulled open in front of me to reveal their treasures.
Throughout it all, I retained an unerring faith that I’d make the correct choice. That I’d make Sarah happy. I felt like we knew each other too well for this to go wrong – that whichever ring I picked would be right, simply because she was the person I was giving it to.
It was a wet, blustery, Wednesday afternoon when I eventually found it. I barely had to look twice before I knew it was the one. With trembling fingers, I brushed over its smooth surface, carefully checked the size with the sales assistant, and felt a sharp tingle of excitement give way to the soft glow of success.
Sarah works late during the week, so I had plenty of time to prepare. I thought about leaving it in its box, just out on the side somewhere, for her to find. “What’s this?” she’d say. “For me?” I’d pick her up in my arms and swing her round and round, till we were both breathless with laughter and ready to collapse in a heap on the bed.
But even though formal isn’t really my style, I figured there had to be at least a bit of ceremony. The chance for her to soak it all in, and really hold on to that moment. For her eyes to go wide in surprise and delight, as mine bathed in her sudden, happy glow.
That’s why I decided to ditch the pretty box – the gaudy ribbon. To ditch everything, in fact, and just give it to her in the way I knew she’d love most of all. When I heard her car in the garage, I settled back and closed my eyes, knowing that what was about to happen would change nothing and everything, all at the same time.
The bedroom door creaked as Sarah pushed it open, and I smiled at her sharp intake of breath when she saw me. I was desperate to open my eyes, but wanted to give her a chance to compose herself first. She moved closer, and I swear I almost heard the smile form on her face.
“Oh darling,” she whispered, and I looked up to see her eyes shining with emotion. “Oh Jake, it’s perfect. I can’t believe it. You don’t know how often I’ve dreamed about this moment!
“Our very first cock ring…”