Good Fortun(off)

In the aftermath of my marriage, I have been thinking about the strange, little things that characterized that part of my life.

For example, my engagement ring and wedding band were from Fortunoff, which I tell you only to draw attention to the fact that Fortunoff went out of business the within weeks of Andrew and I filing our separation papers.

“Did you engrave anything inside the rings?” his mother asked me when we bought our wedding bands – which she hated.  His was platinum, from a German machining company.  Because he was educated as an engineer before he became a lawyer, the machine-shop wedding band was perfect for him.  Indeed, he was the kind of man who looked right in a wedding band.  And though it was a modern band – not the yellow gold millgrain his mother might have expected for him – the band was Andrew.

“No we didn’t have anything inscribed,” we told her.  She then continued on her rant about how Andrew would not be respected in his very traditional, conservative office because he had a unique wedding band.

(I am glad, now, that those fights, and those power struggles are over.)

What would we have had put on the inside of the bands, anyway?  We didn’t know.  The thing that later came to mind; the thing that I might have had put inside his band was “I could drink a case of you, and still be on my feet.”  A Case of You had been playing when he proposed – a sad song; a song inappropriate for a proposal.

When we were married the next year, we gave fortune cookies as the favor – cookies with custom inscriptions (written by me) – in take-out boxes in the colors of our wedding.  I love fortune cookies – really, really love them.  I give them as gifts to clients.  I order them in buckets from Tang’s Garden on Third Avenue.  I take particularly apt ones and paste them inside my datebook.  If I have to make a difficult decision, I consult the cookies first.

For instance, in November, Frederic had asked to meet up again.  I was about to agree, but wisely cracked the fortune cookie leftover from the previous night’s dinner.

Move forward, do not look to a past relationship.

I kid you not.

“Sorry,” I told him, “We can’t meet up.”

We wouldn’t meet up again until months later.  And even then, the cookie had been right.

It is funny to me now, the things that are so ingrained in our personalities — things that define us; things that we would want to include in ceremonies, rituals, the important parts of our lives — which later become tiny, private sources of pain through no intention of our own.

I remember going to Fortunoff on Fifth Avenue; having my rings sized — my rings without anything engraved on the inside, save for the stamp of the signature “f” for Fortunoff.  I remember riding up the escalators into that weird, mirrored building — the interior of the place looking like the 1980s had lingered for a stale decade or two.

And now, I look at the rings in my jewelry box, and think, “I should get rid of these.”  They can’t be worn anymore; they can’t be passed down; there’s nothing I can do with them but sell them and move on.

But I think, if I were going to hang on to them, I’d have to have something written on the inside — some kind of reminder, or sage advice.  Something to let me know to keep going; to not look back; that this significant blip on the radar has been something to move on from, not something to be held back by.

All of that said, I think I would inscribe:

Ignore previous cookie.


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