I haven’t thought about analogies since taking the SATs over ten years ago. Back then, me and my classmates spent many an hour trying to fill in the blanks of these strange questions:
Cobblestone : Pebble :: _________ : Toothpick
a) A tree
b) A plank of wood
c) A splinter
d) Your dick
The formula is pronounced this way: “A cobblestone is to a pebble as a blank is to a toothpick.” It was basically a way of showing that you could identify the relationships between things. So in this particular question, you’re asking yourself, what’s the same degree of difference from a toothpick as a cobblestone is to a pebble? A splinter is smaller than a toothpick, so that’s out, and a tree is exponentially larger than a toothpick, so that’s out. And we were all taught in our SAT prep classes that the answer was never “Your dick.” The answer “Your dick” was a red herring: it was designed to make you waste valuable test time wondering whether answering “Your dick” would be an admission of a small penis or a large penis. Penile hubris is not something colleges look for in their applicants.
So the answer is b) A plank of wood.
Anyway. I haven’t thought about analogies since finishing that test. Until recently, when cats started freaking out about cucumbers. If you haven’t been following the more pressing world news of late, you haven’t heard about the new discovery that cucumbers freak the ever loving shit out of cats.
I, however, knew how the cats felt. Not that I have anything against cucumbers, but because a new element has recently been introduced into my life from out of nowhere that has turned me into a gibbering, non-functional mess:
My wedding ring.
I have now been married for two months. The marriage part I quite like. The ceremony was wonderful, the party was great, the honeymoon was a blast, and domestic, married life is pretty chill. But the ring has been a problem since day one. I actually lost sleep the night of the wedding, not because of the excitement or because of nerves about marriage, but because the ring felt impossibly heavy on my finger. I slept weird on my arm for a bit that night, and woke up with pins and needles, and I decided that it was because the ring was cutting off circulation to my entire left side. It was the only new element, it was the only thing that made sense.
The next day, as Steph and I hung out with all of the friends and family who were still in town, I fiddled with it. Every time I did jazz hands (and yes, I do jazz hands regularly), it jangled dangerously, as if it was about to shoot off across the room. One of my friends, who had gotten married five months earlier, said, “Oh yeah. That weirdness hasn’t gone away yet.” Other recently married friends told me that they still fiddle. They spin the ring like it’s a quarter. Others flip them into the air and try to catch them on their finger, a la Lord of the Rings. Others use them as percussion instruments against stone tabletops.
When we went on our honeymoon the next day, I met a man at the resort who said, “You two are newlyweds, right?”
We said yeah and asked how he knew. “Oh, you can always tell,” he said, “The guys are always fiddling with their rings.”
There are several reasons why women don’t do the same thing:
- They’ve had their engagement rings on for months now, and thus are used to it.
- Women (generally speaking) are more frequent ring-wearers than men, don’t find the feeling as alien.
- Their rings are generally lighter.
- Women are conditioned to be able to function in mild discomfort: think heels, tight pants, piercings, make-up, bras… men have no such conditioning, and, as such, are babies.
My ring is also a source of deep fear for me. This is because of the ring I bought. It’s a hefty silver thing, and it’s made of tungsten carbide. I got tungsten carbide instead of gold because a gold band costs a couple hundred dollars, while a tungsten carbide ring costs you about $10. Tungsten carbide rings are cheaper than a good craft beer. They’re also stronger than gold. They’re less likely to scratch, they don’t stain, they don’t rust, and they can last a lifetime.
I thought all of this was a good thing, until I started talking to my friends who do manual labor. Or, you know, who work out. “Oh yeah,” they said, “Just don’t break your finger while you’re wearing it.”
“Well, if you get it caught on something while you’re mowing the lawn or lifting, and it breaks your finger, the doctors won’t be able to cut it off because it’s so strong. So they might have to take off your finger instead.”
Everytime I lift something with the ring, I imagine feeling sudden pressure, a snapping sound, a shooting pain, and then watching the doctors pulling my finger off my hand with a satisfying popping sound, like a cork out of a champagne bottle.
My friend says, “Matt, they’ll probably try to get the swelling down first. Or they’ll just grease your finger before chopping it off.”
It is this that haunts me. It is this, I assume, that has haunted many men, and has led to their early marriage freak-outs: not, as society assumes, a terror of monogamy or a fear of commitment, but rather the introduction of an ominous alien jewel onto their being. Like cats with cucumbers, we newly married men know that finding something where before there was nothing is a terrifying event indeed.