The last time I wore an engagement ring, I couldn’t stop tapping it against things.

I’ve still no idea what it was made of (white gold, I am assuming) or how much it cost (although, given what I’ve found out since, it was probably about £69 – nice.), or even where it is now (Rebecca kept both when she ended it all), but I loved it, and I loved wearing it… and it made a short, sharp, metallic tap when it hit a surface.

Okay, let’s give this some context. The last time I was engaged I was seventeen and in the sixth form. I’d managed to go from “completely undateable” to “betrothed, intended, affianced” in the space of about two months, and I was having sex, which surprised everyone, since I’m not particularly shaggable either. The sixth form block was a very modern one, too – a new build with plenty of metal bannisters, plateglass windows and toughened plastic surfaces.

And I had a nervous twitch.

Tap tap tap tap tap tap tap tap tap. It heralded my arrival if I was coming up a flight of stairs, trailing my left hand along the metal and bouncing my ring finger every half second.

Tap tap tap tap tap tap tap tap tap. It reverberated through the classroom during quiet study time as I would carelessly drum my hand against the veneer surface.

Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap… tap… tap-tap-tap-tap. In a little rhythm while humming the theme tune I’d written for Stephen King’s IT. Accompanied by a pleasant flump (om the book) when we were all giggling at the appearance of a clown in Othello who has to inform musicians that Othello is in no mood for levity.

Tap tap-tap-tap-tap, tap! tap! to the tune of “Shave and a Haircut” whenever someone said something witty. Tap tap tap tap tap rapidly when everyone else in the room applauded. A sharp rap! if my IBS had stopped me from talking and I needed to get someone’s attention. Rhythmic taps to accompany myself if I was singing.

Bell rang? Tap.
Door opened? Tap.
Laughter? Tap.

And then, when I got bored, I’d take my ring off and fiddle with it. A tiny golden fidget toy, for the engaged boy in your life.

I’ve been wearing my current engagement ring for over a year now. It’s much simpler – an unembellished band of silver which shines less, costs less, and (this is the important bit) looks exactly the same as the one my fiancée is wearing. I don’t even wear it all the time – it comes off when I get home, and then back on when I go out…

…but it’s only just now that I’ve realised I don’t really tap it against things.

I fiddle with it, of course, and I play with it – threading it through my fingers and all. But that’s more of a sensory thing. Any small noises made by my ring are unintentional – a clink against a coffee cup; a thap as I place it down and it comes to rest on top of my passport. Drudd if it comes into contact with cardboard, an almost inaudible shh as it slides onto (and off) my finger), tip if it comes into contact with the little Doxy keyring I have in my pocket.

But I never tap.

Except for the day before yesterday. It was the end of my first week at my shiny new job and I was, and this is the technical term, BORK’D. On my grateful way out, I used both hands to heave the gate open and make my way out onto the street.

My ring came into contact with the handle.


And I felt more powerful than ever as I started home.