The Prompt: All women have a purity ring of sorts whose size and quality are derived from their social standing, wealth, and traits desired for optimal relationships.
When I arrived at the bar, the collar of my jacket still upturned against the chill of the crisp fall evening, Tommy had already managed to procure a couple seats at the counter. He waved me over, and I cut in through the already forming throng of young people.
“Hey, glad you could finally make it!” he greeted me, sliding an opened bottle of beer across the bar’s top to me. “Man, I’ve been sitting here scoping out our targets for, like, ten minutes already!”
I grasped the wet bottle and took a long drag. “Let’s just say that I needed this,” I replied, nodding towards the beer. “Classes were terrible, and Finklestein kept us late. I don’t think he realizes that most of his class doesn’t care about fluid dynamics at all, much less as much as he does.”
After draining a quarter of my beer, I spun around in the high stool, gazing out across the sparse but growing sea of eligible college students. “So, identified any prospective targets yet?” I asked.
Tommy raised his own bottle to his lips, took a sip, and then nodded towards a pert and smiling brunette a few paces away. “She’s pretty cute,” he offered. “Athletic, you know? I’m pretty sure that she’ll do all the work later on this evening!”
The girl was chatting with a friend, and she lifted her glass up to her lips to take a sip. I caught a glimpse of the ring on her finger, and shook my head. “Not a chance, dude. Carved jade? She’s only gonna go for an Asian guy.”
I was the next one to choose, leaning past Tommy to check out a wavy-haired blonde further down the bar. I couldn’t see her hands, but she was wearing quite the low-cut top, and I could definitely see some other assets that called out to me. “I wouldn’t mind bumping into her, if you know what I mean!” I exclaimed, tilting my head towards her.
This time, Tommy was the one to shake his head. “She’s sprouting a two-carat diamond on her finger,” he pointed out. “She’ll be totally into you – until she gets out of the bar and sees that you drive an old Honda Civic, not a Bentley. And then she’ll be gone like the wind.”
I sighed and took another pull of beer. “So what’s your best prospect, then?”
Tommy waggled his eyebrows at me suggestively, and then pointed over his shoulder at a girl sitting in one of the booths. The girl was cute, sure, but she could definitely afford to shed a few pounds. And the fact that she appeared to have ordered food at this college bar was not a great sign. “Really?” I asked, apprehension clear in my voice. “Her?”
“The ring, dude!” Tommy replied. “I saw it when she was lifting up a mozzarella stick. She’s got a ruby, a diamond, and a sapphire, all small – all I have to do is spout off some patriotic stuff and I’ll be totally in!”
I opened my mouth to protest, trying to convince him that he could do better, but Tommy reached out and slapped me on the back, nearly making me choke on the beer. “I’ll let you know how it goes later, buddy!” he told me, and then went scurrying across the bar. I watched with a combination of bemusement and resigned disappointment as he slid into the booth opposite the girl and started chatting.
“This seat open?”
I turned around, nodding. “Yeah, it is. I think I’ve just been ditched for the evening.”
“Great! At least I get something out of it.” The voice was distinctly feminine, and I couldn’t stop myself from checking out the girl sliding onto the stool beside me. She had straight black hair that fell on narrow shoulders, but as she pushed errant strands back out of her face, she revealed a pair of large and sparkling brown eyes. A cute little upturned nose was above a large mouth, pulled back into a smile as she wryly observed me checking her out. One eyebrow lifted slightly, as if asking if I had finished yet.
“Sorry,” I apologized, putting on my best disarming smile. “If it helps, you’re way prettier than the last occupant of that seat! Can I get you a drink?”
“You know what? I’d be happy with one of what you’ve got,” the girl replied, nodding towards my beer. “I think it’s been one of those days.”
The words made me smile; I knew exactly what she meant. “Heck yes,” I agreed, reaching over the counter to wave and catch the bartender’s attention. I pointed to my bottle, and then held up two fingers, waiting until he nodded in confirmation. “I’m Jake. Nice to meet you.”
“Hi, Jake,” the girl greeted me. “I’m Abbey.” She held out her hand to me for a joking handshake. I couldn’t help but risk a quick glance down at her ring. It was purely instinctual – how could I not?
The ring was surprisingly elegant. A central diamond, princess cut in a square, was flanked by two smaller emeralds. The ring was made of white gold, its lines both clean and appealing, but strands of white gold rose to curl slightly around those two side emeralds, giving just the slightest hint of playfulness. It was, I realized with a sudden rush, the most beautiful ring I’d ever seen.
“Abbey,” I repeated, my eyes finally rising up to meet hers once again. “It is, honestly, a pleasure to meet you.” I caught a hint of a blush in the girl’s cheeks as she smiled back at me, and in that moment, the rest of the bar seemed to all fade into the background.
Author’s note: I really like this writing prompt! It’s a fun idea to consider.