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Golden Rings

Saturday, December 10, 2011 @ 11:12 AM  posted by Mark

File Under Socialist Wedding Gifts

I recently got a new wedding ring (someone else’s), by accident, in the Jardin des Tuileries. I was walking along, minding my own business, when a little old woman, tottering toward me, suddenly bent down to the ground and scooped something up. She approached me and said, “Excuse me, sir, you dropped your ring,” and she held up a shiny golden band. This is a fairly common scam in the tourist areas of Paris: somebody “finds” something you dropped, you say “no, that’s not mine,” they say, “well, you should keep it anyway as a souvenir, and by the way I don’t have enough money to eat, and you just got this stroke of luck, maybe you could share your luck with me and give me some money.”

That’s more or less the way this encounter went, except that the little old woman didn’t ask for money. I said,” No, it’s not mine,” she said “well, it’s a man’s wedding ring, much too big for me, what am I going to do with it, just keep it.” I put the ring on and it fit like a charm! “Really?” I said. “Sure,” she said. “Have a nice day.”

I looked around to see if someone was coming up to pick my pocket, but it was just me and the old woman. “Okay,” I said. “Thanks.”

As I was walking away, however, the woman came running up behind me and said, “You know, come to think of it, I don’t have a place to stay tonight.” I rolled my eyes, took the ring off and tried to hand it back to her. “Forget it,” I said. “Take the ring back.” And now, instead of begging some more, the woman became intensely angry. She refused to take the ring back and instead started cursing me and then gave an impassioned speech about the injustice of the world and how unfair it was that some people have vast riches and some people starve on the street, and there was no logic or merit in the distribution of wealth and so on. I’d met a socialist revolutionary old woman street gypsy.

Most people, I think, would simply have walked away, but the longer she talked, the more I found that I agreed with the woman. The world is unjust! So I told her I would give her all the change in my pocket. Sometimes, this can be as much as eight or ten euros, as one often collects one- and two-euro coins throughout the day in Paris. Unfortunately, on this particular occasion, I had only a measly sixty centimes, which I offered to the woman.

She took the money, counted it, and spat. “What am I going to do with sixty centimes?!” she yelled. She had a point. It was quite bad luck, but I wasn’t about to take my wallet out in a tourist area while being harangued by a gypsy, and anyway, she was getting on my nerves. So I offered her the ring back, and she refused and kept yelling!

I turned to walk away, at which time a very dapper Parisian man wearing a sleek gray suit and expensive overcoat came up and started explaining quite forcefully to the woman how interested the cops would be if they found someone in the Jardin des Tuileries yelling at people, and the two got into a huge fight. I sauntered away and crossed the pedestrian bridge in front of the Orsay Museum, holding my hand up to the sun, admiring my new quasi-golden band/quasi-shower curtain ring. Whatever else you might say about it, it fits perfectly!

The Jardin des Tuileries

Scene of the Crime, the Jardin des Tuileries

2 Responses to “Golden Rings”

  1. Jody says:

    Nobody tells a story like you do. Did she really spit? Not sure how I’d respond to a spitting gypsies…a spitting camel sure, but a gypsy?

  2. kathi says:

    I’ve been there! Both physically and situationally. You think it’s like this, but really it’s like this. The gypsy woman was a bill that you open and it’s actually a solicitation. They are so crafty at making themselves seem legitimate. Good for you for at first giving her the benefit of the doubt – that was generous. Even better that you left the altercation unscathed AND in someone else’s hands! Smooth move, man. You’re the crafty one!


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