black friday.

I stopped to fill up in Hickory on Black Friday. Not because we desperately needed gas, but because I wanted a snack. That's something we do, stop for a soda and a candy bar. We always split a mammoth soda, the biggest gulp we can find, and lately we've been getting those Snickers bars that have two small bars within one pack. I filled up the tank while Josh went inside the store.

He came back out, empty-handed. Total failure in procuring snacks.

"What kind of drink do you want?" He seemed distracted.

"Whatever is fine." Usually, we share a Dr Pepper, which is his favorite and my second favorite. But most any drink is fine. I don't like root beer, and he can't abide Mountain Dew, but whoever is filling (and paying) can make the call. I wasn't sure why he bothered going in and coming all the way back out to ask. I was finished with my gas-pumping duties, so I said I'd just go inside with him.

"Okay. I'm going to talk to this guy over here." By "this guy," he meant the homeless person standing at the side of the parking lot next to a suitcase of shiny things for sale. I began to suspect that he was not thinking about snacks at all. What happens inside his head is frequently a mystery to me.

When I came back outside, a giant Dr Pepper and share pack of Snickers in my hands, he was still talking to the guy. Homeless people make me nervous, but it was a magnificent day, and somehow that made me less nervous. No one would rob me (or whatever it is I'm nervous about) on such a nice day. Plus, Josh was talking to the guy. Josh exhibits a kind of openness to other people that I wish I had. I could tell that this was one of those occasions that I should be More Like Josh, so I followed his lead on this one.

A mixed-breed but cared-for puppy was tethered to the suitcase full of wares. A red scooter was parked behind him. From the suitcase hung two things: a business license issued by the city of Hickory, and a cardboard sign asking to help the homeless help themselves. I was no longer nervous. Homeless men with puppies and scooters who pull themselves by their bootstraps are not threatening, especially on such a nice day.

"Hey," Josh smiled when I appeared beside him. "Go ahead and pick one out. I've already paid."

When we drove up, we took the shiny things to be watches. In fact, they were SPOON RINGS.

Let me tell you about spoon rings. They are rings that you wear on your finger, just like any other regular ring. However, they are made from spoon handles, and they feature all the designs that you might find in your silverware drawer. I came across spoon rings in New York City. My friend Sarah took me to a shop that she said I would really like. The whole place was filled with things that were made from other things - motherboard coasters, bike chain picture frames, LP bowls. I wanted to buy pretty much the whole store, because I love things made from other things. I love reusing something for a completely different purpose, I love looking at something common in a totally new light. After carefully examining (and wanting) every single thing in the store, I ended up buying a spoon ring. I paid $20 for it, which is pretty spendy for me, but it was my little souvenir, plus it was a freaking SPOON RING.

I'm not sure that Josh knew that I was already the proud owner of a spoon-turned-ring, though he could hardly have missed my excitement when I saw what was for sale and shrieked "SPOON RINGS!" I'm guessing that the salesman does not have a lot of customers who are familiar with silverware jewelry, but maybe I'm underestimating the good people of Hickory.

So I picked through the rings. I am picky about jewelry. A lot of the rings were too bulky, though I'm sure that made them high-quality spoons. A few had really nice monograms, but not my initial. One had a Holiday Inn engraving, and that one would have been mine forever had it not been so thick. I finally settled on one with simple lines. The shop in New York advertised its wares as being handmade by artisans, but I actually got to meet the maker here.

When Josh had walked up, the guy was selling them 2 for $10; he said he was flat broke. Josh went ahead and gave him $10, hoping that I would go along with it. As we were looking, a trio of college girls came up and started enthusiastically poking through the rings, perhaps encouraged by our presence (and the puppy, the scooter, the nice day). They bought four between them.

We left feeling pretty much awesome. It was truly a gorgeous day, Josh was elated at having done a good thing, and I had a new spoon ring (and a boyfriend who loves his fellow man without judgment). He was also happy that I was happy. I guess somewhere along the way, he got the impression that most girlfriends do not appreciate jewelry made from used silverware by men who live on the street. I'm under the impression that most boyfriends don't go shopping on Black Friday in the parking lot of the RaceTrack. I guess it's good we found each other.

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