I wore my high school class ring to work the other day – maybe for the first time in a decade. In food manufacturing, jewelry is a no-no, so I usually only wear a watch and my wedding ring, then take them off at my desk if I am going into food processing areas. The class ring would be another item to have to fool with.
But I had seen it in my jewelry box, and thought, “Wow, that’s a good-looking ring; I ought to wear it once in a while.” So, I did. Not gold, but Herff Jones’ Ultrium with a white gold look. Not a diamond, my birthstone, but a decent imitation set in the center of an onyx oval. The Clover Hill High Cavalier sternly stands guard on one side; the crest, “Hodie Sequimir, Cras Ducemus,” inspires on the other. “Today we follow, tomorrow we lead.”
My high school, for some reason I have long forgotten, did not have a ring dance to present these to us, but a ring ceremony during the school day. We wore coats and ties and dresses, and each member of the junior class (who purchased a ring, that is…I don’t think I’ve ever stopped to consider what non-ring purchasers did that day!) marched up in alphabetical order to the podium to receive our rings and shake hands with the principal. In the darkened auditorium, this ring attracted all the light in the room and truly sparkled, even attracting the attention of the two females in the seats near me. One said, “That’s the most beautiful class ring I’ve ever seen!” That was probably the most attention I had gotten from a girl at high school!
I had a college class ring for a few years, and then my wife and I were robbed at gunpoint in New Orleans. The robber got a lot of rings that night; we were dressed up and had just come home from Commander’s Palace, one of the Brennan’s restaurants, with friends celebrating my grad school graduation. No more UVa ring. We had to replace our wedding bands, but other rings – well, priorities.
What does it mean to wear a ring with an insignia? Is it the same as wearing a political statement t-shirt, or a team jersey? Obviously, the ring is a more permanent item, but it is still something we put on. One joker I knew would tease about people who let their arm hang out of their fancy car so you could also see their fancy jewelry. Tempted to try it with the Mini…but I need to steer too often with my left hand…remember, I’m shifting gears with my right.
When I wear this classy class ring, I feel richer. Do I feel like I belong in a higher stratum of society? Does anyone else notice or care? Not a soul said anything at work on that day when I wore it. When I see some of the huge military academy rings, I think, “That guy/gal is part of something special.” Is that true? Perhaps it is all in the eye of the beholder, or maybe the “holder;” I’m not sure. Super Bowl rings – those are unique, very valuable objects that carry a lot of meaning to the world at large.
Do I need an autism ring? A wristband? Some of us may need that in case we get in a situation and first responders can be informed to apply treatment accordingly. But do I need to wear a badge, or a sign? Sorry, now my mind goes to Bill Engvall, the southern-fried comedian who’s big schtick was, “Here’s your sign.”
I did not want to disclose to anyone that I was different when I first received my diagnosis. I have only shared it with a few at work – usually because I trusted the person, or I had royally screwed up in conversation with someone. If I had a ring, or a sign, I think some people would ask a lot of questions, some would be surprised, some would say, “I knew there was something going on,” and some…would maintain their distance. I hope to discuss disclosure more often here.
Now I am much more comfortable wearing the autism label. A classless society may be a utopian dream, better left to Star Trek authors. Worrying about what class I fit in – especially now that I know I am neurodiverse – is fruitless. I’d rather spend my time with people who care about the real me, or discovering new therapies, new studies, or even new things about myself. Self-awareness is key; self-acceptance is even more critical, and something I hope to grow in. I’ll keep shifting – class ring, or no class at all.