Man Jewelry Do's and Don'ts (Mostly Don'ts)

Erik is out of the office this week, so we're reprinting a column from 2005 about some loser in his late 40s, which is Erik's current age.

I've never been the kind of Guy to wear jewelry, at least not on a long-term basis, and only certain kinds. I've worn the occasional class ring, I tried a gold chain for a couple weeks, and I'll put on a nice cameo brooch when I want to feel pretty.

Of course, I've worn my wedding ring every day without fail for the last eleven-and-a-half years, partly because it's a symbol of my undying love for my wife, but mostly because she'd choke the life out of me if I left the house without it.

But I draw the line at Man Jewelry. Pinkie rings, huge gold necklaces, and the dreaded gold bracelet are strictly verboten.

It's not that I'm opposed to Man Jewelry, it's just that I don't think men should wear it. Ever.

That may be a little too extreme, so I'll just limit it to Guys. If it's something your wife would wear, Guys should not (the one exception being my cameo brooch).

By now, I'm sure you're asking, "What about the entertainment industry? There are all sorts of exceptions there, like Justin Timberlake and his necklace, Harrison Ford and his earring, or Brad Pitt and his multiple nipple piercings!" But you'd be wrong. None of them are Guys.

Man Jewelry does have a home in the sporting world however. There's Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis and his Super Bowl ring, Mike Tyson and his gold tooth and to-die-for face tattoo, and Peyton Manning and his multiple nipple piercings.

I'm the first to admit that on most Guys, a pierced ear looks pretty cool. I even had one myself. But I have to draw the line when ancient Ed Bradley from "60 Minutes" or rickety Harrison Ford show up sporting a diamond stud. I'm nearly 38, and I'm too old for one. No way a guy 30 years older than me should be wearing one. It clashes with their sock garters.

And I definitely draw the line at the whole earring/necklace/pinkie ring ensemble. It's a bit much for anyone who isn't a former world boxing champion with a well-earned reputation for savagely biting his opponents' ears off.

As luck would have it, I had a chance to see this combination a few weeks ago, when I encountered the perfect storm of Man Jewelry, money, and a mid-life crisis at a local restaurant.

My wife and I were out to dinner, and I had wisely called in our reservations earlier that day. As we waited to be seated, some guy whose hair, jewelry, and much younger girlfriend screamed overcompensation, cut in front of us. A guy like this would usually escape my notice. But this one made himself extra special by mumbling something to the hostess, slipping her a $20 bill, and getting seated right before we did.

(Never mind that there were plenty of tables available; he just wanted to be a big shot in front of his date.)

The guy was, if I'm being generous, in his late 40s, while his date was barely old enough to drink. Or be out so late on a school night.

"How nice," I said to my wife. "He's taking his daughter to dinner." But he didn't hear me.

I don't know if this jerk actually made a regular habit of bribing restaurant hostesses, instead of responsibly calling two hours earlier like the rest of us, or if he was trying to impress the young Paris Hilton wanna-be clinging to his arm, but he needed to do something to compensate for the desperate look of trying to reclaim something he lost two decades earlier.

Unfortunately, the open shirt, big gold necklace, and pinkie ring just weren't cutting it. Neither was the fact that his date's mommy wanted her to be home by 11:00 or she was grounded. So my wife and I did the only thing we could do in a situation like this: we cracked jokes about them all throughout dinner.

Sure, I realize that what comes around, goes around, and that I could face my own mid-life crisis in the next 10 or 12 years. But I also realize that I won't regain my youth with Man Jewelry, a sports car, or a younger woman.

I'm going to do what any sensible guy should do when he starts to feel the ravages of age descend upon him: extreme plastic surgery.

Photo credit: (Creative Commons 3.0)

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