This is one of those memories that seems like a lifetime ago and at the same time like it was just yesterday. In November of 2007, the Writers Guild of America went on strike in an effort to readjust how Hollywood writers were compensated as our country’s media landscape began to shift away from broadcast television and towards Netflix and other streaming media. During this period, Conan O’Brien was at the height of his Late Night powers. Even so, in support of his writing staff he took his show off the air, and it remained off the air for weeks. The strike lasted until February of 2008, and towards the end of it Conan brought the show back in an effort to save the jobs of the other producers and people who put the show together.
In his very first show back, Conan’s first “bit” was a segment in which he would spin his wedding ring on the top of his desk and, with a drumroll in the background, see how long he could make it go before it fell. Here’s a clip of that first segment: Writers’ Strike First Episode Opening. He’d go on to do this many more times over the next few weeks, and each time it got more entertaining and more exciting. I think his record was 51 seconds. It was unscripted television at its finest.
During this same period I was in the middle of my engagement to my soon to be wife; we’d get married just a few months after the strike ended. I think that this era of the Conan show has resonated with me all these years later because of my ongoing love affair with my own wedding ring. And because of the fact that, much to my wife’s dismay, one of my favorite things to do is spin that ring on the tops of tables. I usually spin it when I am bored, at restaurants, at home, on my desk at work. Sometimes I time it, sometimes I don’t. It ends up underneath said table roughly 50% of the time.
Having said all of this, it is still, by far, my most cherished worldly possession. It is perfectly simple in its design, round in its shape and rounded on its edges, yet it represents maybe the most complex emotion that we can feel as human beings. I love the way it feels in my hands and I find myself staring at it a lot. When I am not wearing my ring, if I forget it, I will reach down with my thumb out of habit to find it not there, and I feel naked without it.
To this day I look at my wedding ring and think about how I’ve been blessed by God. All the things one says about their ring during the wedding ceremony is true: it’s an eternal circle that represents the eternal love I have for my wife. But it is more than that. My love for my wife actually did have a beginning. It began when I was 30. At a French restaurant in Dupont Circle. And it has grown from there.
I like to think that my ring is not just a representation of my love for my wife, but more so a representation of the love of God in my relationship with my wife. That love from God actually is eternal, it knows no beginning or end, it doesn’t even know time. Time is for watches, but that’s another post.
Even as I look at my ring right now, nicked and scarred and slightly tarnished after 14 years on a finger that is beginning to show its age, that ring is still a beautiful sight to behold.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I want to see if I can break 51 seconds.