x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Hi, nice to meet you? now show me your ring finger

As more and more married men don't wear a ring it is getting harder for us singles to know who is "available".

Mr A has it all: the smile, the humour, the looks, and that "great job" that translates into "good provider and potential husband material" in most women's minds. Best of all, no wedding ring. So he's single and could be "the one". Or so you think - until his wife calls him on his mobile in the middle of your meeting. And oh yeah, he has three kids. Trust me, I don't care how often people deny it and say it is "beneath them", but single people, whether male or female, do "scan the hand" for that ring that makes all the difference when meeting someone that you think you might like.

It is funny to see how some people strain and pull all sorts of stunts, such as asking for the time (when they have their own watch) to steal a peek at the ring finger when the other person isn't looking. The trouble is, as more and more married men don't wear a ring, especially Arab men, it is getting harder for us singles to know what to do and even how to find out if the man we just met is, for want of a better word, available: as if it wasn't already hard enough to meet someone.

What makes it worse is that often, annoyingly, the guy is giving out what my friends like to call "single vibes" - by showing great interest in your life, your marital status, wants to get to know you "better" and all sorts of things that I would hope married people don't care to ask about with such persistence. Sure, there is small talk, but to call repeatedly and send text messages all day and ask if you are free for breakfast, or lunch or dinner or just coffee is not just being friendly. It can be misinterpreted, but I guess some people enjoy confusing people and sending mixed messages. And unfortunately the community can do a lot of damage to a marriage by spreading rumours when a husband or wife is seen having an intimate but perfectly innocent lunch or coffee with an attractive unattached person of the opposite sex.

So I asked my married male friends why they don't wear a wedding ring. "It is not part of our tradition," said one of my Emirati friends. "It is a western concept to put a ring on the finger." Fair enough, but why the white wedding dress then? Isn't that a western concept? In some of the Bedouin tribes, the bride gets married in a colourful, heavily embroidered traditional dress. Funnily enough, although my Emirati friend doesn't wear a ring, his wife's hand is packed with them, and her wedding band alone cost tens of thousands of dirhams. I asked her what she thought of her husband not wearing a ring, and her answer was simple: "I hate it. He says none of his friends wear a ring and their wives are content with that, and so he said I should not complain and how it is all a matter of trust." If it were me, and he didn't wear a ring, then I wouldn't. We are partners in everything, right?

Actually, in some instances, a wedding ring can help women get out of sticky situations, protecting them from unwanted attention from some men. But whatever the case, I find it fascinating how that little band of metal can affect how you interact with a person. I know it does for me, as one has to truly respect the sanctity of marriage, even if one of the partners is not acting as married as he or she should. But then again, as one of my married friends says: "What is to act married and what is to act single?"

So now you can't even tell if the person with whom you "clicked" is even single or not without embarrassing yourself by asking directly.

I wish people would just let Michael Jackson rest in peace. All these "friends" who are now cashing in on his death and revealing "secrets" about him and obsessive speculation about how he died, and whether he used drugs, and whether he was actually bald and wore wigs, and goodness knows what else. I can't help but feel sorry for him, for it seems he never had any real friends, and I am frankly not that impressed with his family either. Regardless of who he really was in private, it is none of our business. We all have different faces and are different people in public and in private. I know I am. So can we please just leave him alone? @Email:rghazal@thenational.ae