Monday, March 28, 2011

Thumb Rings in Shqip = “Single and Ready to Mingle” T-shirts

Dear Thumb Ring,
It’s not you… it’s me.  Things change.  People change.  You’ve got this whole new identity…and I’m just not ready to join you.  This is all moving too fast for me.  I can’t ask you to be something you’re not… but we’re not on the same page anymore.  We’ve had some good times, you and me.  Maybe it wouldn’t hurt so much if I hadn’t just found you again, tucked away in that crusty old pocket of Melia’s gym bag with old gum wrappers and a bobbie pin. OMG!  Packing for this new adventure and there you were, wrapped around me and it was like you’d never left!  My heart skipped a beat, we just fit and you brought me such comfort.  I thought you’d be with me through thick and thin, in sickness and in health, squat toilets and sleeping bags.  But now…it’s like I don’t even know you anymore.  Maybe there’s hope for us in the future, but don’t let this create false hope, at least for the time being, it’s time to say Mirupafshim*.  I won’t soon forget you. 
Melia’s Left Thumb

“Hold up!  Wait a minute! Stop the presses!   What did you say?” 
This was my frantic reaction when my host sister Jirina told me that a thumb ring indicated I was “single and looking.” (Well as frantic as one can be when requiring the use of an English-Shqip dictionary and some serious pantomime action.)  Actually, I think the word she pointed to in the dictionary was “in active search of.”  And considering this culture is ALLLL ABOUT weddings and marriage and babies, it was all I could do not to find the nearest blow torch and burn into oblivion this beast of burden!  Thumbs Down!

Let me just put this into perspective.  I’ve not met one Albanian, woman, man or child, who has not asked me if I am married.  Secondarily, in a 15 minute walk from my house there are at least two gimungous (I’m tired of ginormous…so that’s a hybrid of gigantic and humungous…it’ll catch on.  Use it.) bridal gown shops.  The population of my village is 1600.  Granted the two shops serve another neighboring town…but you get the idea, right?  Being married is a big deal….NOT TO THIS CAT, IT ISN’T! 

Now, I’ve yet to confirm this rural legend of thumb rings as true public broadcasts of desperation to wed and procreate.  Jirina is 17, so there’s a chance that this is high-school folklore and nothing else.  But for now…I’m not taking any chances!  The ring is off… the language barrier is sending enough mixed messages, I don’t need a piece of jewelry to make things worse!  And of course, I’ve begun to wonder how many mamas in the village have already seen my ring and started polling neighboring towns for eligible bachelors.  Of course, single ,30-something Albanians…  something about a needle in a haystack comes to mind.   Matchmaker, matchmaker you know that I’m….still very young….please, take your time.  (Tip of the Hat to Fiddler on the Roof!) and by “take your time,” I mean… fugettaboutit.

So, I am whole-heartedly asking that my fellow thumb-ring soul sisters from our sweet Public Market adventure forgive my temporary thumb bling hiatus?  Somie, Little H, Rob to the Bob, Me-Shell-Ay and Missy-moo… rest assured, I don’t need a ring to be reminded of you! 

Peace and Love
*If you were unable to figure out the translation of this word from the context of the letter, please consider yourself a first-rate dumbass.  However, since some first-rate dumbasses have squirmed their way into my foolish heart….Mirupafshim means goodbye.


  1. I forgive...with love....I love this shqip, in a big way, all day.

  2. Okay there Frodo Baggins. Sounds like you need to take a trip to Mordor and drop the ring into a volcano so the Eye of Sauron (AKA, the Albanian eye of marriage) will gaze upon you no more...sorry, I blacked out and nerded out for a second. I say you continue to wear it...go on dates with all the single men in both villages just to get a sense of Albanian dating to compare it to American dating...again, you may end up having an "Eat, Pray, Love" experience...I don't know why I have referenced that book/movie again as I have never seen it/read it. Either way, live it up, Albanian-style. Can't wait to visit, and stay classy.