Friday, March 16, 2012

Asymmetry on Madison

Tiger, tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry? - William Blake 1757-1827, "The Tiger"

The lover who just walked out your door
Has taken all his blankets from the floor
The carpet, too, is moving under you
And it’s all over now, Baby Blue - Bob Dylan, 1965

My Jensen Rings Minus #1
When people comment on my Georg Jensen rings (I normally wear round five at a time), I explain that there is one from each of my lovers. A lie really. In fact only three of my lovers have given me a Jensen ring and two of them have given me several. But it's the thought that counts, as they say ...

My first Jensen was given to me, appropriately, by my first lover. I've written about him in past posts, most notably in Breaking Up Is Hard To Do. Although we'd split in circa 100 years ago, we'd kept in touch, remembering each other's birthdays, for decades. Then I wrote something about black and white movies and men in the sixties and he "spat the dummy". (For my American readers, a 'dummy' in OZ is a pacifier and spitting the dummy is akin to having a temper tantrum.)

And that was that. It's all over now baby blue!

Back to the ring. I loved it. He got it for me when I turned 21. I kept it on, wearing it for years. Occasionally it broke in half and I had it repaired. The first time it broke I was on the top of one of the Swiss Alps. It was so cold that the ring literally snapped in two. It's a design fault. I have a vivid memory of one half of the ring going down one side of the mountain, and the other going down the other. Of course this cannot be true but that's what I remember.

I used to have a thing about that ring. I had an obsessive compulsive belief that bad luck would come if I wasn't wearing it. You can see me here with my baby daughter (insert) wearing it. Then, when we officially broke up, me and lover #1, after I wrote something about not understanding Fellini movies and men in the sixties, the ring broke in two again, and I thought, why bother even fixing his bloody ring! But later when I was on Madison Avenue having my latest lover buy me another Jensen at the New York Georg Jensen store, I had ring #1 put in for repair.

It must have sat there for over six months. I heard nothing from them, but wasn't expecting it to be returned quickly as all Jensen repairs are sent to Denmark.

But I found the receipt last Wednesday and decided to pick it up. I was having a bad day. The passport section of U.S. Department of State had called to tell me my name was too long to fit in their database. "Really?" I queried. There must be heaps of people like me and what about Poles and Indians?

The woman at the other end of the phone agreed. I've been calling people all day" and added that she'd shorten my name and put an endorsement on the back page of the book explaining what my legal name really is. "But won't this cause problems at Immigration?" I asked. She assured me that problems were surprisingly infrequent, leaving me, a worrier at the best of times, feeling uneasy.

Juliff, Texas - at least my name fits on the sign!
So it was probably a silly day for me to pick up the ill-fated Jensen ring, but I did. I don't much like Madison Avenue at the best of times. The store people who are now called "associates" seem to believe they are superior sorts of human beings and that they are doing the public a BIG FAVOR by deigning to attend to us.

Still, I waited at the counter and gave my legal name (not my passport one) and after much dilly-dallying a gentleman associate presented me with my ring with a flourish.

I put it on. "It's crooked!" I told him, taking it off. "Is not!" he said. "Is too! I said. Shades if Simon and Garfunkel. It was like being Back in the Schoolyard with Julio.

A female associate came over to give her opinion. Of course she sided with Julio. "It is asymmetrical by design," she claimed. I later discovered that she couldn't even SPELL symmetrical. Perhaps she doesn't know what symmetrical means. That'd explain it.

Julio was frantically looking up catalogs and pointing out faded images of my ring to prove his point. He even photocopied a page and waved it in the air triumphantly.

Julio's Photocopy
I persisted. "I've had that ring for a hundred years," I told them. "It breaks a lot because of the bad design but I like it and want it fixed properly."

"It is properly," repeated Julio. I was getting to really dislike the man. I looked at his photocopy. "That photo was taken at an angle," I said. "You need to see a photo taken front on to see the symmetry".

Meanwhile the female associate was filling out a receipt. She looked at the old one. "You took a long time coming back," she complained. "I've been sick," I said hoping to shut her up and get out of the store. "What was wrong with you?" she asked.

"What sort of shop is this? I didn't come here to be argued with and be asked for my medical history." "I was only asking as I care about you," she lied.

I was about to go when Julio said to her, "Write down, 'customer prefers symmetrical.'" "NO! Write down, 'fix as originally designed,'" I countered.

"Same thing!" he shot back.

I gathered my things and as I turned to leave I made one parting shot. "You don't like to be wrong, do you?" I said, addressing Julio.

He looked stunned and asked me to repeat it.

"You don't like to be wrong, do you?" I said again.

"Yes I do," he said back at me.

"Good!" I replied, "You should be happy then."


Anonymous said...

I have only two GJ rings. I bought them myself... the first with one of my first paychecks in NYC.
I was so proud to shop for the ring and the bracelet that seemed to go with it, with my own money in Georg Jensen, then on Fifth Avenue.

Unknown said...

What a coincidence, only last week I pulled out an old box and found my long forgotten Jensen collection, so I have spent the last few days polishing them all up and explaining to my boys the importance of the collection to me. I have 3 rings, a wonderful bracelet watch and 2 pairs of earrings. Some of the items I bought myself with some of my first wages and some were gifts but each item has a little story attached from the early '70's.

Anonymous said...

They are beautiful pieces; my wife has one and I have one.

Anonymous said...

I have given my wife many GJ pieces over the years, mostly rings and earings from the Sydney GJ shop. In return, on our 40th anniversary last month she me gave a gold GJ watch from the Doha GJ shop. As is all GJ gear, it is elegant and simple and gets many comments.

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