Engagement Rings Are Hardly Romantic

After Vancouver's most famous jilted paramour got his 15 minutes of international attention recently, I was left wondering how we came to be living in a culture manufactured almost entirely by marketers.

Pasquale Angelino ("Charlie") Zampieri hit the headlines when he sued his former fiancée for the return of the $16,500 sapphire and diamond ring he gave her, after three weeks acquaintance, in anticipation of their soon-to-be wedded bliss. They'd met on one of those online dating sites, the news stories recounted with glee, and by his account it was kismet.

Alas, it was not meant to be for reasons not quite clear in the reports, although poor Zampieri says he felt Jessica Bennett, whom he characterized as some sort of a digital Jezebel, took advantage of him. Two weeks ago he filed a suit in B.C. Supreme Court to reclaim the ring. Last week, she filed a suit for defamation.

What's left of the once intrepid news reporting staffs of this town sprang into action to get man-on-the-street views. Streeters, once considered the last resort of lazy incompetents, are now the gold standard in journalism and I have to admit they do deliver a kind of insight.

The public view falls into two camps, as summed up by a middle-aged couple: "It's a gift, she's entitled to keep it!" the wife insisted. "She dumped him, she should give it back," countered her husband. (I fear they may suffer marital discord off-camera too.)

But not one person in the parade of sidewalk strollers offered the only sensible response: What the hell did this guy think an engagement ring was for?

Unsavoury custom