Last week something happened which has made me look at how irrational I can be about loot, and reopened feelings I haven't really had for two years.
One of my guildies asked me if I needed Marrowgar's Frigid Eye. He'd found it in his frosty sack of treasures the previous week when we had rescued Darnavan (who somehow found himself, like Kul and Corki, in hot water again this week). I guess he didn't need it, and didn't want to vendor it or put it on the AH. He needed bag space for the expected haul and thought I might like it. Best of all, it was free.
This is a dream ring for a Holy Paladin. Nice Stam/Int, good spellpower, and HASTE, which I am currently pushing as much as I can. Oh, and a yellow socket. Nice. So I took it, and after the raid I went to my bank, took out one of several Brilliant King's Amber that I keep stashed away, and socketed and equipped the ring. It replaced the very nice Signet of Putrefaction.
Yet as I equipped the ring, I felt a moment of hesitation -- I didn't really want to replace the putrid ring from Festergut (no way am I replacing the Ashen Band of Exaltedy Goodness -- I wouldn't want to make Tirion angry). There was something about picking up this ring that I really didn't deserve, even though my healing made it possible for my guild member to win the ring in the first place.
It's made me think a bit of my first gear purchases from the Auction House. We had been thoroughly, completely humiliated in Karazhan, and it was clear that we weren't ready. After a bit of searching I had found an excellent pre-raid gear guide for Holy Paladins over on Allakhazam, which did a great job of laying out what I should get and from where. I ran all the heroics I could to get some of the great drops, boosted my Lower City Reputation so I could get not one but two copies of the Lower City Prayerbook, and even went and did the painful Nesingwary Nagrand quests for the best available libram. But I still needed a weapon and a shield, and the guild directed me to the auction house, for the Essence Focuser and the Crystal Pulse Shield.
I was happy to have these items, to be sure, and they served me well. Yet I didn't take the same satisfaction in toting them around as I did from my Breastplate of Many Graces or my Justice Bearer's Pauldrons (I loved that so-called purple judgment set, though the Mask of Penance was pretty creepy). For me, buying those items diminished them in a way. It was good that I had bought them; it sent a message that I was willing to do whatever it took to raid, yet I felt like it really said 'Ha, you can't get decent gear the right way.' In the same way, wearing Festergut's ring was like a badge of honor. Using a ring that was given to me, even though I played a role in it's acquisition, felt almost like a cheat.
The funny thing is that I'm not really a gear snob. I don't look down my nose at crafted gear or emblem gear, or the people who use it (I have plenty of emblem gear, I have no right to look down on anyone!). I had no problem shelling out big bucks for Je'tze's Bell or for the Darkmoon Card: Greatness, or the battered hilt, so it's funny that this little ring would make me feel so uncomfortable. I think it's likely because Festergut caused us so many problems (I believe it was > 40 attempts total before we bested the bumble) that his ring was like some sort of trophy, like a way to thumb my nose at him.
So I've equipped the ring, and I've used the ring and it's been another little buff to my stats. I suppose I can forget about how I got it and tell myself that it's payment for all the bone spikes, coldflames and Saber Lashes I've taken since Icecrown was released and be satisfied. But I'm already checking Atlas Loot for something to really earn.