Fellowship of the Ring

I was 19 years old when I met the guy with whom I'd live in sin for a bunch of years and then eventually marry. We were one of those couples that "takes it slow" because we met so young, and then decides they love each other so much there's no need to get married. But nine days before my first week off since the Telegraph started, Bryan got down on a knee, proposed and told me we were eloping to Maui instead of driving to Mexico for our vacation.

Our elopement was wildly romantic and perfect. Everything went right, and we even had wonderful surprises, like a stranger buying our dinner on our wedding night. We asked for the check and were told he'd even left the waitress "a very generous gratuity," and that he was touched to see us starting our lives together and wished us luck.

I didn't think I would care about being married or feel differently, but it was such a special time that I sort of floated through the following three weeks.

Until the day Bryan realized his wedding ring was gone.

For some reason, it made me really depressed that the symbol of this crazy thing we had done was missing. Bryan assumed his ring fell off while he was sleeping, because he would have felt it fall off and looked for it. But after hoisting the mattress high and scouring the sheets, it was nowhere to be found.

"Don't get emotional and think it means something," a friend warned on the phone.

Easier said than done, as it turns out. Bryan stayed at home to dig through garbage looking for the ring, while I decided to deal with the situation by getting tipsy at my book club meeting. Someone asked me if it felt different to be married, and I blurted out, "Bryan lost his wedding ring today. He's looking for it right now!"

Amongst the polite gasping, one of the women shouted, "My husband lost his wedding ring on the first day of our honeymoon when we were snorkeling in Mexico! We snorkeled and snorkeled looking for that thing, and we never found it. I told him he has to wear a stainless steel ring now until it turns his finger green!"

I felt better that Bryan wasn't the only man in history to lose his wedding ring, but secretly suspected I'd get home and he would have found the ring. No such luck. So I poured myself a whisky and called my godmother, who laughed and said, "I lost my engagement ring that Les had designed for me!" Their marriage had obviously survived despite the loss of the ring, and she managed to cheer me up for the time being.

Before work the next day, Bryan ripped through our car and found a different ring of his that had been lost for several months. It's a silver ring with engraved lizards that we bought in Australia for a few bucks. He stuck it on his ring finger, and I was surprised to feel a little better. "I can be the Lizard Queen," I tried to joke.

It was a Thursday, delivery day at the Telegraph , so as I drove around town dropping off papers, I inflicted my tale of woe on everyone I met. It's surprising how many people could commiserate with stories of their own (though there was one woman who assumed we'd be getting a divorce).

One man jumped straight into a story of how he lost his wedding ring as a volunteer firefighter on the back of a fire truck. "The trouble started when I realized I couldn't blow my nose with rubber gloves on," he said. He snapped off the gloves and saw the ring fly off his hand. He yelled to the driver to stop, but they were speeding down I-70 at 75 miles an hour. He tried to find visual landmarks, but by the time the truck turned around and went back, it was hopeless. Even with nine men searching, all they found were washers and soda can pop tops.

"I went to the rez and bought a $30 ring, which I still have now as I'm getting a divorce!" he added.

Another guy lost his ring as he used his hand to wipe snow from his windshield and felt it fly into the snow. He searched in the dark, snowy street for awhile, took his less-than-thrilled wife home and came back to continue looking. A snowplow came down the street and set off a spark, which he assumed was from contact with his ring. But he still couldn't find it. He spent several days looking, and finally did find it - smashed into a flat piece of metal. "It's a little banged up, but I still have it!" he said proudly as he held up his left hand.

A girlfriend said her ex lost his wedding ring three times - and each time found it again. He'd lost it shoveling snow from the roof, kayaking in a pond (that his family drained to retrieve it), and down a drain.

"I started buying back-ups, but never needed them," she said.

Later that day, I made it back to the office and met Bryan for lunch. "I decided to wear the lizard ring on my right hand - I don't want it to be my wedding ring," he said. Then he held up his left hand and said, "Especially when I found my ring!"

Apparently, it had been wrenched off his hand when he slipped on the icy stairs behind our office. He'd cut up his hand, and we'd been too distracted by the blood to notice the missing ring. To get it back, he had to squeeze under the stairs and claw through some nasty stuff to get it, but it's back on his finger, and my temporary insanity has passed.

And despite my silly moodiness of the preceding 24 hours, he says I can still be the Lizard Queen.

-Jen Reeder



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